The UFT Charter Elementary School
The UFT Charter School, founded by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), opened in September 2005, and closed in 2015. The building now houses only IS 292.
The school was plagued by high turnover of principals (called "leaders"), troubled finances, and poor academic performance, according to WNYC radio. It escaped closure by the state in 2013, but was shut two years later. [Photo by WNYC's Beth Fertig.]
The UFT Charter School was designed to show that the union is not to blame for the city schools' problems. While many proponents of charter schools have suggested that excessive union regulations prevent ordinary public schools from being successful, the UFT Charter School set out out to prove that it's possible to run a good school while following the union contract.
However, the school was beset by problems. Although the elementary school appeared to be "strong," the building serving middle and high school students—about a mile away--had five principals in seven years, chronic shortages of textbooks and supplies and 10 cases of corporal punishment, WNYC reported, quoting a review by the State University of New York Charter Schools Institute.
SUNY decided in 2013 to renew the charter for two years only.
The school had financial troubles, partly because of high attrition; many elementary school children choose not to continue at the middle and high school, the SUNY review said.
UFT officials acknowledged the problems, but said their best students are lured away by other schools. "Right now in this building, our level 3 and 4 students are being recruited by other charter schools, out of the fourth grade," Shelia Evans-Tranumn, who oversaw both campuses, told WNYC. "We don't go in and rob another school of their top learners. But many charter schools have an aggressive on-the-ground campaign to get the better students."
Special education: The school was in violation of the federal Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, because it had a number of students who required more restrictive classroom settings than the school offered, WNYC reported, quoting a SUNY review. (Clara Hemphill, updated with WNYC reports, August 2013; updated with closed information by Ella Colley, October 2015)