UFT and NAACP sue city over school phase-outs

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The UFT and the NAACP are suing the DOE over plans to close 22 city schools, including Jamaica High School.

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By Ivan Pereira
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 4:31 PM

In an 11th hour move, the city’s teachers’ union and the NAACP are once again taking the city Department of Education to court to stop the closing of four southeast Queens schools.

The United Federation of Teachers announced Wednesday that it and the civil rights group were suing the DOE over its plan to phase out 22 city schools, including Jamaica and Beach Channel high schools.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew said the department was violating state law by not giving the failing schools adequate funding and resources to turn their academics around.

“The department is still trying to inappropriately close schools, including most of the schools involved in last year’s court case, even after walking away from its written agreement to help those schools improve,” he said in a statement.

PS 30 in Jamaica and IS 231 in Springfield Gardens, were not named in the lawsuit and it was not clear as of press time if their fates would be decided by the court action.

Last year, a Manhattan State Supreme Court judge ruled in favor of the UFT in a similar lawsuit and halted the closure of Jamaica and Beach Channel high schools and the Business, Computer Applications & Entrepreneurship High at Campus Magnet High Schools.

City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott criticized the union for making the legal challenge, contending that the schools were given many chances to improve their graduation rates as well as school report cards and this was the only solution to help thousands of city students.

“Everyday that our students spend in a failing school does deeper and deeper damage to their prospects of succeeding in life. That is why we will do everything we can to defeat this lawsuit and fight for what is in the best interest of our children,” he said in a statement.

Some 70,000 teens already have been placed in high schools for the fall and the suit would hamper the process, Walcott warned.

Teachers at Jamaica HS have constantly complained that they have not been given new resources, such as Smart Boards and new computers, while the three other schools that share the 167-01 Gothic Drive space had the best materials.

Two institutions — the Hillside Arts & Letters Academy and the High School for Community Leadership — opened last fall despite the court ruling and the other school, Queens Collegiate High School has been in operation for several years.

In its new suit, the UFT is also seeking to block new schools from being put on the campuses of the schools selected for phase-out.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 at 10:17 pm and is filed under Breaking News, TimesLedger, Web Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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