By Angelica Acevedo
About 100 students, parents and administrators from Middle Village Preparatory Charter School chanted “Drop the lawsuit,” and “Keep our school open,” as they rallied Tuesday outside of the Queens County Court.
Christ the King, a Catholic high school that leases a space to the independent charter school, is in the midst of fighting a lawsuit from the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens. The lawsuit threatens to shut down Middle Village Prep unless CTK complies with the diocese.
At the hearing, both parties presented their arguments to the judge, who hoped the two could work this out themselves, but is expected to deliver a decision soon.
Middle Village Prep remains open due to a restraining order that prevents the school from being evicted until the final ruling. The school, which serves about 380 sixth- to eighth-graders and has a waiting list of 250 additional kids, has received support from Community Education Council 24 President Nick Comaianni and other community leaders.
For years now, CTK and the diocese have gone to court over alleged violations of agreements between the two entities. The diocese contends one of the violations is that CTK was not allowed to open the charter school in 2013 due to an agreement they signed in 1976.
At issue are rules that prevent charter schools from siphoning off students from neighboring parochial schools.
In an email to the TimesLedger, Carolyn Erstad, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Brooklyn, said it is willing to work with CTK and Middle Village Prep.
“The Diocese of Brooklyn wants MVP to remain open and the students to thrive,” she said. “The judge today encouraged CTK and the diocese to work out this dispute. We want to do that and are extending an invitation to the CTK board members to sit down and talk.”
The Middle Village Prep board of trustees did not reply to a request for comment in time for publication.