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Four Queens charter schools’ co-location requests rejected

By Madina Toure

City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña rejected four charter schools’ requests to use public school space in two Queens school districts.

Two Long Island City schools — VOICE Charter School and Growing Up Green Charter School — applied for co-locations in District 30, but both of their applications were rejected.

But the city Department of Education approved co-location requests for Success Academy Charter School in District 27 and Success Academy Charter School in District 28.

Students at VOICE Charter School — which Fariña visited and praised in September — have done well academically. During the 2013-14 academic year, 70 percent of students in grades 3 to 8 received a score of three or four on the math exam and 39 percent of students received a score of three on the English exam, according to data from the New York City Charter School Center.

Franklin Headley, principal of VOICE Charter School on 37-15 13th St., said the DOE was receptive to the school’s concerns and suggested they seek advice for how to proceed on the matter.

“They really heard us out about the subtleties of what our space needs were and we got a courtesy phone call before the letter was issued just saying that they were not able to provide us with space,” Headley said. “But they were very concerned about our situation and they encouraged me personally to seek advice on what our next steps should be.”

Over at Growing Up Green Charter School on 39-27 28th St., 49 percent of students received a score of three or four on the math exam, while 32 percent received a score of three on the English exam.

John W. Lavelle Preparatory Charter School in Staten Island and New Ventures Charter School in the Bronx, both of which applied for co-location in Queens School District 31, were also denied.

In April, state lawmakers passed a law that allows charters that are new or are adding grade levels to seek public help in getting a school facility, according to the charter center. These schools go through a legal process that begins with an official request to the DOE. Charters can either receive co-locations in a school district building or a private building free of charge. Schools can also receive funding to cover rental expenses that could cost up to $2,775 per student during the 2015-16 academic year.

The city approved 12 co-location requests in total and rejected another 12 requests.

Fariña said her decisions were based on ensuring good learning environments and equal educational opportunities for students.

“Our objective is to lift up every child, no matter the neighborhood they live in or the school they attend,” Fariña said in a statement. “These decisions reflect our focus on ensuring there is necessary space for school children to thrive while continuing to provide an equitable education for all students no matter of the zip code they live in.”

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour‌e@cng‌local.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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