Lawsuit Claims Funding Gap Between NY Charter Schools, Public Schools

According to a recent lawsuit filed by a group of charter school supporters, a funding gap between charter schools and the public school system is in violation of the New York state constitution and hurting a large number of minority students.

The lawsuit was filed on Monday on behalf of five families from Buffalo.  The families claim that students who attend charter schools in the area receive $9,800 less than those who attend public schools within the same district.  In Rochester, the gap was around $6,600.  That drop in funding hurts a child’s ability to learn, the lawsuit states.

Charter schools outside of NYC do not receive facility funding, which causes them to cut back on important items like science labs and libraries.

“For years, charter schools have had to struggle to get by,” said Kyle Rosenkrans, interim president of the Northeast Charter Schools Network, a nonprofit group that represents charter schools in New York and Connecticut and that joined the suit. “That’s why we see the parents from Buffalo and Rochester really rising up to say we’ve had enough. The state needs to find a solution.”

Those who support the lawsuit say the issue at hand is really concerning a child’s right to a good education.

One parent of a charter school child says of the schools:

“Wonderfully engaged teachers who are excited about the work they do, excited about the students they teach, but are sometimes without the resources that they need.”

The families would like the defendants, which include Governor Andrew Cuomo, the state legislature, and the state education department to fix the situation.

The Governor’s office did not comment on the situation, as they have not been served with the lawsuit as of yet.

“This lawsuit is simply another deceptive attempt for charter schools to divert even more money away from public schools,” said Zakiyah Ansari, Advocacy Director for the Alliance for Quality Education, an advocacy group for public schools.

The Alliance also mentioned the multiple private donations charter schools receive that public schools are not privy to, demanding to see a list of their donors.

Currently there are 250 charter schools in operation in New York, many of which do not operate under union rules.  Critics claim the schools drain resources and top-performing students from the public school system.

The lawsuit states that almost 79% of charter students in the state are low-income, and 93% are minority.  The current funding system places those students at a disadvantage.

There are currently more than 100 students on the waiting list for each charter school in the Buffalo district, which has 45 of its 57 public schools listed as failing by the department of education.

A response from the state is expected in coming months.  The group is prepared to take the lawsuit to court if the need arises.