NAACP defends lawsuit against city’s schools Hazel Dukes says civil rights organization Isn’t backing off from litigation
The head of the New York State chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) said last week it is not backing off on its lawsuit against the City’s Department of Education.
NAACP State leader Hazel N. Dukes said the DOE’s recent re-evaluation on how a charter school will share space and resources with P.S. 308 in Bedford-Stuyvesant does little to address the inequity of the city’s public schools education.
“This is not piece meal what we’re talking about. They (DOE) can run as fast as they want to. We’re talking about quality and equity in education for all the students in New York City Schools,” said Dukes.
The lawsuit, filed last month, is attempting to halt the city’s closure of 22 schools and to prevent charter schools from sharing space in buildings that house public schools. The NAACP and the United Federation of Teachers brought the suit, which City Council Members Letitia James and Charles Barron have also signed onto.
Besides P.S. 308 at 616 Quincy Street, the other local Bedford-Stuyvesant school involved in the lawsuit includes I.S. 33 at 70 Tompkins Avenue, in which a charter school serving kindergarteners and first graders will share space with a smaller public high school, middle school and special needs middle school next year.
Other local schools involved in the lawsuit include Paul Robeson High School in Crown Heights, which is being phased out and replaced with multiple smaller public high schools, and M.S. 571 at 80 Underhill Avenue in Prospect Heights, which currently houses an elementary and middle school. Under the DOE proposal, a charter school will move in next year and the middle school will be phased out Dukes said the suit was brought on to address not only the relocation of space, but the relocation of resources. It also addresses the charter school’s lottery system, in which some students are left out with alleged fewer resources, and the ability of charter schools to dismiss poorer performing students, who then are put back into regular public schools.
“The real issues are the quality and excellence of public school education,” said Dukes. “When kids are dismissed from a charter school they return to public schools that have fewer resources.”
Dukes maintains the DOE has not done due diligence in seeing what can be done to get more resources to public schools that are failing.
In some neighborhoods there is an influx of immigrants with English language barriers and where there are homeless, and they are entitled to a quality public education as well,” said Dukes.
“The NAACP is 102 years old. We’re fighting a Goliath. Education is big business and there are big contracts given out by and to the city,” said Dukes. “Yet we can’t give some of these resources in the schools to educate our children. The issue isn’t fighting charter schools, but our mission is to a good, equitable public school education.”