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Court Issues Stay on Williamsburg Charter Closing

Monday, April 23, 2012 - 12:34 AM

A Brooklyn charter school won a temporary restraining order on Friday, making it the second charter school this year to successfully resist -- for the moment -- the city’s efforts to close it.

The city first announced that it intended to close the school, Williamsburg Charter High School, in January, after questions were raised about its finances and management.

The city affirmed its decision on April 3, less than 24 hours before a scheduled lottery to determine Williamsburg Charter’s fall freshman class.

Earlier this month Eddie Calderon-Melendez, the school’s founder, was indicted on 11 felony charges, including tax fraud, after an investigation by the office of the state attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman. Williamsburg Charter’s board fired Mr. Calderon-Melendez this winter.

The school’s lawyer, Ellen K. Eagen of Hiscock & Barclay, emphasized in an interview on Saturday that the charges were filed against Mr. Calderon-Melendez, not the school.

Ms. Eagen said Williamsburg Charter was not concerned about getting enough applications to fill the fall freshman class despite the school’s uncertain future. “It’s a testament to the school that we’ve still been receiving applications even though the charter was revoked,” she said.

The school will hold a new lottery for spots in the fall on April 30, Ms. Eagen said.

Williamsburg Charter was the second of four charter schools the Education Department had flagged for closing this year to win a temporary restraining order in court. Peninsula Preparatory Charter School in Far Rockaway, Queens, received a stay last month.

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