19 NYC High Schools Were Illegally Closed, Judge Rules; Mike Bloomberg, Joel Klein Get Smacked Down


A judge ruled today that New York City’s Department of Education illegally closed 19 high schools earlier this year. Several news outlets are reporting the breaking decision (Post, WABC).

The move to close the schools earlier this year was contentious and included a protest in front of Mayor Bloomberg’s house. The actual vote to do so followed a raucous nine-hour hearing on January 26 before the Panel for Educational Policy.

The immediate impact of the ruling is not clear, but the jubilation at one school on the death list is. “Everyone is ecstatic at the news. Everyone is thrilled,” says Christine Rowland, a vigorous opponent of the closures who teaches at Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx. “The timing is wonderful. People are just about to have a break, and we’re very, very happy.”

Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein have both been proponents of closing the 19 low-performing high schools and replacing them with multiple, smaller schools. Opponents have charged that the plan is a shell game that disproportionately affects low-income, minority neighborhoods, and fails to take into account what the neighborhoods want.

But State Supreme Court Judge Joan Lobis ruled the department’s Panel for Education Policy committed “significant violations of Education Law” and “appeared to trivialize the whole notion of community involvement in decisions regarding the closing or phasing out of schools,” WABC reports.

The United Federation of Teachers and the NAACP sued last month to stop the closures, and it appears that they have succeeded — at least until an appeal.

Letters notifying eighth-graders where they will be going next year had been scheduled to be mailed earlier this week but were delayed pending today’s ruling.


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