NYC to block 3 charter schools from public space

NEW YORK (AP) - New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration has blocked three charter schools from using space inside public school buildings, reversing a decision from his predecessor and making good on a campaign promise to rein in the influence of private education providers.

De Blasio, a Democrat, accused former Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration of trying to "rush" the co-location decisions to give free space in city-owned buildings to the charter schools in the final days before leaving office last year.

Bloomberg was a strong proponent of the taxpayer-funded but privately run charter schools, which grew from 17 to 183 during his time in office, while de Blasio has pledged to charge rent to "well-resourced" charter schools and has called for a moratorium on allowing new charters to share buildings with traditional schools.

"We were handed a series of last-minute moves by the Bloomberg administration approving a number of co-locations," de Blasio said Thursday. "We knew that if they could get away it, they would."

A spokesman for the former mayor declined comment.

The three charters denied the space are part of the Success Academy Charter Schools system run by former City Councilmember Eva Moskowitz. They had aimed to open this fall and had already hired teachers and were in the process of admitting approximately 600 students.

"Explaining to students and families that they won't have a school next year is the most heartbreaking thing I've done at Success Academies," Moskowitz said in a statement. "No parent should have to go through this."

Though de Blasio was a frequent critic of charter schools on the mayoral campaign trail last year, several other charter school co-locations plans were approved. Of the 49 schools that had been approved for co-location reviewed by the Department of Education under new Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, only nine were rejected: the three charters and six regular district public schools.

The head of the teachers union applauded the decision.

"I'm glad the DOE has taken an important first step in vetoing some particularly troublesome pending co-locations," said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers.

De Blasio has said that he wants a moratorium on placing charter schools in public school buildings and suggested that future decisions would include meetings with neighborhood groups and parents.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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