NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — An arbitrator has ruled that New York City can’t close 24 schools that officials say are failing, and the city has vowed to appeal.

The arbitrator issued the ruling Friday and ordered the city to offer staffers at the schools the chance to stay in place. A total of 3,671 teachers, administrators and school aides had been told their jobs were being terminated.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the city will appeal the ruling in state supreme court.

“Today’s decision is an injustice to our children that – if allowed to stand – will hurt thousands of students and compromise their futures,” Bloomberg said in a statement.

The mayor argued the decision, saying “all New York City public school students deserve the highest quality education and these 24 schools were failing to provide it.”

The United Federation of Teachers had argued that education officials were pretending to shutter the schools without actually changing anything significant in a bid to illegally get rid of staff.

“What the ruling today said was what the mayor was doing was trying to use a backdoor gimmick to try to close these schools and he was wrong and that what the ruling by the arbitrator said today,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew told 1010 WINS.

It was the third UFT lawsuit in as many years on school closures, all brought over different issues.

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