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Judge Sides With Union At School Closures Hearing

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TWC News: Judge Sides With Union At School Closures Hearing
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In a ruling handed down Tuesday afternoon, a judge sided with the teachers' union, stating that the closures violated union contracts. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

The normally slow wheels of justice moved unusually quickly Tuesday when a State Supreme Court judge ruled from the bench.

Judge Joan Lobis acknowledged there was no time to delay, with 3,000 teachers' jobs hanging in the balance and the first day of school just weeks away.

Her ruling tipped the balance in the teachers' favor, upholding an earlier decision allowing the educators to return to their classrooms.

The issue at hand is the mayor's plan to try and fix two dozen struggling schools by removing many of those teachers, a plan that an arbitrator said violated the teachers' contract last month.

“All of a sudden, some arbitrator didn’t care about the kids and came up with a different conclusion so now we’re in court,” Bloomberg said last Tuesday.

Now that the results are not in the city's favor, the city immediately released a statement saying it would appeal.

The unions said they're ready to move on.

“They've now lost at the arbitration level. They've lost at the Supreme Court. We would like to get to the business of staffing these schools and be ready for the opening of school in September,” said Adam Ross, the legal counsel for the United Federation of Teachers.

But Mayor Michael Bloomberg has consistently and passionately said he won't give up.

“We will do everything," he said last Tuesday. "As God as my witness, I will not walk away from those kids. I don’t know what we can do. We’ll have to find out whether we can do anything and when we can do it if we can. But we’re not going let bureaucracy get in the way."

Each school would qualify for millions of dollars in federal funds if at least half of the teachers are replaced. But the city has acknowledged the pink slips the teachers got in June are no longer valid.

It remains to be seen how many of the 3,000 teachers will decide to return to schools that tried to let them go.

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