Angry parents who claim their kids are being ruined by boot camp-style teaching are staging an uprising at Eva Moskowitz’s flagship, $68 million Success Academy charter school that opened in September.
Moskowitz’s heavily hyped Success Academy Hudson Yards Middle School, which so far enrolls about 200 kids in grades five and six, is meant to be a model for her to share her education gospel with schools from around the world through a new Education Institute that was launched at the school in June.
But already Moskowitz has encountered some difficulties.
An anonymous group of parents at the school has sent scathing letters to Moskowitz and Hudson Yards Principal Malik Russell that decry what they call draconian disciplinary tactics.
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The parents charge Russell gives detention for minor infractions such as failing to clasp their hands, failing to make eye contact and inadvertently breaking wind in class.
“It’s like a military-style boot camp,” said one of the parents, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.
“The kids have two hours of homework a night,” the parent added. “They don’t have time for playdates, they have no time for a life.”
The insurgent families’ group — which calls itself the Parents’ Opposition Committee and has about 20 members, according to parents — already held one marathon meeting with Russell at the school on Oct. 5 to detail their concerns.
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Then they followed up on the meeting with an angry letter to Moskowitz and the charter network’s board on Oct. 10.
“We are a large group of parents from Hudson Yards Middle School who are outraged by Principal Russell’s policies and treatment of our children,” the letter states.
Moskowitz wrote the parents back and promised to meet with them at the school on Thursday.
“I am sorry again that you are frustrated and concerned about the school design as well as the implementation,” her letter says. “There seems to be some misunderstandings.”
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The controversial charter boss said she would ease their worries in person.
“I look forward to seeing you there and further addressing your concerns,” she wrote. “As always, appreciate your involvement and investment.”
Other parents said they had encountered glitches at the school, such as difficulties receiving homework assignments in time, but their overall experiences were positive.
“It’s been working for my daughter,” said Omilania Buckine, 39, of Manhattan, whose daughter is in fifth grade at the school.
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“She has amazing teachers who are attentive and keep me abreast of everything going on with her.”
Russell admitted that the school had experienced some missteps but said staffers were working to negotiate solutions with parents.
“Starting a new enterprise — especially one as ambitious as this — can have some challenges,” Russell said.
“But with the support of our great community that we have, we have been able to push ahead and build a wonderful school that focuses on joy as well as academic excellence.”
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