The New York State Supreme Court last week green-lighted the Teaching Firms of America charter school to share space with regular students within P.S. 308 located at 616 Quincy Street starting this September.
But local elected officials, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and the NAACP vowed to continue their lawsuit after state Supreme Court Judge Paul Feinman ruled the city’s Department of Education (DOE) can move ahead with their plans to close 22 schools and co-locate 15 charter schools (including P.S. 308) in existing public schools this school year.
“While this decision is disappointing to the many of us who feel that these policy choices by the DOE are not in the best interests of our students and communities, it must be noted that the judge conceded that it is not the court’s role to evaluate the ‘wisdom of educational policy decisions,’” said City Council member Al Vann.
The UFT/NAACP lawsuit sought an injunction to keep the schools from closing and the charter schools from sharing schoolroom space alleging that in doing so it created a separate but equal situation in the public school system.
The ruling follows a similar lawsuit the teachers union and the NAACP successfully filed last year that focused only on school closings, and those schools remained open.
Under that ruling, the city was ordered to take steps to improve the process by which it closed schools. Local elected officials, the teachers union and the NAACP continue to maintain these steps have not been taken.
Thus, the ruling, while allowing the closure of schools and co-location of charter schools this year, the courts have yet to decide if the city’s Department of Education has taken adequate steps to allow for equal resources and criteria to judge what constitutes a failing school.
DOE Chancellor Dennis Walcott hailed the ruling.
“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, and for that I am very happy,” Walcott said.