Beth Fertig is WNYC’s Contributing Editor for Education. She previously covered politics, which included City Hall during the Giuliani administration, and the U.S. Senate campaigns of Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton. She also covered transportation and infrastructure.
Teachers Union, Allies Sue Over School Closings
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
The United Federation of Teachers, the NAACP and parents and politicians are suing to stop the city from closing 22 struggling schools that are supposed to stop taking new students this fall. The same groups won a similar case last year involving 15 of the 22 schools slated for closure by the Department of Education.
The plaintiffs went back to court because they say the city didn't provide the schools with the additional help it promised in the settlement last year, according to Ken Cohen, the NAACP's regional director for its New York state conference.
They also claim the city didn't give the schools enough resources or time to improve before the Panel for Educational Policy voted in February to close them. And the plaintiffs claim some of the schools require state approval to be closed.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott called the suit "outrageous" and accused the UFT of taking steps to "try to keep students in failing schools and block families from access to better options in the fall."
"This shameful lawsuit is about one thing: protecting jobs for adults at the expense of what is best for our children," Walcott said.
The groups expanded their suit this year and are also trying to stop the city from co-locating or expanding a total of 18 charter schools in buildings with regular schools. The plaintiffs claim the city is giving the privately managed charters more access to gyms, libraries, cafeterias and other facilities than the regular schools.
"Schools should not be teaching the lesson to students when they walk in the door what inequality is and looks like," said United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew, who noted state law requires equity when schools share a building.
Three of the buildings that are supposed to take charter schools house schools that are among the 22 the city plans to close.
A handful of parents have signed onto the suit as well as the Alliance for Quality Education. It's also joined by politicians including State Senators Eric Adams, Tony Avella, and Bill Perkins; Assembly Member Alan Maisel; Bronx Borough President Reuben Diaz, Jr.; Council Members Charles Barron, Robert Jackson, Letitia James, Stephen Levin, Erik Martin Dilan, Mark Weprin, and Ruben Wills.
The schools the city plans to begin closing this fall are:
Bronx Academy High School
IS 195 Roberto Clemente
John F. Kennedy High School
Pacific High School
Performance Conservatory High School
PS 102 Joseph O. Loretan
The following schools are also part of the lawsuit. They were to have begun closing last fall before the UFT, the NAACP and other groups won a similar suit:
Academy for Collaborative Education
Academy for Environmental Science
Beach Channel High School
Christopher Columbus High School
Frederick Douglass Academy III (middle school grades)
Global Enterprise High School
Jamaica High School
Metropolitan Corporate Academy
Monroe Academy for Business and Law
New Day Academy
Norman Thomas High School
Paul Robeson High School
PS 332 Charles H. Houston
School for Community Research and Learning