Calling for fairness and equality, charter school students, parents, teachers and supporters rallied Wednesday morning with the Western New York parents suing the state for fair charter school funding.
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Contact: Jessica Mokhiber, 518-573-0516, email@example.com
Brown v. New York parent plaintiffs continue to fight for their day in court; supporters rally with them in support of fair funding
Rochester court heard arguments about why the charter funding case should not be dismissed, as the state continues to try to have it thrown out; parents and supporters rallied before hearing
Rochester, NY – Calling for fairness and equality, charter school students, parents, teachers and supporters rallied Wednesday morning with the Western New York parents suing the state for fair charter school funding.
The parent plaintiffs and the Northeast Charter Schools Network were in court for a hearing for Brown v. New York to fight to make sure the case is not dismissed, as the state continues to try and have it thrown out. The lawsuit, which was filed in September 2014, challenges the constitutionality of the state’s funding scheme for charter school children statewide.
The parents were victorious in May of 2015 when State Supreme Court judge Donna Siwek rejected the state’s motion to dismiss the case. Today’s hearing included the arguments on both sides of the state’s appeal of that decision.
“We will not rest until there is equitable funding for charter school kids – whose worth is not a penny less than students in district schools,” said Western New York Advocacy Manager Duncan Kirkwood. “This discrimination needs to end. Every student, district and charter alike, is entitled to a great education, and no one should be penalized because their parents found a school that works for them. I’m a product of Buffalo City Schools but now I choose to send my kids to a charter; I’m fighting for them and all other parents who opt for something better for their children.”
Charter school children in Western New York are severely shortchanged compared to students in district schools. In Rochester, charter students only receive 68 cents on the dollar. In Buffalo, charter students fare worse; they only receive three-fifths of the funding that other public students receive. Statewide on average charter students only receive 75 cents on the dollar compared to children in district schools.
This lawsuit, brought by several Western New York parents and grandparents of charter school students, seeks to rectify this inequity in state law.
One of those parents is Rochester mother Maria Dalmau, whose two daughters attend local charter schools – Eugenio Maria de Hostos Charter and PUC Achieve Charter.
She said, “We have a right to demand better for our kids. Looking for an alternative and choosing a public school that’s best for our children should not come with a penalty. I exercised my right and found schools that fit my daughters’ needs. That does not mean they should be treated as less.”
Buffalo parent plaintiff Russell Bell has three children enrolled at King Center Charter School. He said, “Two years ago when we filed this lawsuit I invoked one of my personal heroes Martin Luther King, Jr. who said: ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied’. If we and the other families do not have our day in court and the ability to stand up for our children, we risk this injustice continuing and hurting tens of thousands of kids across the state for years to come. All of those other children deserve the same funding as their friends in district schools – certainly not three-fifths of that amount.”
Renaissance Academy Charter School of the Arts Chief Educational Officer Donna Marie Cozine, said, “The inequitable funding for public charter school students communicates to our children and families that they aren’t entitled the same resources as public district schools. This is not fair. This is also not a district versus charter school issue; it is a civil rights issue. Our children are worth just as much as their public district school peers, not less.”
South Buffalo Charter School founder and board chair Jim Neimeier said, “I helped establish this school because I wanted children in my hometown to have a bright future and at the time, the options were nil. Now we have options but our kids are still being denied fairness. This needs to change. We hope the courts agree.”
Background on the lawsuit here: http://www.necharters.org/case_summary
About the Northeast Charter Schools Network:
The Northeast Charter Schools Network is a regional advocacy organization for the more than 250 charter schools in New York and Connecticut. Its mission is to support and expand high quality charter schools in the region.
90 State Street, Suite 1030, Albany NY, 12207