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Friday, July 22, 2011

Mike Mulgrew Loses In NYS Supreme Court His Request To Stop The Closing of 19 Schools

Mike Mulgrew and the NAACP have lost in the New York State Supreme Court their request for an injunction against the closing of 19 public schools.

New York State Supreme Court Judge Paul Feinman

See here (Scribd) or here
Wikipedia has a rather extensive listing for the prior lawsuit in 2010.

City may proceed with school closings: court

NEW YORK, July 22 (Reuters) - New York City may go ahead with a plan to shutter 22 low-performing schools, a Manhattan judge ruled on Thursday, dealing a blow to the city's biggest teacher's union.

The United Federation of Teachers and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had accused the New York City Department of Education of failing to honor a 2010 agreement that the union claimed would enable the struggling schools to survive.

In denying the UFT and NAACP a preliminary injunction, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Paul Feinman said the union had not presented clear and convincing evidence that the schools could be "easily turned around."

"To adopt plaintiff's position would require the court to engage in speculation as to what might or might not have come to pass had the Letter Agreement been strictly followed," Feinman wrote.

Feinman also ruled that the city could move 15 charter schools into buildings occupied by public schools, a move that the union contended would lead to overcrowding and strain existing facilities.

But he stressed that his decision was only temporary and said the ruling did not address "the ultimate questions" posed by the suit.

Peter Kadushian, a spokesman for the union, said in a statement that while the injunction was denied, the holding "does not affect the underlying issues of fairness and due process in the school co-locations and closings that are part of this lawsuit."


The tug of war between the union and the city began last year after the union tried to block the DOE from closing 19 struggling schools.

After a judge held that the city's closure plan violated the state education law, the city said in a letter agreement it would take certain steps aimed at improving the schools. These included offering online programs designed to help over-age students graduate and deploying social workers and psychologists in the embattled schools.

In December 2010, the Department of Education announced that it planned to shut down 27 schools.

The UFT, joined by the NAACP and the Alliance for Quality Education, sued the DOE, claiming breach of contract and seeking to stop the city from closing most of the underperforming schools. They also maintained the city had presented inadequate justification for its plan to have charter schools and public schools share space in the same building.

Feinman acknowledged that closing the struggling schools could harm students by exposing them to "substandard education environmental environments."

But he said forcing the DOE to comply with the letter agreement "may or may not benefit students, depending upon one's faith in the Education Plan there embodied to remedy all or most of a failing school's problems."

"The equities do not tip in either direction," Feinman concluded.

For the plaintiffs: Charles Moerdler, Alan Klinger and Ernst Rosenberger of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. Carol Gerstl and Adam Ross of United Federation of Teachers.

For the DOE: Chlarens Orsland and Emily Sweet of the New York City Law Department.

The case is Mulgrew v. The Board of Education, New York State Supreme court, New York County, 105855/11.
(Reporting by Noeleen Walder)

July 21, 2011
Judge Rules Against Union on City Plan to Close Schools

In a defeat for the city’s teachers’ union, a judge ruled on Thursday that the Education Department could proceed with plans to close 22 schools because of poor performance and place 15 charter schools in the buildings of traditional schools in September.

In his ruling in a lawsuit brought by the union, the United Federation of Teachers, Justice Paul G. Feinman of State Supreme Court wrote that the suit had not met the standard that would be required for the court to immediately stop the city from moving forward. The union failed to clearly prove that the city had acted improperly in its treatment of the closing schools, the judge said, and the city’s plans to locate the charter schools had enough detail to challenge claims that the planning was deficient.

“Because plaintiffs have failed to show a likelihood of success on the merits of their claims,” the judge ruled, “their motion must be denied.”

But Justice Feinman did not dismiss the case entirely, and the union said on Thursday that it planned to move forward with other aspects of the lawsuit. Practically speaking, that means that all the schools will open and close as scheduled in September, even as the court battle continues.

“While Judge Feinman has declined our request for an injunction, his decision does not affect the underlying issues of fairness and due process” that are part of the lawsuit, said Dick Riley, a spokesman for the teachers’ union.

The lawsuit, filed in May, had threatened to alter arrangements for thousands of students at the opening of the school year and to set the stage for a logistical nightmare.

The N.A.A.C.P. had joined with the union in the suit, which among its other claims, said that the city had discriminated against traditional district schools by giving charter schools more time in common spaces like auditoriums and gymnasiums than the traditional schools whose buildings they will share.

Last year, the union and the N.A.A.C.P. prevailed in a similar lawsuit that focused only on school closings, and those schools remained open. The city was then ordered to take steps to improve the process by which it closed schools, and the union argued that those steps had not been taken.

The lawsuit rose to national attention over the last two months, largely because of the N.A.A.C.P.’s involvement. Critics charged that the civil rights organization was on the wrong side of the charter school issue because in New York City, many high-performing charter schools serve mostly black students.

But Hazel N. Dukes, the leader of the New York branch of the N.A.A.C.P., stood her ground, even after she was criticized for accusing a charter school mother of “doing the business of slave masters” by defending the school her daughter attended.

While the lawsuit will continue, the charter school operators and the schools chancellor, Dennis M. Walcott, hailed the decision as a victory. The judge’s reasoning, they said, largely favored the city.

“I am incredibly heartened by the court’s decision tonight,” Mr. Walcott said. “I know this decision will come as great comfort and relief to the thousands of children who have been in limbo, wondering what the outcome of this case would be.”

Anthony Harmon (at left), the UFT’s director of parent and community outreach, and Nicholas Cruz, the parent and community liaison for the Bronx UFT office, pass out coffee and tea.

Coffee? Tea? Muffin?
by Ron Isaac and Maisie McAdoo , published June 27, 2011

UFT members greeted charter school demonstrators in front of 52 Broadway on June 27 with offers of breakfast treats and conversation as the charter advocates called on the union to drop its lawsuit against 18 co-locations.

Their chants yielded to dialogue as UFTers engaged them in constructive conversation. “Parents of our children need not and should not be pitted against each other. The situation is a byproduct of DOE policy,” UFT Director of Staff LeRoy Barr told one of the parents.

“All children should have a good education,” said charter parent Myrna Prince. “I couldn’t agree more,” a UFT staffer replied to her.

The lawsuit, filed jointly with the NAACP and other plaintiffs, asks that the city and the Department of Education halt the closings of 21 schools and to ensure that students in district buildings where the 18 charters wish to co-locate or expand have the same access to facilities as the charters do.

A state judge on June 21 extended an order that forbids the DOE from destroying information necessary for keeping the schools open and from making certain physical changes to buildings with co-locations, while the court considers the request for an injunction. The judge is expected to issue a ruling in the coming weeks.

The charter parents were organized by Success Charter Networks founder Eva Moskowitz, who stood at the back of the small demonstration. They carried signs saying, “Your Lawsuit Hurts My Child” and denounced the UFT.

But as conversations broke out, the protesters accepted the coffee, and the children they brought with them smiled shyly as they munched on UFT bagels and jelly.