Judge Blocks City From Closing 19 Schools

Saturday, Mar 27, 2010  |  Updated 8:32 AM EDT
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Judge Blocks City From Closing 19 Schools

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A state Supreme Court judge ruled Friday that the city can't shut down 19 schools slated for closure due to performance concerns, determining the Department of Education violated state education law and neglected to follow procedure in shuttering the schools.

Judge Joan Lobis' ruling favored the teachers union and the NAACP in their case against the city.

The plaintiffs argued the city's plan to close the schools violated a provision under the new mayoral school control law that requires officials to provide a detailed explanation of how the shuttering would affect local communities.

Lobis said the city  “failed to provide the detailed analysis an impact statement mandates," according to the Times.

"This will create inconvenience [for students]"said Lobis, but added that the court “cannot overlook what it reluctantly concludes are significant violations of the Education Law by respondents.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein have defended the closure of schools they say are failing.

While deliberating the case, Lobis put a hold on the city sending out letters telling eighth-graders which high school they'd attend.

Lobis' decision permits the letters to go out to the nearly 80,000 students in limbo with the exception of the 8,500 students who applied to the high schools slated for closure, reports the Daily News. Those students will have to wait awhile longer while the city makes its case to close the schools anew, this time including more input from the community.

Six large high schools were among the 19 on the chopping block, including Christopher Columbus in the Bronx, Jamaica and Beach Channel in Queens and Paul Robeson in Brooklyn.

The city's chief lawyer, Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo of the NYC Law Department, said they would appeal 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," said Cardozo in a statement. "Contrary to the ruling, we believe that the Department of Education complied with the notice and public hearing requirements in the new law.  The Court did not take into account the extra efforts made by the Department to supply the relevant facts and to keep all interested parties informed of the process."

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