A number of innaccuracies have been running rampant on this site and other news outlets about the Brooklyn Dreams Charter School (BDCS) we reported on yesterday, so we got in touch with officials who are involved in the application process to find out what’s really going on behind the curtains. Firstly, we heard that the school is not seeking Shell Bank Junior High School (I.S. 14) – or any other public school facility – as a location. Secondly, we found that the school may not be run by the National Heritage Academies, a religious group that reportedly teaches Creationism as scientific theory.
The information we reported yesterday was cited from Education Notes Online blog, the NY Daily News, and YourNabe.com (and again). It was reported that there will be a public hearing to determine whether the Brooklyn Dreams Charter School will use Shell Bank J.H.S. as their own school building. That information is incorrect, though there will be a public meeting at Shell Bank about the charter school.
We also received an inaccurate reader comment stating that the July 16 meeting was canceled. As of today, the meeting for July 16 is still scheduled, but it is not a meeting to discuss the use of Shell Bank J.H.S. facilities for the BDCS. The meeting is part of the official application procedure that all prospective charter schools need to go through when seeking to operate as a school.
Officials overseeing the application process for the school told us that the BDCS is not planning on using public school facilities at Shell Bank J.H.S. or any other in any district. In the application details and executive summary we received in a pdf file from the NYC Department of Education Chancellor’s office, the BDCS stated, “The founding group anticipates leasing renovated space for the school through NHA in CSD 21, and do not intend to seek space through the New York City Department of Education.”
We were told that applications could take two to three years to write up and even more time to be approved, so it is difficult for a school to establish an address or physical facility before the application is submitted for approval. We were reminded that all charter schools are public schools that do not charge any tuition, and as such these schools, once approved, do have a right to use public school facilities — so long as there is a justified need and permission is granted by the community’s school district.
We found that although the school has listed as their educational service provider the National Heritage Academies — a Grand Rapids, Michigan,-based group that advocates teaching Creationism as scientific theory — a representative we spoke with on the phone at the NHA was not aware of this relationship with the BDCS. Still, the BDCS’s Board of Directors has officially stated that, if approved, the school will be under the NHA’s administration. The school’s application summary also states this (see the application below).
By law, charter schools operate as public schools and are prohibited from teaching any religion. YourNabe.com quoted the lead co-applicant for the BDCS, William Girasole, as saying, “We are not a Catholic school. We do not teach Creationism. We don’t teach any type of religion.”
We hope this information has helped to clear up some of the murky details. Of course, it is still important to participate in the democratic process of opening a school. So, if you’re not away on vacation, please mosey on over to Shell Bank and let your voice be heard at the public hearing.