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Courts to DOE: Stop the School Closings

Declaring that the DoE has “trivialized the whole notion of community involvement …” in school closures, the Supreme Court of the State of New York has reversed the DoE’s attempt to close nineteen of our schools. According to the court, the legislators who created the law that guides closures “…created a public process with meaningful community involvement.” The DoE did not follow that law. In particular the court seemed to take offense at the DoE’s own suggestion during the course of the case that in the future “…rather than being ordered to comply with the Education Law, they should be permitted to develop their own guidelines for compliance…” That’s not a new position for the DoE — that they believe they can write their own rules — and it is nice to see the arrogance of it (my words, not hers) alluded to by the judge.

[Read the full decision here.]

What is more, the court noted that there was “boilerplate treatment and a lack of meaningful detail regarding the impact on students of the proposed closures, ” and especially in special programs. What would happen to the LYFE Centers in some of the closing schools, programs that include child care and parenting classes for students with children? What would happen to the special programs of Choir Academy? It was the DoE’s responsibility to inform and engage the community on these matters, but it had not.

The decision is good news. As anyone knows who has looked at my postings on Edwize over the last few months, I do not believe that these schools are indeed “failing” schools, even by the DoE’s standards:

Schools that continually fail their students need to close or be changed in significant ways. But school closures are destabilizing for the communities around them and the students who attend them. And that’s why we need to get it right.

Getting it right means a true assessment of the school, and a true engagement of the school community. The DoE did not do either.

A few months ago, I wrote that I thought the schools deserved an apology and a reprieve. We have the reprieve, though the DoE is sure to appeal the decision. Will we get the apology too?

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3 Comments:

  • 1 NYC school closings blocked – decision summary – first coverage « JD2718
    · Mar 26, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    […] more links (8 PM) — Inside Schools — Edwize — NYC Educator — New Action — […]

  • 2 Arthur Goldstein
    · Mar 31, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    We also need to be absolutely sure that the statistics on which they base school closures are examined very carefully. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect they be accurate. In the case of Jamaica, neither was the case, and there’s no reason to think a careful examination wouldn’t find equally serious flaws in the other targeted schools.

    In any case, I must advise you to sit while you wait for Tweed’s apology.

  • 3 Alan Coles
    · Jan 29, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Years ago unruly students were placed in the old 600 schools. Due to a lawsuit by parents the public schools were forced to admit these students. The DOE is now funneling these students to schools they wish to take over for privately run schools. This is at taxpayers expense. It’s alot cheeper to shut a school down then it is to build a new one. There should be an investigation through the Freedom of Information Act as to how those poor performing students (truants, homeless,ESL, and those with discipline problems) ended up at those schools set for closure. Talk about opening Pandora’s box. Every incident report, that deemed a school dangerous, has the name of the student involved. Those students who did poorly on standardized test, putting that school on the failing schools list, can be easily looked up. When any of my students who fit the above catagory were asked where they resided it was in another boro, far away from the school or Rikers Island. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist
    to see that these students were sent to those schools set for closure on purpose. This is an idea that our union should have looked into a long time ago. Mr. Mayor,since you like statistics,show us these statistics.