The bombshell decision leaves the fate of all 19 schools and their staffs up in the air and forces the Department of Education to rewrite arguments for why they deserve to be shut down
The city received the decision at 12:30 this afternoon, two days after the deadline for high school students to be notified about which schools they'll attend in the fall. In February, the teachers union sued the city, arguing that the DOE had violated the law that governs school closures. The decision (posted below) notes:
"The court wishes to make clear, however, that this decision is not intended to prevent completion of the matching process for any students who are not directly affected by the proposed closure or phase out of the 19 schools."
The court decision is based on three, clear findings of fact:
1. The EIS's "failed to provide any meaningful information regarding the impacts on the students or the ability of the schools in the affected community to accommodate those students" in the closing schools, or where the students would be able to find" similar programs elsewhere, such as the LYFE centers, for pregnant students or those with small children.
2. Lack of public notice: the DOE failed to provide hard copies of these proposals to CECs, Community boards, Community superintendents, and SLTs.
3. The DOE failed to hold joint meetings with the SLTs and CECs; some of whose members were invited to participate but had only a minimal role.
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A Manhattan judge on Friday reversed a city decision to close 19 schools for poor performance, ruling that education officials engaged in “significant violations” of state education law and failed to follow proper process in closing the schools.
The ruling means the city will have to start over again in making its case to close the schools — this time including more community input. That lengthy process will delay the moment when thousands of eighth graders who applied to the closing schools learn where they will go to school in the fall. It represents a victory for the United Federation of Teachers and the N.A.A.C.P., which had filed suit to stop the closings.
The judge, Joan B. Lobis of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, said the decision is not intended to delay admissions notifications for the other 80,000 eighth graders citywide who did not apply to the schools that are affected. High school admissions letters citywide, originally due to be distributed March 24, had been delayed pending the outcome of this lawsuit. The ruling may allow them to go out shortly.
Judge Lobis ruled that the city failed to act in compliance with education law when it issued its Educational Impact Statements for the schools, providing insufficient detail of what the closings would mean to the surrounding community, her ruling said.
The city, she said, “failed to provide the detailed analysis an impact statement mandates.”
The city must reissue the statements for the 19 schools before it completes the process of finding seats for the 8,500 students who applied to those schools, she ruled. While the court realizes “this will create inconvenience” for those students, it “cannot overlook what it reluctantly concludes are significant violations of the education law by respondents.”
The January 26 votes by the Panel of Education Policy to close the schools, which followed nearly 9 hours of public comment, are “null and void,” she said.
The schools that have gotten at least a temporary reprieve include Jamaica High School and Beach Channel High School in Queens; Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx; Paul Robeson High School in Brooklyn; and Norman Thomas High School in Manhattan, along with smaller schools, including the Global Enterprise Academy in the Bronx and the high school grades of the Choir Academy in Manhattan.
“We are thrilled,” said Christine Rowland, the U.F.T. representative at Columbus High School. “I think there’s a chance now. It was so hard for us to get anyone to listen in the very tight space of time we’ve had.”
The Department of Education did not have an initial comment, but a press officer said that lawyers were reviewing the decision.
Daily News - Judge sides with teachers; halts city plan to close 19 schools - By Tanyanika Samuels and Rachel Monahan
In a stunning blow to the city, a judge halted the controversial closing of 19 failing schools that some teachers and students fought to keep open.
The surprising decision elated critics of the mass closures, who packed hearings to speak up for their schools.
"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."
"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."
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."
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 new school slated to take over space in closing schools next fall.
Those schools remained open and were not put on the closing list again.
List of the 19 schools:
2. School for Community Research and Learning
3. Christopher Columbus High School
6. Metropolitan Corporate Academy
10. Jamaica High School
11. Business, Computer Applications and Entrepreneurship High School
12. PS 332
13. KAPPA II
15. Middle School for Academic and Social Excellence
16. New Day Academy
The teachers union won a lawsuit today in its bid to roll back the city's plan to close 19 low-performing public schools.
The United Federation of Teachers filed the suit in Manhattan Supreme Court last month, accusing the city of ramming its plan through in a way "that would have made Tammany Hall proud."
The union claimed the Department of Education plan violated state law because it failed to consider the impact of the closings on their communities.
As a result, the Department of Education has to either redo the entire student application process or revert to an old list in which kids had picked those schools.
Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein have defended closing schools that they say are failing.
Among the 19 schools that had been slated for closure were six large high schools, including Jamaica and Beach Channel in Queens, Paul Robeson in Brooklyn and Columbus in The Bronx.
The judges ruling also appeared to clear the way for the Department of Education to notify all but the 8,500 students who initially applied to one of the closing schools of their high school placements -- which had been delayed since Wednesday.
A DOE spokesman said officials were reviewing the decision.
A school board vote to close 19 city schools is “null and void,” according to a decision handed down by a state Supreme Court justice today.
The bombshell decision leaves the fate of all 19 schools and their staffs up in the air and forces the Department of Education to rewrite arguments for why they deserve to be shut down. The ruling is the first time a court has interpreted the new mayoral control law Albany put in place last summer.
The city received the decision at 12:30 this afternoon, two days after the deadline for high school students to be notified about which schools they’ll attend in the fall.
In February, the teachers union sued the city, arguing that the DOE had violated the law that governs school closures. The decision (posted below) notes:
“The court wishes to make clear, however, that this decision is not intended to prevent completion of the matching process for any students who are not directly affected by the proposed closure or phase out of the 19 schools…”