Did Eva Lie? Charter Queen Claims "Got to Go" List an "Anomaly"

Eva Moskowitz  of Success Academy Charter Schools during a charter school rally outside the state Capitol on Wednesday, March
Eva Moskowitz of Success Academy Charter Schools during a charter school rally outside the state Capitol on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

We don't suspend in order to boost our academics. Like, that's just crazy talk." - Eva Moskowitz, interviewed on the John Merrow Report, PBS NewsHour

"Educators at Success Academies love children and try to meet the needs of every student." - Eva Moskowitz, reply to the Merrow report

Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of the Success Academy Charter Schools, has been in the news a lot lately. Some good. Some bad. This summer her network of charter schools received a multi-million dollar grant from hedge fund manager and charter school supporter John Paulson. Students in her charter schools were amongst the top scorers on 2015 Common Core aligned assessments. Currently, Success Academy operates 34 charter schools in New York City that enroll approximately 11,000 students.

On the negative side, Success Academy has warned by City Comptroller Scott Stringer that if it continued to refuse to sign mandated contracts with New York City spelling out responsibilities for operating publicly funded pre-kindergarten programs, it would not get paid. According to Stringer, "If an organization wants to be paid New York City taxpayer dollars, they need to follow New York City rules."

Success Academy is also criticized because its pro-charter school allies are running television ads attacking public schools; adds that critics view as racist, and because of rallies by its employees and students around the city and state denouncing politicians who do not support the Success Academy charter school agenda.

But while Success Academy students do better than average on high-stakes assessments, there is a rising crescendo of criticism because of Moskowitz's use of wealthy political connections to promote her empire, and accusations that Success Academy suspends poorly performing students to drive them out of the schools and boost its average test scores.

Moskowitz says the last charge is not true. A New York Times investigation says it is. If these charges are true, then Moskowitz is lying.

According to the Times, documents uncovered in its investigation and interviews with current and former Success employees "suggest" that administrators in Success Academy charter schools are singling out children they want to push out. Apparently, at Success Academy Fort Greene there was a list of children designated as "Got to Go" that included children who were repeatedly punished and suspended. Parents report that they were explicitly told Success Academy "was not right for their children and that they should go elsewhere." Current and former Success Academy employees reported to Times investigators that "they had observed similar practices at other Success schools". At Success Academy Harlem 2 Upper teachers were instructed "not to automatically send annual re-enrollment forms home to certain students, because the school did not want those students to come back."

Success Academy's spokesperson Ann Powell did not directly deny the accusations but told the Times that the "Got to Go" list was a "mistake." She claimed "what might look like an effort to nudge students out the door was actually an attempt to help parents find the right environment for their children." The list surfaced it contained the names of sixteen children. Ms. Moskowitz said the school, whose oldest children were in second grade, had severe disciplinary problems that the principal was trying to address. He was "admonished" by the charter network for this action and now employs different methods to maintain order in the school.

New York magazine calls Eva Moskowitz a micromanager. The Success Academy Code of Disciple is six-pages long. I suspect nothing happens in her schools that she is unaware of. Was the "Got to Go" list an anomaly? Maybe. Is pushing difficult children out of network schools the policy? That is how it looks to me. You know Eva, it really looks like you lied.

You can send an email to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo calling on his office to investigate the charges against Eva Moskowitz and Success Academy Charter Schools.