Judge rules against Reach Academy

Listen
 (file/NewsWorks)

(file/NewsWorks)

A federal judge refused to issue a legal injunction on behalf of Reach Academy for Girls, meaning the state can continue with plans to close the embattled Delaware charter school.

 

The decision comes one year after judge Leonard P. Stark granted the school a one-year legal reprieve. This time, however, Stark said the plaintiffs hadn’t made a strong enough argument to merit judicial intervention.

“The issue before me is not whether Reach should remain open,” Stark wrote in his opinion. “Instead, what I must decide is whether the Plaintiffs have come forward, in the very first weeks of their lawsuit, with sufficient evidence to show that they are likely to succeed on the merits of an of the legal claims alleged in their complaint.”

Stark’s decision, however, will likely result in the closure of the Delaware-based charter school, which serves 468 girls in kindergarten through 8th grade.

In his prior decision, Stark emphasized that closing Reach would likely violate the Equal Protection Clause and Title IX because it would mean Delaware would have an all-boys charter school but no all-girls alternative. At the time, Delaware had a statute that precluded the state from opening another all-girls charter to replace Reach.

That rule has since changed, which Stark made note of in his 12-page opinion. Delaware is now allowed to have two single-sex charter schools, one of each gender.

“The factual and legal content in which the current cases arises, then, is strikingly different from that which was presented last year,” Stark wrote.

The Reach decision marks a second legal victory for the state in less than a week.

On Friday, the New Castle County Court of Chancery ruled that the Delaware Department of Education could shutter another charter school that had attempted to defy the state’s closure order. The Maurice J. Moyer Academic Institute was joined by the City of Wilmington in its lawsuit, but could not convince the presiding judge that its students had a constitutionally protected right to graduate from the school.

The state offered a similar reaction to the Reach decision as it did the Moyer one. “We will continue to work with students and their families as they transition to new schools next year,” said Alison May, spokeswoman for the Delaware Department of Education.

Check back here throughout the day for updates and reaction.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.