Students Denied Access to Manhattan High School Where They Are Scheduled to Take SATs

The city has said that Success Academy students can't enter Norman Thomas High School on East 33rd Street because the charter school is operating remotely, but the leader of the school is accusing the mayor of 'playing politics with kids' futures'

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Off limits — that's what New York City officials had said about a Manhattan high school where nearly 300 students were scheduled to take the SAT exams next week. Those plans that can determine a student's future were temporarily put on hold.

"It's like I've been working so hard for nothing. And I need to get this," said Alvaro Crawford, a Success Academy student. Many of the students who have been blocked are from the charter school, which has 20,000 students citywide. The leader of the schools, Eva Moskowitz, has been at odds with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio for some time.

"We have a clear absence in the City of New York, to take out your hostility for charters and to Success on young black and brown students who are trying to make something of themselves," Moskowitz said.

The city has said that students can't enter Norman Thomas High School on East 33rd Street because Success Academy is operating remotely. The charter school filed a lawsuit on Wednesday, seeking a temporary restraining order against the entry ban.

"That justification has no basis in law, and in fact it's a tetbook example of an arbitrary and capricious justification, which is impermissible," said the school's attorney, Aaron Safane.

Moskowitz said she's surprised at the action, especially after some seniors at her schools tool their SAT exam two weeks ago in the very same building.

"And in terms of the SATs, we follow all of the protocols: temperature checks, social distancing," Moskowitz said. She admits she's been fighting the city over access to her schools' athletic fields, and in her mind this is just another attempt to block access for her students.

The SAT test scheduled for Nov. 7 is for juniors. The test is offered several times a year, but some students say they don't have the money to take the test multiple times. Others don't want to miss a potential opportunity to get a good score.

"Taking away one of the times limits how high I can get," Crawford said, referring to her test score.

Moskowitz said she's not sure what's going to happen or come of the lawsuit, but she is "hoping and praying that the mayor comes to his senses, or his advisers say, 'Mr. Mayor, let's not play politics with kids' futures."

Late Wednesday, the city's Department of Education told NBC New York that they haven't denied a permit, citing Success Academy's confusion about weekend access. They said they're prepared to support SAT testing with safety guidelines.

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