Success Academy plans to fight audit in court
Cyril Josh Barker | 7/29/2013, 10:55 a.m. | Updated on 7/29/2013, 10:55 a.m.
Charter school maven Eve Moskowitz, best known as the head of Success Academy Charter Schools, is trying to block state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli's officer from performing an audit on her charter school kingdom, stating that it's unconstitutional.
Reports indicate that Success Academy, which runs 14 charter schools in the city, is suing the state comptroller’s office. They claim a 2009 ruling by the state Supreme Court to authorize the comptroller to audit charter schools violates state law.
Changes to the law came in 2010; however, Success Academy says that it still violates the state's constitution. While charter schools are funded by taxpayers, they operate independently outside of public school systems and as nonprofits.
“The comptroller's fundamental duty is to superintend the fiscal concerns of the state," Success Academy said in its complaint. "Any audit of charter schools by the comptroller and or the OSC [Office of the State Comptroller] is not an administrative duty incidental to the comptroller's supervision of the fiscal affairs of the state and, therefore, is unconstitutional."
Virtually all students who attend Success Academy schools are low-income students and students of color. Moskowitz and Success Academy have been accused of profiting from the schools along with the higly controversial “colocating” of charter schools in public schools.
Moskowitz previously came under high scrutiny for asking Black students and parents of Success Academies to protest against the NAACP for their opposition of colocation.
“Our office started a routine financial audit of Success Academy Charter School. The entity filed suit to prevent our audit. The audit has been put on hold,” said Jennifer Freeman, spokesperson for the state comptroller's office. “The comptroller's office is confident the courts will uphold the comptroller's authority to audit taxpayer dollars.”
Freeman added that the state comptroller's office is responsible for auditing every public and charter school in the state and has done other audits on other charter schools.
In an interview with the AmNews, Kerri Lyons, spokesperson for Success Academy, maintained that the comptoller's office is overstepping its boundaries and plans to fight back in court. The comptroller's office has agreed to place a hold on the audit, and the case could to take a year to be resolved.
Lyons said, “Success has been blockaded, sued and harassed all because teachers and principals are trying to educate kids exceptionally well, and we are tiered of these endless political efforts.”