Schenectady County

Schenectady school district files suit over charter payments

The Schenectady City School District has filed a lawsuit against the state Education Department to g

The Schenectady City School District has filed a lawsuit against the state Education Department to get back state aid it says it was improperly redirected to the International Charter School of Schenectady.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in state Supreme Court in Albany. The district claims that in January the state improperly sent $740,000 from the district’s state aid to the school, which is scheduled to close at the end of June because of academic underperformance.

District officials said they had withheld the money because ICSS failed to provide proper documentation of the number of enrolled students, including proper names and addresses. The district pays about $9,500 per year for every student at the charter school.

The charter school in December filed what is known as an intercept with the state Education Department in a effort to recover the money. The state sided with ICSS in late January and sent it the money directly — bypassing the district. That money otherwise would have gone to the district.

Earlier this month, the district’s Board of Education authorized Superintendent Eric Ely to proceed with the lawsuit. The case is scheduled to be heard on April 25.

Ely said he believes the state Education Department erred by not requiring ICSS to provide names and addresses for enrolled students.

“That paperwork doesn’t exist,” he said.

ICSS Board President Tracy Petersen criticized the city lawsuit.

“Here we go again. This is another sad and desperate attempt by the Schenectady City School District to disrupt the operations of this school. The district has wasted more than enough time and taxpayer money on their repeated attempts to hurt the children of ICSS,” she said in a statement. “As the intercept process moves forward, we’re going to focus on what’s important — providing our students with a quality education for the remainder of the school year. We encourage the district to consider devoting its energies to doing the same.”

Charter school officials pointed out that state Supreme Court Judge Joseph Teresi rejected the district’s request for a temporary restraining order that would have immediately halted payments to ICSS.

ICSS has filed another intercept to recover nearly $900,000 in additional payments the district has withheld this year. School officials said these funds are critical to maintain the school’s cash flow.

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