Judge grants Middle Village charter school protection from being shutting down amid legal battle

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Students and parents at Middle Village Preparatory charter school (MVP) received a glimmer of good news late Thursday afternoon as a judge granted the school a temporary restraining order, preventing the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens from making any possible effort to close down the school.

After officially filing for an appeal of a Queens Supreme Court judge’s decision earlier this week in the case between Christ the King High School’s (CTK) board of directors and the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens over the fate of MVP, counsel for MVP, CTK and Christ the King Continuing Education (CTKCE) all filed their respective motions to the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, 2nd Division (Brooklyn) for a temporary restraining order preventing the diocese from taking any action to try to enforce the Supreme Court’s decision.

A representative from MVP said an Appellate Division justice granted their requests.

“Appellate Division Justice Sylvia O. Hinds-Radix granted the temporary restraining orders requested by all three parties,” Robert Bellafiore said.

This order of protection prevents the diocese from taking any immediate action to interrupt the day-to-day operations at MVP — a fear held by parents, students and staff since a judge ruled in favor of the diocese’s claims that when CTK opened the charter school in 2013 it violated the terms of a 40-year-old agreement between the two entities.

Now, the diocese has until Sept. 28 to file its own opposition to MVP’s appeal. After the court receives the opposition papers, it will come to a decision on the case on the papers alone. There will be no further oral arguments made in the case.

How long it will take the court to decide on this issue is unknown.

“There is no timetable for how long it will take the court to render its decision on our appeals,” Bellafiore added.

In the meantime, MVP will operate as normal, as MVP’s board chair Josephine Lume said in her Monday letter to parents.

“We will continue to do everything we can to prevent any disruption in this school year, as well as take steps to ensure MVP will be able to operate for years to come,” Lume’s letter read.

Despite the legal dispute, the diocese holds firm on their hopes that they can work this ordeal out with the CTK board to keep MVP open, and follow the terms of the agreement made during the 1970s.

“The Diocese of Brooklyn remains open to working this out,” said Carolyn Erstad, spokesperson for the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens. “We want to reach a settlement that makes everyone happy. We hope that Christ the King will abide by the same terms as every other regional high school in the Diocese — terms that allow subleasing to charter schools.”

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