THE BRONX - ? The Panel for Educational Policy voted Tuesday night to close four schools following a lengthy public debate.

Although parents and students vigorously protested the decision, a published report says the panel voted in favor of the move anyway. The Department of Education says the schools consistently performed poorly on progress reports and will be phased out.

City Councilman Charles Baron blasted the panel?s decision.

?If this system can hire Cathie Black, who?s not even qualified to teach in the classroom, then we should not allow them to shut our schools down,? Baron told a crowd of protesters.

The four schools voted on are the School for Community Research and Learning, the Urban Academy for History and Citizenship, the New Day Academy and schools on the James Monroe Educational Campus. Seven other Bronx schools will face a vote on Thursday.