Here is the Daily News story on these decisions; here are previous blog posts about the lawsuits, which were based primarily on the fact that the Educational Impact Statements required by state law omitted critical information, such as whether the existing schools would have the space to lower class size in the future to the levels mandated by state law.
Moreover, the EIS's never mentioned the loss of other critical space and services that these students would suffer, such as the loss of their science lab by Waterside students, and the loss of the GED program and LYFE day care center by the students who are young parents at West Side HS, not to mention in both cases the space to lower class size.
The Judge's decision was quite narrow -- simply that the plaintiffs should have gone to the Commissioner first with their complaints, even though this was a matter of statutory interpretation that could be seen as subject to the court's jurisdiction. In fact, there was a precedent for this: in a previous decision by Judge Lobis in 2010, she had thrown out several DOE decisions to close schools on the basis of inadequate Educational Impact Statements -- including their failure to mention how students would lose their LYFE day care center:
The EISs completely failed to provide information about specific programs existing at the schools proposed to be closed or phased out, or where the students would be able to find such programs. For example, where the school had a Living For The Young Family Through Education (L YFE) Center, no mention was made of that program, or where a similar program existed in other city schools.
Meanwhile, the powerful and wealthy networks that will benefit from his decisions, Success Academy and The Young Women's Leadership School, are the beneficiaries of millions of dollars contributed by billionaires, and could have easily afforded to lease their own buildings without any help from DOE and without depriving NYC public school students of these critical resources and space.
TYWLS, founded by Ann Tisch of the billionaire Tisch family, recently received a $7 million grant from Mackenzie Scott. Success Academy's wealth is well-known, having received $100 million from Bloomberg and many more millions from hedge funders and the federal government.
The students at Waterside are suffering a double whammy - not just losing their space but their principal as well, who has been offered another job by DOE. The parents at Waterside hadn't even been informed of her departure when I told the PTA president about this on Friday. She confirmed the information in the article that only a small fraction of the middle school applicants had been accepted for the upcoming year. As the former PTA president said to the reporter, “I honestly feel like our district wants to get rid of Waterside Middle School but doesn’t want to directly tell us.”
This suggests that DOE may plan to shrink the school into nothingness so as to be able to give over the entire building to Success Academy.