East Village Charter School Sues To Stay Open
"What we produce at the end of the day, which is a period of time from K through eight, is a highly literate world citizen," said Ross Global Academy Principal Cristina Alvarez.
The school seems to be struggling to meet its goals. It was the lowest-ranked elementary and middle school in the city last year. It's now on the Department of Education's list of schools to close. There are 26 names on the list, but Ross is the only charter school.
The school's founder says the city didn't follow its own rules when it came to recommending a shut-down. The school is suing to stay open.
"We will fight this. It is definitely a civil rights issue, really, that requires review," said the school's founder, Courtney Ross.
Ross started the school in 2006. She is the widow of the former chief executive of Time Warner, which founded NY1. She says the school has had one bad year but should still stay open. In 2009, the Department of Education gave the school an A on its report card. In 2008, it earned a B.
"You wouldn't shutter any school for one year of bad grades," Ross said. "That's like saying to a kid who got two As and an F, you have to leave school. You got expelled."
It's been a bumpy road from the start. The school has moved four times in four years. And Alvarez is the sixth principal in the school's short history. But they're putting down roots in their new East Village home. The space was transformed thanks to a $3.5 million renovation the school paid for in 2009.
A lawyer for the academy says he thinks politics are at play behind the Department of Education's push to shut down the school.
"Obviously there's a political side to this. How can they close down public schools without closing down some charter school and unfortunately they chose Ross Global Academy to make that point," said Attorney Edward Little.
One leading charter school supporter says Ross has had plenty of opportunities to fix its problems.
"We don't really have the luxury of allowing schools that aren't serving kids effectively to remain open. This is a school that has not been doing the job it's been tasked to do for its children," said Joe Williams of Democrats for Education Reform.
State officials have the final word on the school's future. A final decision is expected by Tuesday.