The United Federation of Teachers, one of the largest local teacher’s unions in the country, opened a charter school in 2005 to compete with other charters and show its openness to the program.
Now, the union is shuttering its lower-grade classes—all kindergarten through eight grade—with the future of its high school still hanging in the balance, according to Capital New York.
It is highly unusual for a charter school in New York City to close, but the U.F.T. charter has consistently been one of the lowest performing schools—charter or otherwise—in the city and has received stern warnings from its authorizer, the SUNY Charter School Institute, about its viability.
Last year, SUNY issued a report on the U.F.T. Charter School in which it documented instability in leadership, low test scores particularly in middle school grades, lack of resources and disciplinary issues.
The school, which is located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in New York City, has 670 K-8 students and a teaching staff of 50. The U.F.T. has said it will work with the Department of Education to "ensure appropriate placements for all students affected" and will help the staff find new jobs.
"It's well known by now that the U.F.T. is allergic to actual accountability," said James Merriman, the C.E.O. of the New York City Charter Center. "So I’m not surprised—but still dismayed—that even in their statement acknowledging that SUNY would not have renewed kindergarten-eighth grade at their struggling charter school, the UFT would not accept even the slightest responsibility for its abysmal failure to provide children with a great education."