‘We are not going away’: Southeast Queens Success Academy families urge mayor to open a new middle school

Photo: Carlotta Mohamed/QNS

For months, families of Success Academy students in southeast Queens have been pleading for a new middle school, and are blaming the the mayor is failing to deliver on his promise.

Despite proclaiming that Success Academy families would get a middle school, city officials showed up empty-handed at a Tweed Courthouse meeting in Manhattan on Oct. 8 without a single potential site for a permanent middle school. 

On Sept. 26, 4,000 parents, scholars and teachers rallied in Roy Wilkins Park in St. Albans demanding action from Mayor Bill de Blasio. Since July, parents have made 350 phone calls to the mayor’s office, sent hundreds of emails, met with their local elected officials, and secured more than 12,000 signatures on a petition — all in an attempt to get the mayor to be accountable to their children. 

When the parents tried to deliver the petition signatures to Mayor de Blasio on Sept. 12, they were shut out of City Hall, according to a report from the New York Post. 

“We are not going away,” said Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy. “Our kids, our families deserve a great middle school.” 

Success Academy opened its first elementary schools in Queens in 2014. In need of a new middle school, Success made a request for space in January 2017; in October of that year City Hall promised it would provide a building in time for the 2019-20 school year, which has resulted in a two-year wait. 

According to city data, and an analysis by independent researchers, southeast Queens has seven half-empty school buildings with 450 to 700-plus available seats that could be used to open a middle school. 

Without a confirmed middle school location, 227 fifth-graders will be forced to leave Success Academy or travel to another borough. More than half of the public school students would go to their zoned schools — 36 of the most overcrowded district schools in southeast Queens. 

During an interview with Errol Louis on NY1’s Inside City Hall on Sept. 25, New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, pledged to provide a school, without acknowledging the two-year wait or specifying a timeline. 

“To those families, I’m going to say you’re gonna have your middle school. We have a process, and one of the things that I’m really proud of in this administration is that a cornerstone of our process is engaging the community,” Carranza said. 

At the Oct. 8 Tweed Courthouse meeting, neither Carranza nor officials offered explanations on why the city had delayed two years in starting the process, according to Success. 

“Success Academy parents don’t give up. We’ve learned that from our kids,” said Pershemia Milliard, Success Academy Far Rockaway parent. “Mr. Mayor, keep a great free public education in our community.” 

Fellow Success Academy Far Rockaway parent, Jamaal Shah, said the mayor has a responsibility to all kids. 

Shah’s message: “Don’t abandon our kids!” 

More from Around New York