June 30, 2011
A judge today opened the door for construction to start at Brandeis Educational Complex in preparation for a charter school to move into the building.
The hearing was a part of the lawsuit filed by Brandeis parents to stop Upper West Success Academy from opening in the Brandeis campus, which is currently home to five high schools.
The city has said that it needs four weeks to prepare the building for Upper West Success, which would be the only elementary school in the building. Since teachers are set to begin work on August 2 and classes start August 24, construction on an elementary-only cafeteria and multipurpose room would need to begin immediately.
Judge Paul Feinman chose not to extend the temporary restraining order against those plans, saying that it made sense to allow some construction to begin in case the co-location was given a green light.
“I don’t see what harm there is to allow construction on the first floor to move forward,” he said.
Judge Feinman’s decision is complicated by the other lawsuit he is considering, filed by the UFT and NAACP, that aims to stop 16 charter schools from co-locating in district school buildings. Brandeis is included in that lawsuit.
Because of the other case, lawyers said it was still unclear how much construction would be legal tomorrow at 10 a.m. when the Brandeis restraining order expires.
“We’re speaking with the other counsel and resolving that right now,” said Emily Kim, who is representing Success Academy Charter Network.
During the hearing, Judge Feinman made it clear that this decision “should not be misrepresented” as an indication that the charter schools would prevail in the larger co-location lawsuit. “It is hardly such a statement,” he said.
Feinman also indicated that a final decision in the case might be at least three weeks away, saying he was concerned that the case wouldn’t be wrapped up before his vacation, which is scheduled to start July 22.