Daniel Loeb’s Racially Charged Post Could Be Sticking Point for Expansion of Success Academy Charter Schools

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Group with approval power said it would be ‘very difficult’ for network to expand if Loeb doesn’t step down from board

Hedge Fund manager Daniel Loeb said in a Facebook post this month that state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a black Democrat who serves as state Senate minority leader, had done ‘more damage to people of color than anyone who ever donned a hood.’ Mr. Loeb has apologized for the post, which has been deleted.
Hedge Fund manager Daniel Loeb said in a Facebook post this month that state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a black Democrat who serves as state Senate minority leader, had done ‘more damage to people of color than anyone who ever donned a hood.’ Mr. Loeb has apologized for the post, which has been deleted. PHOTO: ANDREW KELLY/REUTERS

The head of a group that approves New York charter schools said Monday that it would be “very difficult” for Success Academy Charter Schools to expand if hedge-fund manager Daniel Loeb doesn’t step down from the charter network’s board in light of his recent racial remark.

In a Facebook post this month, Mr. Loeb said state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a black Democrat who serves as state Senate minority leader, had done “more damage to people of color than anyone who ever donned a hood” because of her loyalty to unions, according to a screenshot reported in the New York Times.

Mr. Loeb has apologized for the post, which was deleted, and said he regretted the language he used in expressing his “passion for educational choice.”

A chorus of Democratic politicians and others have called for Mr. Loeb to resign from the charter network in recent days. Joseph Belluck, chair of the Charter Schools Committee that oversees charter schools authorized by the State University of New York, ratcheted up the pressure on Monday.

Mr. Loeb’s “continued presence there is going to be quite a challenge for us as the authorizer” of these charters, said Mr. Belluck, who called the Facebook post “reprehensible.”

Representatives for Mr. Loeb declined to respond to Mr. Belluck’s comments Monday.

Success Academies, the city’s largest charter operator, has 46 charters open in New York City and wants to grow to 100 in a decade. Mr. Belluck, a longtime supporter of the high-performing network, heads the committee that decides whether to approve its applications to open new sites, and renew existing ones.

“It would be difficult for me to expand the network of a school that has somebody on the board that holds those views,” Mr. Belluck said. I“I’m trying to signal it would be very difficult going forward if he doesn’t” step down.t was important, he said, to show children that people should be held accountable for racially charged comments, especially in the wake of a white-supremacy rally in Charlottesville, Va., this month.

A spokeswoman for Success Academies said: by email that “SUNY is a strong authorizer and has always been fair and supportive of Success, and we know that it will make decisions on the merits of what’s best for students.”

Most of the charter network’s students are poor and black or Hispanic. Supporters praise its high test scores and orderly environment; critics accuse it of draining resources from traditional public schools and using overly harsh discipline. Teachers unions generally oppose charters, which usually aren’t unionized.

Mr. Belluck said that his committee has oversight over individual charter schools, and Mr. Loeb is chairman of the board of the network as a whole, so it is unclear how much direct authority the committee has over his position. The committee has leverage over Success Academy’s future, however, due to its power to approve or deny school applications.

A spokesman for Ms. Stewart-Cousins said after news of the post broke in early August that “in 2017 it is outrageous and offensive that this type of language is used by someone with such wide political influence.”

Write to Leslie Brody at leslie.brody@wsj.com

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