The Thomas J. Pappas schools for the homeless will close at the end of the school year, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled Thursday.
Judge John Buttrick approved the proposed settlement among the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, the County Treasurer and the receiver board that has been overseeing the Pappas schools.
He denied Maricopa County Superintendent of Schools Sandra Dowling’s motions to bring the issue to trial.
“The Court finds the parties’ settlement to have been made in good faith and finds no reason to force the parties to try a case where they have reached complete agreement,” the judge wrote.
However, the fight is not over, said Diane Fernichio, site administrator for the Tempe Pappas school.
“We’re going to continue to fight,” Fernichio said. “We truly believe in what we’re doing.”
Dowling’s lawyer, David Cantelme, said he will file an appeal as soon as he can get it drafted.
The settlement the judge approved keeps the schools open until the end of the school year, providing enough money to pay teachers.
The settlement also includes priority hiring for Pappas employees for county positions they qualify for.
Plans are also in the works for job fairs at neighboring schools.
Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Fulton Brock, R-District 1, said the board is “very upbeat” about Buttrick’s ruling.
“In our minds, this case is closed,” Brock said. “We think it’s a win-win because it allows a soft landing transition for the students and parents and all those involved in Pappas.”
Pappas students will be sent to area school districts. The Tempe campus has 182 students, Fernichio said.
Area school districts have staff and services available to help homeless students. However, Fernichio said it’s not enough.
“I don’t want them to have to go to different schools. I don’t think they will do as well,” Fernichio said. “It’s sad that politics has to get in the way with what we’re trying to do.”