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Queens Chronicle

Christ the King High School sued

Diocese of Bklyn says CTK misused grounds; a countersuit is planned

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Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:34 am, Thu Nov 14, 2013.

The Diocese of Brooklyn has filed a lawsuit against Christ the King Regional High School in Middle Village, alleging the school has repeatedly violated agreements between the two entities.

The school’s Board of Trustees will meet with a law firm Thursday to develop a countersuit against the diocese.

In a Monday press release, the diocese alleges that the school has refused “to honor a long-standing covenant to reconvey the property and for conducting various enterprises on the property without consultation.”

They claim that Christ the King is the only one of the six diocese-owned Catholic high schools that has not reaffirmed the right of the diocese to regain the property should the school ever close.

It also alleges that the school has refused to give 40 percent of its revenue from renting space to the Middle Village Preparatory Charter School to the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Trust, something that the other five schools have agreed upon.

The other schools owned by the diocese include St. Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows and St. John’s Prep in Astoria and Bishop Ford, Bishop Kearney and Nazareth in Brooklyn.

Christ the King’s Board of Trustees released its own statement on Monday, defending the school’s action, stating that CTK has, in fact, complied with the diocese’s reconveyance demand.

“This board has met this obligation by operating the school independently in an exemplary manner since 1976,” the statement read. “This has been done for the entire 37 years without the school ever requesting or being offered any financial assistance from the diocese.”

Board Vice Chairman Thomas Ognibene elaborated on Christ the King’s position, stating that the lawsuit is frivolous and only came when the diocese realized the potential money to be made from having a Catholic charter school instead of a nonsectarian school at the location.

“We want them to let us operate the way they have let us operate for 37 years before they saw dollar signs with these charter schools,” Ognibene said. “We’re the ones that are trying to promote and keep Catholic values alive.”

Ognibene, a former city councilman who represented the 30th District from 1992 to 2001, sees the diocese’s suit against the school as just another example of the slippery slope the diocese is sliding down.

“Ever since charters became viable, the diocese sees a lot of money in them,” he said. “They really want the schools back. That’s our firm belief because they’re selling off their grammar schools and the high schools are next.”

Marty McLaughlin of Connelly, McLaughlin & Woloz, the public affairs firm representing the diocese, alleges that Christ the King has wrongly taken things into its own hands.

“Over the years, Christ the King has refused to re-up on the conveyance saying it doesn’t apply to them anymore,” McLaughlin said. “They agreed to do nothing and after two years of negotiations, we’ve decided to sue them to get them to comply.”

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