Judge asked to rule on 'gross inequality'

At a rally before the June 21 court hearing on the lawsuit filed by the UFT and Cara MetzAt a rally before the June 21 court hearing on the lawsuit filed by the UFT and other plaintiffs on closing schools and inequitable co-locations, community activist William Hargraves asked, “Why is the DOE elbowing its way into schools in all boroughs of this city?” Scores of parents spoke out on behalf of the lawsuit filed by the UFT, the NAACP and other plaintiffs against closing schools and co-locating charters at a rally outside a Manhattan courthouse on June 21. The rally came minutes before a state judge agreed to extend an order in the case 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 whether to grant the plaintiffs' request for an injunction in the case.

Demanding educational equality for all children, the rally participants said the Department of Education should give schools the support they need rather than close them down; they also called for equal treatment of charter and district students in co-located schools.

“Why should other children gain from what my children lose?” said Miriam Holmes, whose three children attend PS 149 in Harlem, which is co-located with a Harlem Success Charter School.

”The DOE acted like we weren’t there,” said PS 149 PTA President Sonya Hampton. “Where could we go? We called the NAACP.”

After hearing arguments by lawyers for the plaintiffs, the Department of Education and the charter schools, State Supreme Court Justice Paul Feinman extended the temporary order until he decides on the injunction.

“The court has got a final decision before it,” said Charles Moerdler of Stroock and Stroock and Lavan, the plaintiffs’ counsel. “The DOE has been doing stuff illegally for months. If we prevail, these schools will not be closed.”

Moerdler told Justice Feinman that no matter what the DOE’s co-location plan documents said, the reality is that district students have had to give up space to service students of charter schools.

“This is no way to set an example for schoolchildren,” he said. “This is no way to run a school system. There is gross inequality here. ”

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