In coordinated letters to their school communities, both Josephine Lume and Serphin Maltese, chairs of their respective school boards at MVP and CTK, announced that the Appellate Division ruled unanimously in their favor two weeks ago.
Lume said the decision takes the lawsuit to remove MVP from its current location “back to square one.”
“We hope this fresh defeat for the Diocese’s case will finally prompt Diocesan leadership to drop the lawsuit and accept CTK’s invitation to achieve everyone’s common goals in partnership,” she wrote. “The Diocese to date has not been interested.”
The lawsuit is over a contractual dispute between the diocese and Christ the King, which has rented space to MVP for three years. But according to a 1976 agreement, CTK was not supposed to lease space to a secular entity.
In March 2017, New York Supreme Court ruled that CTK had violated its agreement. The school appealed, bringing the case to the Appellate Division.
In her letter, Lume explained that the court’s new ruling could send the case back to the lower court to have a jury decide whether CTK breached its contract.
CTK has argued that it has become a “customary and usual practice” for charter schools to rent space in Catholic school buildings or properties, she noted.
“As you may know, numerous charter schools throughout the city rent space in Catholic schools, including one in the old Bishop Ford building a block from the Brooklyn Diocese’s headquarters,” Lume wrote.
In a statement, the Brooklyn Diocese said the Appellate Division’s decision means that there are questions of fact requiring a trial in the case.
“The Diocese believes that the facts will not support that claim,” the diocese said, referring to CTK’s argument about charter schools using Catholic school space. “As the Diocese has stated before, it remains open and willing to resolve this dispute amicably.”
“We urge Christ the King to agree to the same terms as every other regional Catholic HS within the diocese,” the diocese added.