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NYC school closings blocked – decision summary – first coverage

March 26, 2010 pm31 5:06 pm

A few hours ago the Joan Lobis of the NY State Supreme Court issued a ruling in the UFT/NAACP suit to stop the DoE from closing 19 schools, beginning in September. [edit: copy of decision, via Edwize]

Mostly she focused on the failure of the DoE to comply with provisions of the new governance law:

  • The DoE did not prepare detailed Educational Impact Statements (the court described much of what was prepared as “boilerplate”)
  • The DoE EISs did not specify where lost seats would be replaced (just that they would be absorbed throughout the City)
  • The DoE EISs did not address special programs in schools being closed, and where those programs would become available.
  • The DoE failed to provide printed copies of the EISs to parents and school communities.
  • The SLT-CEC meetings had agendas and scripts provided by the DoE, and can not be considered to have been “joint meetings.”
  • The DoE claimed that its failure to comply was not serious, and should be addressed going forward, but that the PEP decision should not be voided. The court found that “Respondents’ very arguments would appear to trivialize the whole notion of community involvement” and cited the reversal of the Smith closure as evidence.
  • “if strict compliance were not mandated… agencies would be tempted to circumvent the legislative mandates”
  • “where statutory language is clear regarding procedural steps… and those steps have not been taken, the administrative action must fail.”

The court further noted that if and when the DoE follows the law and obtains meaningful community input, they may make other decisions such as the Smith decision, to modify their initial proposals.

In so finding the court made the following four-part decision:

  1. The DoE, Klein, Board of Ed have “failed to  comply with the requirements of Ed Law” 2590
  2. The votes of the PEP to close the 19 schools are “null and void.”
  3. Respondents must reissue EISs for the 19 schools to comply with 2590
  4. “As and until respondents have complied with Education Law 2590-h, they are permanently enjoined from prohibiting enrollment in the 19 schools affected by this decision.

More coverage

Daily News —  Post Times Gotham Schools

Edit: more links (8 PM) — Inside SchoolsEdwizeNYC EducatorNew Action.

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