Several weeks ago, 24 city schools, including Sheepshead Bay High School, were set to be closed. Thousands of teachers were to be fired and left without work as new principals and faculty were brought in and the school renamed. The action would have brought millions of federal dollars into the system.
The arbitrator determined that the plan to dismiss 50 percent or more of the teachers at each turnaround school was in violation of the city’s collective bargaining agreement with the teacher’s union.
The decision stops the city from moving forward with its plan, and also disqualifies the city from receiving more than $40 million in federal funds for the overhaul process.
GothamSchools.org has a thorough report about the arbitrator’s decision, in which the arbitrator claims the city used “circular reasoning” to justify the turnaround, using the mayor’s own words to reveal the problem with the plan.
A court appeal regarding the Bloomberg Administration’s proposal and court ruling to close 24 New York struggling schools will take place today.
The arbitrator, Scott E. Buchheit, told the New York Times several weeks ago that teachers of the 24 schools cannot simply be fired as the city intended. Instead, they must have the opportunity to continue to work at the schools in which they are currently employed.
Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott feels that regardless of the decision made, this delay will harm the schools and their students.
“Unfortunately this ruling pushes these schools back and most importantly will hurt our students in the long run,” Walcott said in an interview on WOR Radio on Monday, according to the New York Times.
Two schools in the Sheepshead Bay area were scheduled to close under the previous court ruling: Sheepshead Bay High School and John Dewey High School. John Dewey High would reopen in this upcoming fall as Shorefront High School, while Sheepshead Bay High School would be renamed the Academy of Career Exploration of Sheepshead Bay. It’s unclear if the name changes will still take effect if the decision is reversed.
Robin Kovat, a social studies teacher at Sheepshead Bay High School, said that the procedure of reapplying to work at her school was stressful at the end of the school year, when she was still helping her students finish their coursework.
The New York Times said that if the decision to close the schools is overturned in the appeal, teachers who weren’t picked by personnel committees would be given permission to return assume their old jobs. This leaves many of them “in limbo.”