THE BLOG
05/28/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Judge tells Bloomberg "Not So Fast"

Even billionaire mayors sometimes have to obey the law. New York City Mayor Michael "Moneybags" Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel "King" Klein are fuming.

Justice Joan B. Lobis of the State Supreme Court in Manhattan blocked the closing of 19 New York City schools charged with poor performance. The judge ruled that city officials engaged in "significant violations" of the state law governing mayoral control of city schools. Unless the ruling is overturned, Bloomberg and Klein will have to start the review process over again during the next academic year and ensure "meaningful community involvement." According to the judge, a rump review board that sits silently while parents, teachers, students, and community residents present the facts of the case, that ignores their input, and then rules with Moneybags and the King, does not satisfy due process.

State law requires that the Department of Education give detailed "educational-impact statements" describing the effect of each closing on students and surrounding schools. Justice Lobis found that the DOE issued boilerplate statements that did not provide detailed analysis. She also cited procedural violations, including insufficient public notification before hearings.

Schools Chancellor "King" Klein protested the ruling and blamed the teachers union for the lawsuit. However he could not explain how closing these schools would actually benefit students. He argued that the city had included the public sufficiently in the process. "We heard them, and in the end, we disagreed."

Pending appeal, Bloomberg and Klein are trying to circumvent the court order. They have authorized that notices be distributed to students assigning them to high schools for September, but not these schools.

The high schools affected by the ruling include Jamaica High School and Beach Channel High School in Queens; Christopher Columbus High School and Global Enterprise High School in the Bronx; Paul Robeson High School in Brooklyn; and the Choir Academy of Harlem and Norman Thomas High School in Manhattan.

Unfortunately, the students at University Height High School on the Bronx Community College Campus, which is being moved rather than closed, are not affected by this decision. They are continuing their own legal moves, charging that BCC and the Department of Education are violating an implicit contract they have with the students and their families.

According to the DOE high school directory (http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/High/Directory/school/?sid=3123), the purpose of University Heights Secondary School at Bronx Community College "is to create a powerful learning community which includes intellectual and personal fulfillment. We value diversity in who we are and what we do. We work collaboratively with our host, Bronx Community College." Students chose to attend this school specifically because of this relationship.

You can see University Heights High School students state their case online at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbUVQK6pf2A.