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Appeal Expected In Ruling That Blocks Shutdown of 19 NY Schools

March 29, 2010

NEW YORK - The Bloomberg administration is expected to file an appeal this week in response to the stinging ruling that prevents the city from closing 19 so-called failing schools. A State Supreme Court judge on Friday found significant violations in the way mayoral control of city schools is being implemented. The judge noted that the city was moving to close schools without first hearing any meaningful involvement from the communities being affected.

Zakiyah Ansari is New York City organizer with the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE), which was one of the groups that filed the suit.

"Finally someone has listened to the voice of the people, long overdue; I just wish it had been the Department of Education. Those educational impact statements were not meaningful; and they did not engage us, the key stakeholders, in the conversation."

Chancellor Joel Klein blamed the teachers' union for the slap-down by the court. He says it was a pity the union sued to keep kids in failing schools if it saved them jobs.

Ansari counters that the education department should have had its "A-Team" out trying to fix the failing schools, rather than shutting them down.

She says she is relieved by the ruling, but calls it only a first step.

"Parents in those schools that were scheduled to close, and the young people in those schools, have got to go into those schools and figure out, 'Why were we even on this list? Why were we even scheduled to close?' and get involved, and get engaged, and get empowered. That's the only way any kind of change in our community is going to happen, is if we do it."

The NAACP and United Federation of Teachers joined AQE in the law suit.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY