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Two Buffalo charter schools who faced closure will stay open another year

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Two charter schools in Buffalo, Westminster and Enterprise, faced being closed permanently effective June 30. But a judge has blocked the Buffalo Board of Education, which authorizes both schools, for doing so for at least the 2021-22 school year.

On March 31, the Buffalo Board of Education chose not to renew the charters for Westminster and Enterprise charter schools. This led to all parties meeting in state supreme court.

“It's our contention that the board acted illegally in making that decision," said Westminster board chair spokesperson Rita Eisenbeis. "Because they never held a public meeting within 30 days of our charter application being submitted to them.”

Eisenbeis who said the Buffalo BOE conducted “a lot of closed doors meeting” regarding both charters renewals.

“(State Supreme Court Justice) Mark A. Montour originally granted us a temporary restraining order and today (Friday) issued the preliminary injunction which means that our schools can have summer school this year and that they will remain open for at least the 2021-22 school year as we litigate this matter further,” she said.

Buffalo Public Schools General Counsel Nathaniel Kuzma released the following statement to WBFO:

“We intend to appeal today’s preliminary injunction ruling. In light of the fact that litigation is still pending, there will be no further comment at this time.”

Eisenbeis said Westminster and Enterprise were the only two charter schools up for renewal this year in New York State that were denied.

Westminster was originally approved five years ago.

“We are going to continue with our planning for the next school year,"Eisenbeis said. "(The ruling) also prohibited Buffalo Public Schools from contacting our parents, students and staff, to tell them that the school would not be open. As far as their appeal, I guess that will be up to our lawyers. But we feel we have a very strong case.”

Eisenbeis added she thinks its irresponsible to close a school coming out of the pandemic.

"I just think it's unconscionable just the board made the decision that they did," she said. "They always say that they're putting children first. Well, I disagree with that (given) the decision that they made."

Both Westminster and Enterprise have over 400 students each.

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.
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