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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Judge sides with education activists -halts closing of 19 NYC schools

Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Joan Lobis has heeded the arguments of many education activists and the NAACP in halting the closure of 19 New York City schools.

In the context of the current United Federation of Teachers elections, people should remember that it was the dissident community, activists from the Independent Community of Educators (ICE) and Teachers for a Just Contract (TJC) slates that fought long and hard, and early against the closure of city schools. The dominant UFT caucus, the so-called Unity caucus, only joined the struggle against the school closures in the last few months.
The Daily News broke the news Friday night: Tanyanika Samuels and Rachel Monahan, "Judge sides with teachers; halts city plan to close 19 schools" "Daily News," March 26, 2010
In a stunning blow to education officials, a judge halted the controversial closing of 19 failing schools that some teachers and students fought to keep open.

Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Joan Lobis's ruling Friday sided with the teachers union and the NAACP in their case against the city, which temporarily delayed the high school admissions process.

The surprising decision elated critics of the mass closures, who packed hearings to speak up for their schools, while city officials vowed to appeal.

"The principal made an announcement over the loud speaker and immediately cheers sounded throughout the school," said Christine Rowland, a teacher at Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx. "We are thrilled. This is very exciting."

"Some people ran out into the hallways yelling 'yay,'" said Carlos Perez, 16, ninth-grader, at Global Enterprise High School, in the Bronx. "I think it's great. They should have just left the school alone."

The lawsuit charged that the city had not followed the requirement under the new mayoral control of schools law that officials must provide a full explanation of how the closings would affect school communities.

Lobis found the city "failed to comply with the requirements" of the law and ruled that the middle of the night vote that approved the closing schools in January is "null and void."

"We feel vindicated about our concern that closing these schools without a real process was problematic," said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, one of the elected officials who sued.

City Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo said the city is planning to appeal the decision immediately. "We are disappointed by today's ruling, which, unless it is reversed, requires the Department of Education to keep open schools that are failing our children," he said in statement.

"Contrary to the ruling, we believe that the Department of Education complied with the notice and public hearing requirements in the new law."

Lobis had temporarily banned the city Education Department from giving eighth-graders high school decision letters, which were slated to be handed out Wednesday.

But her judgment allows the letters to go out to all but 8,500 students who applied for admission to the closing high schools. The decision did not come in time for the letters to be given to students before spring break.

"As soon as possible, the Office of Student Enrollment will mail your child's high school admissions letter to the home address listed on his or her high school application," Chancellor Joel Klein wrote in a letter to parents.

There was no immediate indication from the city on whether they will appeal the decision, which will also affect at least 10 new school slated to take over space in closing schools next fall.

After a teachers union lawsuit last year, the city Department of Education backed down on closing three schools - Public Schools 194 and 241 in Manhattan and PS 150 in Brooklyn.

Those schools remained open and were not put on the closing list again.

"We're ecstatic," said James Eterno, a social studies teacher and the teachers union chapter leader at Jamaica High School, in Queens.

"The word is spreading like wildfire throughout the school. We feel like we're born again, like we got a stay of execution."

List of the 19 schools:

1. Academy of Environmental Science

2. School for Community Research and Learning

3. Christopher Columbus High School

4. Global Enterprise High School

5. Monroe Academy for Business/Law

6. Metropolitan Corporate Academy

7. Robeson High School

8. W.H. Maxwell CTE High School

9. Beach Channel High School

10. Jamaica High School

11. Business, Computer Applications and Entrepreneurship High School

12. PS 332


14. Academy of Collaborative Education

15. Middle School for Academic and Social Excellence

16. New Day Academy

17. Choir Academy of Harlem High School

18. Frederick Douglass Academy III Middle School

19. Norman Thomas High School

Read more.

1 comment:

  1. Oh please. Our Union was there to support every school at every point throughout this process. I applaud Mulgrew and his genius staff for all they did for us.

    Thought that you could see beyond your pathetic oppositional position to realize that it took a team of diverse ideologies to make this happen.