Public Advocate Letitia James not only plans to sue to shut down "co-located" charter schools — her team wants a judge to suspend the admissions lottery for the 2014-15 academic year.
The move would slam at least 4,500 city families slated to enter a new class — and thousands more already in charter schools — all because of James' opposition to Mayor de Blasio's decision to let 36 schools share space in public school buildings.
Children hoping to enroll in a charter next year must sign up for the city-run lottery by April 1.
The lottery-deadline delay would be a legal strategy in a lawsuit filed by charter-school opponents including James, who is the lead plaintiff.
"We may ask the court to push the deadline back," lawyer Arthur Schwartz said as he stood next to James at a meeting with parent and school leaders.
Schwartz said he would ask a judge on Tuesday to suspend the lottery while James' suit proceeds.
A delay would upend the plans of students and their families and could disrupt schools by keeping them from knowing whether they'll be able to enroll students next year.
Charter-school leaders called the suit "senseless" and blasted James for "putting ideology before kids."
"The destructive tactics . . . would create havoc and uncertainty for tens of thousands of New York City families from low-income communities," New York City Charter School Center CEO James Merriman said.
James and teacher's union backing the suit complained that de Blasio was not doing enough to curb the growth of the popular schools.
"We're moving forward with the litigation because, clearly, the process is broken," James said at a parent forum in Downtown Brooklyn.
"The mayor did not engage parents today on this issue, so we're looking for an expedited review."
De Blasio's decision last month to let 36 charters and district schools operate in the same buildings as other public schools enraged both charter-school and district-school advocates.
District-school backers like James and her allies complained that de Blasio approved too many co-locations, while charter advocates were angry that he rejected nine other co-location proposals — including three Success Academy schools.
On Saturday, the mayor promised to find space for 139 students who had planned on attending a Success Academy school whose plan he denied, after Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña was blasted for saying the kids were "on their own."
"That is something we are going to work out in the coming days," de Blasio said. "They, like every child in the city, have the right to a good education. We want to help make sure that happens."
But charter and district parents are digging in for a long fight.
Thousands of charter supporters rallied in Albany Tuesday to urge state legislators to trump de Blasio and find space for growing charter schools, which now enroll about 70,000 students.
Public-school parents pleaded with city officials and the court to slow all recent co-locations, citing concerns over student safety and overcrowding.
"What de Blasio should have done is say everything is paused, to give us time to study this," said Community Education Council 6 member Tory Frye, a parent.
"That's why we got him elected. There's still time for him to go back and say it."
Merriman ripped James' involvement in the case.
"She would do well to remember that her title is public advocate, not advocate for the teachers union," he said.