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NYC Parent Files Federal Discrimination Complaint Against City's School Closure Policy

The parent says the policy destabilizes remaining schools and discriminates against minority and special education students

A New York City parent has filed a federal claim with the U.S. Department of Education against the city’s recent decision to close 26 low-performing schools, arguing it discriminates against minority and special education students, reported The Wall Street Journal.

The parent, Zakiyah Ansari, says the schools chosen for closure generally have higher proportions of minority, impoverished and special-education students than others and that the policy destabilizes the remaining schools, overall hurting more than helping public school students.

"It's been a domino, ripple effect across the city," said Ms. Ansari, who represents New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, a coalition of groups who oppose most of Bloomberg's education policies.

The complaint is one of dozens filed recently by opponents of school closures, a policy the Obama administration has supported as a way to try to fix schools with poor academic records.

Bloomberg officials also have long defended the policy, citing a study that shows consistently low-performing schools that are phased out, made smaller, turned into charter schools or refreshed with a new administration perform better and have higher graduation rates for similar populations.

"Where we've replaced failing schools with new ones, we're graduating students at rates roughly 20 points higher while serving similar student populations. Our strategy is working,” said Deputy Chancellor of NYC Schools Marc Sternberg. "Ten years ago, on dozens of campuses across this city, no one could have imagined the kind of success our students are now having."

It is unclear how far the complaint will go. The U.S. DOE Office for Civil Rights so far has opened 35 similar cases but has substantiated none of them.

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