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An Albany judge ordered a Jamaica charter school last week to halt its efforts to fire a quarter of its staff.
State Supreme Court Justice Michael C. Lynch responded to a request filed by the state Public Employment Relations Board Aug. 25 to stop the layoffs of 11 instructors at the Merrick Academy. In July, the teachers were notified by a message sent by FedEx that they would not be working at the elementary school at 207-01 Jamaica Ave.
Responding to the board’s request, which was mailed last week, the judge said there must be a full hearing on the matter and said Merrick’s board “is hereby enjoined and restrained from implementing its decision to discontinue the employment of the teachers and teaching assistants.”
Lynch’s temporary restraining order against the terminations went into effect Friday, when he held a hearing on the board’s request, according to the United Federation of Teachers, which has been fighting for the Merrick instructors who have been negotiating for a contract for two years.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew contended the firings, which comprised more than a quarter of the school’s staff, were made in retaliation for months of protests against the board for the lack of a contract.
“The staff of Merrick Charter School has fought to make the school a better place for students, their families and the professionals who work there. They deserve better than to be fired for their efforts,” he said in a statement.
Gerald Karikari, the head of Merrick’s board, declined to comment about the firings.
“I think it was a wise decision to wait till Friday before putting anything into effect,” he said of the judge’s decision.
Eully Risi, 28, of Whitestone, who is one of the 11 instructors who was laid off, traveled to Albany to be at the hearing when Lynch issued the restraining order.
“It was very intense to be there because we didn’t know what was going on, but it’s a victory,” she said.
The instructor said she and her fellow instructors will be watching the proceedings closely and hoped the courts would give them a fair resolution.
“We’re thinking positive,” Risi said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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