July 2, 2010 -- New York City did not follow state law when it moved to close 19 underperforming public schools, an appeals court ruled Thursday.
The Appellate Division agreed with State Supreme Court Judge Joan Lobis' March 26 ruling that education officials failed to comply with a state law requiring public participation in decisions to close schools. Under the law, the city was also required to file an impact statement for each school detailing how the school's closing would affect the community.
The judge rejected the city's argument that it followed the letter of the law.
The appeals court agreed with the lower court that the city's impact statement for the 19 schools were nothing but "boilerplate."
A city education panel controlled by Mayor Michael Bloomberg voted on Jan. 26 to close the schools because of poor performance.
The teachers union and the NAACP filed a lawsuit to block the closings.
Bloomberg said Thursday's ruling means that "there's a whole bunch of kids that at least for one year will get a terrible education that they'll probably never recover from."
But, he added, "We will comply with the judge's decision."
Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said the ruling "will force us to keep open schools that are failing our children."
"Nevertheless, the court has ruled that we didn't meet the requirements of the new law, and we will follow the court's decision and make sure that we meet those requirements in the future," Klein said.
United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said the ruling proves that no one is above the law.
"Every court that has looked at this issue has ruled decisively that the Department of Education violated the law when it tried to close these schools," Mulgrew said.
●●smf's 2¢: Public participation in decisions to close/reconstitute/give away schools. A community impact statement for school detailing how that school's closing/reconstitution/give-away would affect the community.
Democracy: what an interesting concept.