Court rules to keep 'failing' schools open
by Dawn Lim
Jul 06, 2010 | 726 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Five Brooklyn schools and three in Queens that were given a failing mark and slated for shutdown will be kept open - for now.

A state appellate court ruled unanimously July 1 that the city’s Department of Education (DOE) could not move forward with plans to close 19 city schools that failed to boost student performance.

The Bloomberg administration’s blacklist included Jamaica High School in Queens, as well as Metropolitan Corporate Academy in Downtown Brooklyn.

Both schools, which could not be reached for comment, struggle with high truancy and low graduation rates. Both have been on the State Education Department’s list of “persistently dangerous” schools for violent incidents.

Phase-outs for both schools had been on the books last year to free up space for new schools, but the court ruled that the city failed to indicate how these school closures would impact its students and the community.

The decision notes that officials abused their discretion by “limiting the information they provided to the obvious.”

The city had not held joint public hearings with community education councils, which are mandated by law to justify shutdowns of schools, the court added.

The other schools in Queens saved from shutdown were Beach Channel High School, and Business, Computer Applications and Entrepreneurship High School.  

In Brooklyn, the list of schools to stay open inlcudes Middle School for Academic and Social Excellence, Paul Robeson High School, William H. Maxwell Career and Technical Education High School and P.S. 332.

Advocates hailed the ruling as a victory for the community.

“No one is above the law, and every court that has looked at this issue has ruled decisively that the Department of Education violated the law when it tried to close these schools,” said Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, which sued the DOE alongside the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz applauded the court decision, saying “that schools should only be closed as a last resort.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg wasn’t pleased.

“What it means is that there's a whole bunch of kids that at least for one year will get a terrible education they'll probably never recover from,” he said at a press conference.

The city, it seems, is determined to push forward with plans to shut down what it has identified as underperforming schools. Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has indicated that the city would relaunch plans to close down the schools next year.

“We will continue to work, in accordance with the law, to close schools that are failing our students,” Klein said, “and replace them with small schools, which have been proven to be more effective.”

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