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After school closure ruling, no news yet for anxious 8th graders

Today’s State Supreme Court decision in the lawsuit over 19 school closures appears to be good news for most of the 66,000 eighth graders who have been waiting for months to find out where they’ll go to high school.

But for the 8,500 students who applied to one of the 14 high schools the city tried to close this year, there’s little guidance in the 14-page ruling.

The ruling adds even more confusion to an already complicated high school matching process. It doesn’t explicitly tell the city to release high school placement letters, originally set to go home Wednesday, to students who didn’t apply to any of the schools whose closures were contested. But it also says that the court doesn’t intend to prevent most eighth-graders from finding out their placements.

“The court wishes to make clear, however, that this decision is not intended to prevent completion of the matching process for any students who are not directly affected by the proposed closure or phaseout of the 19 schools, and such actions shall not be construed as a violation of this decision and order,” the decision reads.

That’s good news for most eighth-graders, and Chancellor Klein is sending a letter home today explaining that match letters will be mailed home “as soon as possible.” But the ruling doesn’t tell the city what to do for the 8,500 students who tried to pick one of the schools that were later slated for closure. Department officials say they won’t know what will happen with those students’ letters until they finish reviewing the court decision, according to spokesman Daniel Kanner. The delay is especially likely to frustrate students who included one of the closing schools among their 12 choices but who actually preferred to be matched at another school.

Here’s the letter Klein is sending home with eighth-graders today:

March 26, 2010
Dear Parent/Guardian,

A decision has just been reached in the lawsuit brought by the UFT and others that has had an impact on the high school admissions process. As soon as possible, the Office of Student Enrollment will mail your child’s high school admissions letter to the home address listed on his or her high school application.

We know how difficult this delay has been for you and for your family, and we thank you for your patience. In the meantime, please continue to check the Department of Education’s Web site at www.nyc.gov/schools, or call 311, for updated information.

Sincerely,
Joel I. Klein
Chancellor

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