The city's largest and highest-performing charter school network, Success Academies, is under fire after a principal made a list of students he planned to push out of his school. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
It's rare to hear charter school leader Eva Moskowitz admit a mistake. But on Friday, with most of her 34 school principals standing behind her, the founder and CEO of Success Academies said one her employees had screwed up.
"A mistake was made here, and I take personal responsibly as the leader of this organization for that happening under my watch," Moskowitz said. "We are not perfect. We are a work in progress. This is incredibly humbling and difficult work."
She was responding to revelations that the principal of Success Academy Fort Greene made a list of 16 students' names and called it "Got to Go." They were students he felt were not complying with the famously strict disciplinary system at Success. The list was made last December but only disclosed Thursday by the New York Times.
Charter schools are legally required to accept their students through a random lottery, but the revelation of the Got to Go list follows years of accusations that Success pushes problem students out, sending them back to traditional public schools, which then become overwhelmed with high-needs students. Success has always denied the accusations.
Friday, Moskowitz called the Got to Go list an isolated incident.
"It is not our policy to have Got to Go lists or push out students," she said. "One principal at one of our 34 schools had such a list, and within days, he was reprimanded and force to end it."
That principal, Candido Brown, who is still in charge of the Fort Greene school, offered a tearful apology Friday.
"I was not advised by my organization to push children out of my school. I was doing what I thought I needed to do," he said.
Success's critics, including the teachers' union, have jumped on the Got to Go list as proof that Success weeds out difficult kids. On Friday, Moskowitz acknowledged that her strict schools, with their sky-high test scores, may not be the right fit for every child, but she says they try their hardest to work with everyone who comes through their doors.