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Mother of Autistic Child on “Got to Go List” Publicly Confronts Eva Moskowitz

January 27, 2016

On Friday January 22, 2016, the Center for New York City Law at New York Law School hosted the 131st City Law Breakfast. The event speaker was the highly controversial Success Academies (SA) CEO, Eva Moskowitz.

The video for the event can be viewed here.

During the Q&A portion of the event, several individuals confronted Moskowitz about the manner in which she runs her schools.

One such individual was former SA Fort Greene parent, Shanice Givens.

shanice givens  Shanice Givens

I recognized the name because I have read and written about the lawsuit, Ogundiran et al. versus Success Academy Fort Greene et al., filed in US District Court (Eastern District of New York) against five defendants, including SA Fort Greene and its principal, Candido Brown, for his having created a “got to go list” of students whom he obviously intended to force out of SA Fort Greene. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the parents of four SA Fort Greene students whose names were on Brown’s list.

Shanice Givens is one of those four parents.

Here is her story as it appears among the charges in the lawsuit:

C.S., S.G.’s son, has been diagnosed with autism. While attending kindergarten at Success FG, C.S. did not receive an IEP. Repeatedly, while attending kindergarten, S.G. received calls from officials at
Success FG telling her to pick up her child from school. On one occasion, in or around January 2015, S.C. (typo) was told that if she did not pick up C.S. within 20 minutes, the ACS would be called to take custody of the child.

On another occasion, C.S. was physically lifted out of a chair by a teacher for not following instruction.

After one year at Success FG, S.G. withdrew C.S. from the school. S.G. later learned that C.S. was on Defendant Brown’s “Go to Go” list.

And here is the transcription of Givens’ confrontation of Moskowitz during that Q&A session of the January 22, 2016, City Law Breakfast (beginning at 41:40):

Givens:  Good morning, Eva.  How are you?

Moskowitz:  Good morning.

Givens:  Hi. You didn’t shed any light on the “got to go list. I just want to know, did you publicly or maybe privately apologize to the any of parents that were affected by it?

Moskowitz:  Um, there’s been an enormous amount of coverage. I see Kate Taylor (NY Times writer following the “got to go list” story) in the audience. Um, there were two stories on it, and yes, I, I did [apologize].  The list existed for three days. Uh, as soon as it came to our attention, which was within about 24 hours of it being produced, the principal was brought into the school and severely reprimanded for his actions.  Uh, I’ve personally have done many parent meetings at Fort Greene, uhh, because of that mistake.

Givens:  Hello. Sorry. I just wanted to say, my name is Shanice Givens, and my son was number three on the list, and I never got an apology from Ms. Eva. I never got anything.

Moderator:  (Who has been trying to get Givens to stop talking since “Hello, sorry.”) May I ask you to be courteous?

Givens:  (Maintaining a relatively calm, clear voice despite moderator protestations in background.) No. I just needed to say that because she just said that she publicly said something that she never said anything to me. My son was number three. And you said that you loved children so much that you still allow Mr. Brown to teach. He has wronged 16 children.

(Moderator asks technician to turn Givens’ mic off.)

The fact that Brown has not been terminated sends a strong message that “strong reprimander” Moskowitz condones his actions enough to keep him on the job– and in the classroom at another SA school, teaching third grade– a disconcerting truth that Givens rightly points out.

But there is another neon-lit issue in Moskowitz’s own words, and that concerns her statement that the “got to go list” “existed for three days”– which is simply not possible given some of the student names on it and the dates that they left SA Fort Greene.

In fact, it is much more likely that Brown composed his “got to go list” not long after his arrival at SA Fort Greene, in November/December 2014.

The Olgundiran et al. versus Success Academy Fort Greene et al. lawsuit has four plaintiffs, all of whom had children named on Brown’s “got to go list.”

According to the lawsuit, the first plaintiff withdrew her daughter from SA Fort Greene in time to start a new school in January 2015. The second plaintiff withdrew his son from SA Fort Greene in May 2015. And the third plaintiff withdrew her son from SA Fort Greene at the end of the 2014-15 school year.

