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Charter School Leaders Skip Out on Council Hearing

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A City Council Committee held a hearing to look into how charter schools are operating here, but doesn't get much help from the people and groups that run those schools. NY1’s Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

On Tuesday, the packed hearing went on for more than five hours. But the people City Council members wanted to question most never showed up.

At the top of that list is Eva Moskowitz, head of the city's largest charter school network, Success Academies, who called the hearing "theatrics.”

Education committee chair Daniel Dromm asked a representative from the Charter School Center where she was.

"I have no idea where Eva Moskowitz is,” said the representative.

"Where's Eva?" asked Dromm.

"Probably educating children,” said the representative.

"I mean, where is Eva? She is the one who is speaking out, doing all this stuff, has a relationship with the governor, but where is Eva?" asked Dromm.

The Council can compel Department of Education officials to testify but has no such power over charter schools, which are run by private non-profits that get public money.

Over the past few months, the city's 183 charters have been at the center of a struggle between Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

In March Moskowitz closed her 22 schools for a day and bused her students, and dozens from other city charters, to Albany, where they rallied with the Governor and criticized the Mayor.

"Busing children on a school trio up to Albany for what many have characterized as a political rally raises a whole host of questions around this activity's propriety and legality,” said Dromm.

But focusing on Albany paid off. The governor put major protections for charters into the state budget, including requiring the city to give new and expanding schools free space. And the de Blasio administration backed off its criticism.

Still, Council members who hoped his appointees would share their frustration over charter policy said they were disappointed.

“You're just continue to talk about practices that we do not agree with and that we're not happy with,” said Councilman Antonio Reynoso, who represents Brooklyn and Queens.

The education officials say are working to deal with a lot of the concerns surrounding charter schools.

"Some of the things, I do have to say, are not in our authority to take control over,” said Laura Feijoo of the Department of Education.

Because not only are Charter schools privately managed, but as the Mayor quickly learned, a lot of the oversight and power comes from Albany.

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