For Immediate Release: March 16, 2022
Contact: Jason Novak / / 203-641-6681


Reviving “Zombie” Charters Offers Lawmakers Simple Solution to Create More Great School Seats in New York City Communities

(NEW YORK) – Today, NYC families, students, school leaders, educators, and advocates rallied at City Hall Park for more public charter seats in NYC, and to call on the NY state legislature to reissue charters for schools that were previously closed, known as “zombie” charters. The rally came as negotiations over the New York state budget continuse to heat up, with just two weeks left to go before the budget is finalized.

NYC Mayor Eric Adams recently came out in favor of reviving “zombie” charters, testifying at a legislative hearing in Albany that he was in support of scaling excellence and getting “zombie charters back on line.”

Because of the statutory “charter school cap,” there are currently no charters available to be issued in NYC, despite 6 straight years in a row of enrollment growth at NYC’s public charter schools and increased demand from parents. Reviving “zombie” charters would keep the cap in place, but allow a select number of community-based schools to open in place of previously closed schools – many of which have already been approved or are in the process of approval through the state’s charter school authorizers. These schools overwhelmingly serve students of color and those facing poverty across New York City.

“Simply put, reviving ‘zombie’ charters is a no-brainer,” said James Merriman, CEO of the NYC Charter School Center. “New York City families deserve to have high-quality school options available for their children, no matter their income or what neighborhood they’re from. Reissuing previously closed charters offers a commonsense solution to bring more great school seats to the communities that need them most. With so many talented, proven and diverse school leaders ready to open their doors, reviving these charters is a win for communities, a win for students, and a win for legislators working to deliver for their constituents.”

“We have been running academic intervention programs, college and career prep and academic improvement services for a long time. 3 years ago, we were ready to open a school to meet the needs of our community in the Bronx, but we need the legislature to allow us to open our doors.” said Daniel Diaz, Executive Director of East Side House Settlement and Founder of Haven Charter High School, a new school that could open its doors if the legislature reissues closed charters. “COVID hit our community hard. Our CTE high school would provide pathways for our kids in the careers that the Bronx needs to serve our families.”

“With the wave of a pen, lawmakers in Albany can get bureaucracy out of the way of scaling up excellent schools,” said Ashish Kapadia – Executive Director, Central Queens Academy Charter School. “Central Queens Academy is working every day to prepare our students – 70% of whom speak a language other than English at home – for success in college and in the workforce. We’re ready to scale that success as soon as the legislature does the right thing and reissues previously closed charters.”