These three children were among the 16 names on Brown’s “got to go list” that Eva says “existed for three days” in a story that broke in October 2015.

Why would Brown write the names of students who had already left SA Fort Greene on an October 2015 “got to go list”?

He wouldn’t because “gone” kids no longer “got to go”… which means Eva lied in an apparent attempt to diminish the seriousness of her retaining an SA employee whose “turn around” strategy for K-2 is to intentionally target students who could arguably present problems when that serious testing kicks in at grade 3.

The real problem for Eva appears to be that Brown got caught in October 2015 doing what he has arguably been doing since November/December 2014: targeting kids for an SA Fort Greene exit.

Immediately following Givens at the January 22, 2016, City Law Breakfast was Thomas Lopez Pierre, whose statement to Moskowitz took an unexpected, critical turn (at minute 43:04):

Pierre: Ah, yes. My name is Thomas Lopez Pierre. I’m a candidate for City Council in upper Manhattan. And unlike many of the individuals in this room, my kids actually attend Success Academy. My son was trapped in a failing school two blocks from where I live on the Upper West Side, and today, he got all 4’s in math, English, and science. He was awarded his class science award, and he, um, um, um, um, and my two daughters also attend the school.

Um, with that said, I am a critic of you, Ms. Moskowitz, and here’s the reason why. Um, you have failed to provide every public school student who wants to attend Success the opportunity, and until you are able to serve all the kids that want to get into your wonderful charter school, um, Success will not be a success. Thank you.

Moskowitz’s response:

[Smiling] Thank you, I do have a lot of critics from a variety of places, and that’s, that’s part of the wonderfulness of New York.

For Moskowitz, part of the “wonderfulness of New York” is also that lawsuit filed against her schools for targeting children– and for allegedly failing to take the initiative to identify and to properly serve students eligible for special education services– students like Givens’ autistic son.

Beyond New York, Moskowitz is also facing a federal civil rights complaint related to SA’s alleged failure to follow the law regarding properly serving students with special needs.

Trying to mold a charter network student body into a compliant army of high test scorers can be rough, eh?

eva moskowitz red  Eva Moskowitz


Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

From → Charters, Litigation

  1. Jonathan permalink

    The Success Academy’s “got to go” list may, or may not, have existed for more than three days, but the Success Academy’s “got to go” culture is deep and abiding.

  2. Nurabia makins permalink

    Continue to fight for what you believe in Ms. Givens. We trust these higher authority to do right by our children and teach them when we send them out and they fail us well some. I just took my daughter out school because of same reason everyday report is its the same she can do better but it’s the same. So she been in school since September and she hasn’t progress so as a teacher someone who’s suppose to help her you don’t think anything wrong with that being that you are an suppose to be educator… So before you have my child’s future looking like promotion in doubt P.I.D I’m going to remove her. She’s been in new school for a week was and was retested and her teacher personally called me and expressed that her findings of my daughter from other school was wrong!!!!! Us a parents get so overwhelmed when we feel our children is failing and them as teachers don’t want to do their job something they suppose to believe in so they fail them overlook them or in ms givens case try to get them removed from program.. It’s so sad…. But continue fighting and standing up for what you so strongly believe in and good luck to your son!!!!!! All we want for our children is the best is that too much to ask for!!!

  3. Jack permalink

    I strongly suggest that everyone watch the whole New York City Law forum:


    Wow, this event sure did NOT go the way its pro-Eva and pro-Success-Academy organizers intended it to go. Ross Sandler, the law professor / moderator begins the event with a long, fawning introduction that made the $600,000-a-year-salaried Eva sound like Mother Teresa of Calcutta or Albert Schweitzer. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that the pointed questions and angry questioners that then followed deviated from what was originally intended by Sandler — basically an unabashed ass-kiss-a-thon for Eva and her Success Academy schools.

