The following story from Schools Matter should be a warning for concerned parents involved in their child's education at charter schools, and those advocating adding their expansion.
Today, current and former charter school parents protested the appearance of Secretary Duncan’s visit to Kings Collegiate Charter School in Brooklyn, one of the chain of charter schools run by Uncommon Schools. They called attention to the fact that Duncan’s attempt to pressure the Legislature to raise the cap on charters ignores the many flaws in the current system, including the lack of sufficient financial oversight, excessive discipline at charter schools and the suppression of parent and student rights.
According to Mona Davids, President of the NY Charter Parents Association, "Uncommon Schools does not allow Parent Associations of any kind. We have been helping a parent at the Kings Collegiate School for several months. We need far more transparency and a voice for parents at all charter schools, to stop their abusive practices.
Samantha Jeffrey, a parent at Kings Collegiate Charter School, says, “I support the charter school system, however I believe they have not reached their potential so that my child can reach his potential as well. I would like to work with them on real solutions that focus on the child’s academic excellence, as opposed to the distractions of the current disciplinary code and policy. I have also been ignored when I asked for essential information that I deserve as a parent. Parents at our school as well as other charter schools need a voice.”
Khem Irby, parent leader in District 13 and a former parent at Leadership Prep Charter School, one of the Uncommon Schools chain, said: The practices at Leadership Prep continue to degrade the self-esteem of children. Many of their students have been suspended for trivial reasons like “yawning too loud”, and they have had a mass exodus of students who have returned to neighborhood schools. They also have used ACS as a tool to suppress parent complaints.”
Lydia Temples, a former parent at Leadership Prep, said: “When I had concerns about the unfairness of the disciplinary procedures at the school, I used all the legal avenues of redress at my disposal. I filed grievances with the school, the board of trustees, the SUNY Charter School Institute, the Board of Regents, and finally, the State Education Commissioner, and none of them responded. Instead, the school called ACS to try to shut down my complaints and they took my daughter away from me for two days. I finally had to take my child out of the school.”
Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters, says: “We object to Duncan’s political pressure to force our state to raise the cap on charters, without any protections in place to prevent financial corruption and abuse of power.
The two groups have also formulated a framework of common principles for charter and district schools, demanding more accountability for the spending of taxpayer, including audits from the State Comptroller and barring profit-making charter operators from making money off our children.