Back to Court on School Closings
May 18th, 2011
A year after they successfully sued to stop school closings, the United Federation of Teachers and the NAACP have returned to court to try to stop the latest round of school phase outs and shut-downs. This year’s action also seeks to halt 18 so-called co-locations of charter schools with traditional public school buildings in Department of Education buildings.
In the action, the UFT and the NAACP, joined by individuals and community groups, charge that the city ignored agreements it had reached last year to help the school its was then trying to close. Fifteen of the schools named in today’s legal action had won a temporary reprieve from last year’s suit. The city announced in December it would try again to close them. Four schools cited last year, though, are not longer slated for shutdown.
In addition, the plaintiffs charge the city did not seek approval from the state education commissioner for the closing, something the suit says it must do.
On the co-locations, the suit charges the plans give students in charter school better access to school facilities than those of the traditional public schools with which it shares space. For example the suit alleges, the department’s plan for the PS114 building would allow PS114 students to use of the gym for three and a half hours every day, while Explore Charter School, with far fewer students, would get the space for almost three hours. The charter students also would have use of the playground for more time.
Following last year’s suit, the Department of Education implemented new procedures for school closings and co-locations, including more public hearings and distributing additional information on the proposed closing or collocation. Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the city has shut more than 90 school and opened 335 schools, many small, both conventional schools and charters.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott is scheduled to respond to the suit later today.By Gail Robinson on May 18, 2011, 2:08 pm
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