A federal appeals panel signaled that it was leaning toward reversing a judge's decision that opened up New York City public schools to after-hours worship services.

A panel questioned both sides as the case came before it for a fifth time Monday. Two of three judges who ruled before not to allow churches to rent public space seemed likely to do it again.

The Bronx Household of Faith has been at the center of the debate for nearly 18 years. The Department of Education (DOE) argues that a church's presence in schools blurs the line between church and state.