A Manhattan Supreme Court judge ruled late Thursday night against an injunction sought by the United Federation of Teachers and the NAACP over the city Department of Education’s plan to close 22 city shools, including Jamaica HS and Beach Channel HS.
The ruling by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Paul Feinman allows the DOE to go ahead with its closure plans.
The May lawsuit filed by the UFT and the NAACP argued that the DOE ignored agreements it made with the teachers’ union stemming from a successful lawsuit last year to provide specific help to many of the schools it had tried to close.
The current lawsuit also accused the DOE of ignoring its legal obligation to seek the assistance of the state education commissioner before it shuttered schools. The lawsuit claimed the city’s Panel for Education Policy approved plans that the UFT said illegally gave charter school students more access to school facilities, including libraries, auditoriums and lunchrooms that students in public schools in the same locations shared with the charters.
Feinman sided with the city.
“Because plaintiffs have failed to show a likelihood of success on the merits on their claims for a declaration that would enjoin the closure or phase out of the designated schools, or would bar the co-locations of the charter schools in the designed public school buildings, their motion must be denied,” he said.
City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott hailed Feinman’s decision.
“From the beginning of the Bloomberg Administration, we have said that a primary focus of our reform efforts would be to phase out schools that have failed our children year after year, and offer families new, high-quality options,” he said. “...[T[he court clearly stated that ‘if the failing public schools are not closed, students may be subject to substandard educational environments which will obviously cause them to be considerably harmed.’ I know this decision will come as great comfort and relief to the thousands of children who have been in limbo, wondering what the outcome of this case would be, and for that I am very happy.”
The UFT will continue to argue its case.
“While Judge Feinman has declined our request for an injunction,” a spokesman for the UFT said in an e-mail, “his decision does not affect the underlying issues of fairness and due process in the school co-locations and closings that are part of this lawsuit. These issues remain to be resolved, and the UFT intends to continue to litigate this matter.”
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2011 Community News Group
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