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Mothers call on state lawmakers for help after alleging abusive practices at Success Academy

Cyril Josh Barker | 3/17/2016, 12:08 p.m.
Two mothers alleging teachers denied children bathroom privileges and were punished for walking up the stairs too slowly at Success ...
Harlem Success Academy

Two mothers alleging teachers denied children bathroom privileges and were punished for walking up the stairs too slowly at Success Academy School met with officials in Albany to make their plea to lawmakers.

Fatima Geidi and Elizabeth Eloheim, who say their children were pushed out of Success Academy charter schools, brought their issues to lawmakers, urging them to protect students’ rights not increase taxpayer funding for charter schools. The mothers claim their children were victims of abusive disciplinary actions.

Eloheim alleges that her daughter, who attended Harlem 1 Success Academy, and her family were targeted because they questioned the abusive practices and policies at the charter school.

“It was one of the worst experiences of our life, and the long-lasting effects are devastating,” she said. “The school used deprivation of bathroom privileges as a discipline practice, which is inhumane.”

Geidi said her special needs son faced multiple suspensions when he was a student at Upper West Side Success Academy for things such as walking up the stairs too slowly.

“He was often accused of being too emotional,” Geidi said. “He has special needs but never received his mandated services and supports. At nine months pregnant, I finally gave in to the pressure of withdrawing my son, which is what the school wanted all along. The role of the school is to educate children, not displace them.”

The accusations come in light of a video that surfaced last month of a female teacher at a Success Academy in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, speaking abusively to first-grade students for not getting a math problem correct. The video was shot secretly by an assistant teacher.

The teacher, Charlotte Dial, is seen in the video tearing up a sheet of paper in front of a child and yelling at her, telling her to “go to the calm down chair.” Dial then proceeds to criticize the students about their work.

Reports have also surfaced about Success Academy’s alleged “Got to Go” list of students they want to withdraw.

Education advocacy group Alliance for Quality Education has been critical of Success Academy and other charter schools. The group recently supported the Assembly’s proposals that require charter schools to meet the same laws for student discipline as public schools. They would also require charter school transparency and public reporting on suspensions and discipline practices.

“We‘ve all read about the ‘Got to Go’ list to push students out and we’ve all seen the video of abusive teaching at Success Academy. How in the world is it possible that the Governor and the Senate could ignore that and increase funding for Success Academy,” said Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education. “The Assembly proposed solutions that would require charter schools to implement the same discipline and same public reporting rules on suspensions as public schools is a good one. The Senate proposal that would give Eva Moskowitz’s schools special privileges is not.”

After multiple requests from the AmNews, Success Academy declined to comment on the accusations.