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Community Charter School loses court fight to stay open

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The COMMUNITY Charter School in Buffalo has lost its court battle to stay open. State Supreme Court Justice John A. Michalek on Thursday ruled in favor of a New York State  Education Department's (NYSED) motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the school.

COMMUNITY Charter is now slated to close at the end of the school year in June. 

"It's absolutely devastating. Parents came in today melancholy, crying, wondering where their child is going to go for next year," said school leader Denise Luka. 

Parents were notified by robocall. The school is working to assist its more than 300 students to enroll into new schools. 

Last year, the Education Department and New York State Board of Regents said it would not renew the school's charter due to a drop in academic performance and poor test scores. 

In June 2013, Judge Michalek granted COMMUNITY a preliminary injunction preventing the school from closure.  

The State Education Department Charter School Office issued a report saying past performance at Community Charter on the state ELA and Math tests were among the lowest in the state and the city.

Luka joined COMMUNITY Charter just in the fall of 2012. She has had the difficult task of trying to improve a big drop in student performance. Luka had been working on a turnaround plan since she arrived.

“We are disappointed with today’s decision and we remain committed to supporting COMMUNITY and its families in any way we can,” said the school’s lawyer, Lisa A. Coppola, a partner with Rupp, Baase, Pfalzgraf, Cunningham & Coppola LLC. 

COMMUNITY Charter serves students in the city's Kensington neighborhood of Buffalo. 

"It's the end. We fought a very, very hard battle," said Luka. "I took all of those findings and we addressed every single issue and the state never came near us."

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