    Throughout the event, Sandler repeatedly tried to shut down and interrupt those questions and questioners — “Turn off her mic!” — using the rationale of “This is an academic institution,” as justification. Hmmmm…. Shouldn’t an “academic institution” be a place for vigorous debate where all sides are allowed to offer their opinions and ask pointed, pertinent questions? Hasn’t Sandler ever heard of the Socratic dialogue?

    To be accurate, Sandler should have said, “This is an academic institution in which only those who, like me, heap unqualified praise upon Ms. Moskowitz, will be allowed to speak.”

    Eva begins by joking that her Success Academy organization was facing 22 lawsuits — none of which she was able to obtain a quick summary dismissal … they’re all going to trial — and she was jokingly soliciting the lawyers present in the room for possible employment to represent Success Academy. Har-dee, har-har… LOL

    Now, you would think that if Eva’s organization is facing 22 separate lawsuits — credible enough so that for none of them she was able to obtain a dismissal — you would think that that maybe … just maybe … a lightbulb might go on above Eva’s head, and she would consider the possibility that she might be doing something, or some things wrong in how she operates her schools.

    Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t anyone?

    After all, that’s a lot of money that Eva must now devote towards legal fees, after all — money that will not be going to the kids in the classroom.

    Nahhhh, not in Eva’s mind. She adopts the the classic “in-group” paranoia and superiority towards any criticism from the outside, or from any “out-groups.” “We / the in-group are/is always right,” is what rules the day with Eva. “Anyone critical of us is always wrong, and part of a failed educational status quo that puts adult interests ahead of children’s interests … blah-blah-blah … ”

    Immediately after Shanice Givens’ confronting of Eva — described above by Mercedes — a well-dressed pro-Success Academy parent is the next questioner. Thomas Lopez Pierre begins his remarks by saying that he’s a candidate for NYC City Council, then provides gushing praise for Eva and what Success Academy has done for his son. He even spouts the “My son was trapped in a failing school” line.

    In contrast to the parent criticizing Eva, Ross Sandler lets Pierre run at the mouth, but only while Pierre effusively praises Eva & Success Academy.

    Standing beside Eva, Sandler nods and smiles as if to say, “Now, that’s more like it.”

    However — as Mercedes describes above — that same parent, in mid-speech, then surprises everyone, and does a total 180. He goes on the same attack as Givens for Eva’s exclusive admission and expulsion policies. The moderator Ross Sandler then intervenes on Pierre:

    MODERATOR ROSS SANDLER: (visibly irritated at Pierre) “Let me just step in a second. This is an academic institution, and decorum is required of everybody, and I have no doubt that everyone in this room will honor that.”

    Again, with the “academic institution” nonsense.

    The angry parents are not yet through with Eva. Risking Sandler’s wrath for allegedly displaying bad “decorum,” Faida Geidi later steps up to the mic.

    Remember Faida Geidi, the parent who’s also upset at Eva and shared as much during PBS’s John Merrow television report — a report highly critical of Eva and her schools — last November?

    Eva was furious about Geidi’s participation in the Merrow piece. To retaliate, Eva illegally released Geidi’s son’s private discipline and personal records to the press — a clear violation of both a child’s and parent’s privacy rights under federal FERPA privacy laws, and for which Eva will soon have to answer in court, as Geidi is suing her. Geidi responded, in part, by saying that the publicly released accounts of her son’s behavior in school were either false or highly exaggerated.

    Well, Geidi gives Eva and earful as well … at 49:05


    I don’t have time to transcribe this, so just watch Faida Geidi, yourself at 49:05: (this is what then provoked Eva’s unintentionally revealing “customer service” comment … where Eva inadvertently likens her schools to for-profit businesses that provide “customer service.”)

    Watch how, again, the moderator Sandler again tries but fails to silence this parent.

    Here’s moderator Ross Sandler’s attitude in a nutshell …

    “When praising Eva, I’ll let you talk all you want.”

    “When criticizing Eva, you are showing bad ‘decorum’ and must be shut up, or I’ll have your mic turned off.”

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