Saturday, January 23, 2016

Eva Moskowitz Denies Success Academy Discriminates Against Disabled Students

Background here, at NYT, "Filing Alleges Bias at Success Academy Network Against Students With Disabilities."

And Moskowitz, the founder of the academy, responds, "Success Academy Founder Defends Schools Against Charges of Bias":
Eva S. Moskowitz defended her Success Academy charter schools on Friday, two days after a group of parents filed a federal complaint accusing the network of discriminating against students with disabilities.

The complaint, which was filed on Wednesday with the Office of Civil Rights at the federal Education Department, claimed that Success Academy repeatedly suspended and, in some cases, pushed out students with disabilities from its schools. It asserted that Success had repeatedly violated the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act by not offering alternative instruction to students with disabilities who were suspended, and by not holding hearings to determine whether the students’ behavior stemmed from their disabilities, and whether the schools needed to provide them with additional services.

On Friday, speaking at a public policy breakfast at New York Law School, Ms. Moskowitz, the network’s founder, offered a vigorous defense of her schools. She said that while Success had room to improve how it served students with disabilities, she had a “fundamental disagreement” with her critics about student discipline.

“Safety is the No. 1 reason parents want out of the district schools,” she said. She said the network’s discipline policies, including suspension for violent behavior, were necessary to ensure a safe and orderly environment in which children could learn.

She also rejected the criticism that students who are repeatedly suspended at Success suffer because of missed instructional time. She said that, with longer days and a longer school year, Success offered the equivalent of 55 more days of instruction than regular public schools. Therefore, she said, it was “simply not the case” that students who were suspended missed a problematic amount of instruction.

Ms. Moskowitz also sought to cast doubt on the credibility of parents who claimed that Success had suspended their children without justification, saying that parents frequently refused to believe that their children had behaved violently.

Fatima Geidi, one of the parents who filed the federal complaint on Wednesday, also filed one late last year with the Office of Civil Rights, accusing Success of discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin and disability, by imposing harsher punishments on African-American and Hispanic students, students learning English and students with disabilities than it did on other students.

On Thursday, the Office of Civil Rights told her that it would conduct an investigation of her earlier charges, she said. It also said in a letter that it was already conducting a compliance review of Success, examining whether the network discriminated against students with disabilities “by disciplining them more frequently and more harshly than similarly situated, non-disabled students.”

Ms. Geidi’s son, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, attended Success Academy Upper West from 2011 to 2014, from which he was frequently suspended...

The Times had a piece back in October, "At a Success Academy Charter School, Singling Out Pupils Who Have ‘Got to Go’," which caused quite a stir.