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Officials Decry 'Rape' Sign at Charter School Protest

Posters linking proposal for Success Academy to share space with McKinney JHS to 'rape' is criticized by both sides of debate.

Officials on both sides expressed dismay over signs held at a protest in Fort Greene last week that likened forcing a public school to share space with a charter school to rape.

At an Oct. 11 rally against the proposed co-location of Success Academy at Susan McKinney JHS 265, a student held up a poster that said, “Forcing something where it’s not wanted sounds pretty much like rape."

Similar signs held by school-age children calling the co-location process "rape" were also spotted at the protest.

The sign was denounced in an op-ed in the New York Post written by a Success Academy teacher on Friday.

The Department of Education has proposed giving the third floor of the Park Avenue school to Success Academy, a network of charter schools started by former city Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz. Currently, the floor is used for McKinney's extensive arts program.  

Success Academy officials said the sign showed the nature of the anti-co-location protests.

"Not only are opponents spreading misinformation about our school, but they are doing so by using hate language instead of offering a respectful dialogue about educational options that families in the Fort Greene neighborhood desire and deserve," said Success Academy spokeswoman Jenny Sedlis. 

A spokeswoman for New York Communities for Change, which helped organize the rally, said the nonprofit did not have anything to do with the sign. 

"Students and parents made the signs," said Olivia Leirer. "We think the sign was definitely in poor taste."

But, Leirer added, "We also understand that students and parents feel voiceless. They feel excluded from the process."

Councilwoman Letitia James, D-Fort Greene, who attended the rally, came out even more strongly againt the slogan, calling it "inappropriate and offensive." 

"Obviously the analogy between rape and co-location is ridiculous and insensitive to the violent nature of rape," she said.

But she said she hopes the rally's message of protecting McKinney's arts studio space and other third floor programs wouldn't be lost, noting that after the rally a Department of Education official did a walk-through of the school with her.

"We were successful in getting DOE to the table," she said. 

"There's been suggestions that I'm anti charter," she added. "What I am about is making sure that children have enough space to grow and flourish." 

Lynda Costagliola October 20, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Well, at least that sign got everyone's attention! Charter schools are NOT helping our community and I can't believe our local elected officials can't or won't see this. MS 265 is an awesome school with incredible programs for our students. As a fifth grade teacher who has recommended this school to my students and parents, I am appalled that Success Academy thinks they can just waltz right in and attempt to take over. Based on the definition of rape, the sign seems to say it all. Let's show everyone what the real Bed-Stuy community is comprised of. Stay out of our schools!
sandy October 21, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Mckinney is in fort green. i totally agree that Success corporation and their predatory style may not be a good fit within the Mckinney arts environment. All charters are not the same and if they want to consider putting anything there, why not put a charter or other school with and arts base. Also, why not partner Mckinney with a great successful arts school like Laguardia, PPAS or Frank Sinatra that can give them tips on successful growing the academics as well as arts.
my child is NOT a test score October 21, 2012 at 04:59 PM
There is lack of consent in most communities where Success Charter has moved in. What other term would one use to prove this point? The nature of their practice is not something one can be delicate about any longer. They are full on abusive.

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