Brevard judge denies injunction to halt closure of three schools
By Chris Fish
BREVARD -- Following the denial of an injunction to stop the closing of three local schools, members of the community are trying their best to move on.
"Parent groups fully intend to stay engaged over the next year," said Michelle Speisman, founder of Save Brevard Public Schools. "We will strive to keep other community members informed about policies and actions of the current (school) board), as well as provide information on alternative candidates and issues impacting education in Brevard."
On Friday, May 31, Circuit Judge George Maxwell denied a request for a preliminary injunction to block the closing of Clearlake Middle in Cocoa, Gardendale Elementary on Merritt Island and South Lake Elementary in Titusville.
The lawsuit, filed by Orlando attorney Shayan Elahi, who represents families of South Lake students, claimed the school district targeted minorities in the school closings.
At the proceeding, Judge Maxwell said the plaintiff did not meet the criterion needed for the injunction.
Despite the failed injunction, Mr. Elahi said his clients will continue with the lawsuit.
On Tuesday, April 16, Judge Maxwell also denied a legal effort by the Brevard County Board of County Commissioners and Titusville City Council to stop the closures.
"We are pleased with the decision and are moving forward with the transition for our students," said Michelle Irwin, public information officer for Brevard County Public Schools.
However, Ms. Speisman said the transition for students and staff, especially at Gardendale, has been a difficult one.
"The last few weeks at Gardendale have been bittersweet," she said. "The district has begun moving items from the schools while students are still there and has moved up the deadline for teachers and staff to remove belongings from June 20 to June 10. That gives them only one weekend to pack up their classrooms and offices. Many of the teachers have been in the same classroom for over a decade."
The district said the closing of the three local schools is in an attempt to save $3 million in a local budget deficit of more than $30 million. In November, a voter referendum to save the schools failed.
Ms. Speisman said she is not pleased with Judge Maxwell's decision, and her parent's group will continue the fight of appointing board members, who they say have the community's best interests in mind.
"The decision by Judge Maxwell in the two lawsuits was disappointing," Ms. Speisman said. "Citizens need a viable means of recourse for School Board actions. Three School Board seats are up next summer and the upcoming election will be a primary focus (for us)."