WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — A District of Columbia judge said Wednesday in a ruling that he won’t halt the planned closure of 15 public schools.
Opponents of the school closure plan filed a lawsuit in March and asked U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg to halt the closures, which they said improperly discriminated against poor, minority and disabled students.
But in a 31-page opinion released Wednesday, Boasberg wrote that there “is no evidence whatsoever” officials intended to discriminate by closing the schools. He wrote that officials are “transferring children out of weaker, more segregated, and under-enrolled schools” into better schools.
Boasberg said he would not issue a preliminary injunction stopping the closures because the group has little chance of winning its lawsuit.
Boasberg’s ruling was not a complete surprise. During a hearing in the case last week, he cited data showing that the schools to which students are being transferred performed better on standardized tests and were less segregated.
In his opinion, Boasberg sided with lawyers for the city who argued that closing the schools will improve education for all students and that officials gave proper notice and responded to citizen concerns.
Officials said in announcing the closures in January that moving students to existing schools would save $19.5 million, $11 million of which would be reinvested in the schools that students move to. A total of 13 schools will close at the end of the current school year. Two more schools will close at the end of 2014.
Empower DC, the community group that had backed the lawsuit, and the public school system did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday. Empower DC did post on its Facebook page Wednesday after the judge’s ruling was issued. The post said that the case “is still alive and we will continue the fight.” The group said it would announce its next steps before the end of the week.
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