Charter school fight goes to federal court

HOUSTON The state ordered the school closed because it is nearly bankrupt, but some parents have taken their fight to keep it open to federal court.

According to the Texas Education Agency, 500 students had enrolled in the school this year, but we've only seen a fraction of that amount. Some of those students went to court this morning to fight for their school.

Supporters of Benji's Special Education Academy left federal court without the answer they were hoping for. They won't know if their beloved school will be reopened by the state, the judge in the case saying he'll rule at a later date. Parents, teachers and students came together by bus to show their support for Benji's.

"These kids are trying at this school. Help the school build up and be where it needs to be instead of trying to kick them to the curb saying the need to go somewhere else," said parent Jeanette Young.

That somewhere else is part of the problem. Lawyers for the parents say the state closed the school too rapidly, denying the disabled students the ability to find a suitable taxpayer supported school elsewhere.

"It's not really legal is the way in which they tried to close this school down that was not really legal at all," said Berry Bowen, the parents' attorney.

The attorney for the parents of disabled Benji's students question how the state closed Benji's two weeks ago. The state says it had no choice, alleging Benji's did not provide proper financial records to account for over $3 million in state funding for the past year.

So as of this month, the state is no longer funding Benji's. An expected check this month of $248,000 was not sent by the state. Meaning teachers like Janis Jackson are not getting paid.

"Our first priority is the children. We're not getting paid, but still these kids come first," said Jackson.

The federal judge in this case told the court he is going to check with his colleagues, so the court stands in recess until the judge decides to rule in this case. One of the rulings he's going to make is whether or not this case even belongs in federal court.

The judge is expected to make a ruling either tomorrow or sometime early next week.

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