Harlem Success Academy

Arthur Schwartz, the Lawyer Who Beat Success Academy Charter Chain in Court

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Civil rights attorney Arthur Schwartz is running for City Council in District 3, Manhattan, which includes SoHo-Hudson Square, Greenwich Village, Chelsea, the Theater District, and Hell’s Kitchen. Arthur has spent his career as a warrior for justice. He was the lead attorney in the successful lawsuit on behalf of parents against the powerful Success Academy charter chain. I donated to his campaign. I hope you will too.

Arthur Schwartz & His Legal Team Win Multimillion Lawsuit Against Success Academy’s Unethical “Got To Go” Policy Singling Out Students With Learning Disabilities

On March 10, 2021 District 3 City Council candidate Arthur Schwartz was part of a team of attorneys representing parents who sued and won a $2.3 million settlement against the Fort Greene Success Academy. In the long awaited decision for a 2017 filed Discriminatory Harassment suit, Judge Fredric Block approved $1.1 million in damages to the 5 families of plaintiffs.https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/30/nyregion/at-a-success-academy-charter-school-singling-out-pupils-who-have-got-to-go.htmlThis victory highlights an ethical standard for academic administration at the highest levels of education across America and helps to protect families and students from learning disability-related discrimination and prejudice. In this case it involved 5-year olds.

The source of the suit was the internally code-named “Got to Go” list. The lawsuit accused the Fort Greene Academy principal and its parent Success Academy of creating lists of 5 year old students with possible learning disabilities that they wanted to push out because they were ‘not right’ for the school. These children, most in kindergarten, got suspended 20 times or more per year. One parent was told that her 5 year old was going to be arrested for having a tantrum. The lawsuit took 4.5 years to litigate and settle — as the most successful scoring charter school system in America refused to turn over the paperwork and records requested by the plaintiffs’ legal team in an effort to protect Success Academy higher-ups.

Success Academy Fort Greene (SAFG) opened in the 2013-14 school year as an elementary school with grades K-1, with the intention of adding a grade each year until the school served grades K-4.

Known as the largest and most controversial charter multi-school chain in the country, Success Academy has been plagued by scandals from the beginning. After 2 years, it was determined that the Fort Greene school needed  “turning around,” and newly hired principal Candido Brown was tasked with doing that.

Thus began the infamous “Got to Go” list. The lawsuit alleged that the list reflected Success Academy policy.

In an October 30, 2015 press conference, Brown attempted to explain that his list of children to focus on for removal from SAFG was an effort to “fix” the school. On that same date Success Academy founder Eva Moskowitz said she did not plan to fire Brown. The lawsuit was filed in 2017 by 5 parents whose kids had been tortured by Success. The legal team included Arthur Schwartz and the foundation he heads, Advocates for Justice, NY Lawyers for the Public interest, and Skadden and Arps. The parents were initially referred to Arthur by the Alliance for Quality Education.

This is the first in a series of important legal victories I will be highlighting weekly moving forward that City Council candidate and veteran civil rights attorney Arthur Schwartz has achieved in his more than four decades of leadership. This is what leadership looks like. – Bruce Poli

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