Suit Seeks to Save 19 City Schools

Monday, February 01, 2010

The NAACP and the teachers union have filed a lawsuit claiming the city violated state laws with last week's vote to close 19 low-performing schools.

The suit claims the city failed to analyze how the closings would affect communities. The United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew says the city didn't follow state laws requiring environmental impact statements describing the effect of each closure.

"The impact statement has to be about the individual schools. They boilerplated almost all of their language and, on the response to public comment, they boilerplated that," Mulgrew says.

Hazel Dukes, President of the New York State Conference of the NAACP, says it was a difficult decision to sue the city.

"We're here because parents have made complaints, we have the complaints filed, about their children not receiving their rights in the school system here," Dukes says.

The suit was joined by the Manhattan borough president, four state lawmakers, and five City Council members. They say the city should have done more to help the schools before closing them.

Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott says he can't respond to the specific allegations because he hasn't seen the lawsuit. But he says the city followed the letter of the law and that the small new schools that will replace those to be phased out, will do a better job of serving students.

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