File photo/QNS
Middle Village Preparatory Charter School on the Christ the King High School campus.

The Middle Village Preparatory Charter School (MVP) will be allowed to enroll new students for the 2018-19 school year after another small victory in February in its ongoing legal battle with the Diocese of Brooklyn.

In a Feb. 14 ruling, the Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division denied a motion put forth by the Diocese that would have prevented Middle Village Prep from bringing in a new class this coming fall.

The motion was the latest effort to stop the charter school from operating during the pending lawsuit filed by the Diocese against Christ the King High School (CTK), which houses the charter school on its campus.

Josephine C. Lume, chairperson for the board of trustees at MVP, wrote a letter to the parents and members of the school community to thank them for their continued support.

“Your support and activism throughout this ordeal with the Diocese have been invaluable – whether attending rallies or making your voices heard in other ways,” Lume said in the letter. “We have accomplished great things together for your children and our community, including mitigating the massive overcrowding in our local public schools.”

The 2017 lawsuit claims that CTK’s trustees violated the terms of a 1976 agreement that supposedly mandates that the Middle Village campus be strictly used for Christ the King High School functions. The Diocese contends that the CTK trustees never asked for permission to open MVP on its grounds in 2013, and it views the school as potential competition to several Catholic middle schools in the area.

Since its founding, MVP has grown into one of the top-performing middle schools in New York state. At the time the lawsuit was filed, there were 380 students from sixth to eighth grade currently enrolled and 250 more families on a waiting list for the upcoming school year.

The success of the school sparked outrage over the lawsuit from the parents of MVP students, who immediately organized to figure out how they could help keep the school open. They spent the summer of 2017 forming rallies at the Queens County Court and the office of the Diocese with the students, and their activism has led to many more small victories along the way.

In a letter to the Christ the King High School community, Board of Trustees Chair Serphin R. Maltese said that while the latest court decision marks more progress, there is still plenty of work to be done.

“While the news is good, it’s just an interim step, unfortunately,” Maltese said in the letter. “The Diocese remains dug in on the matter and has so far declined our offers to sit together with us and focus on all the good things we are accomplishing and on how much more we can do together. We are still ready to join in that spirit of reconciliation that will allow everyone to succeed.”

In a statement sent to QNS on March 7, a spokesperson from the Diocese of Brooklyn said that the organization is remaining steadfast despite the court’s rulings.

“Unfortunately, the Appellate Division is unwilling to expedite the hearing of the appeal and, therefore, the charter school’s future operation at the high school premises remains uncertain,” the spokesperson said. “As the Diocese has stated before, it remains open and willing to resolve this dispute amicably.  We urge Christ the King to agree to the same terms as every other regional high school within the Diocese.”


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