Judge Rules Teacher Tenure Lawsuits Can Proceed in New York

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A judge has ruled to allow two lawsuits concerning New York State teacher tenure to move forward.

Judge Philip Minardo of Staten Island state Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs, who include a number of public school children, should be allowed to argue their case as students “who have been deprived of their right to a sound, basic education.”

“We are pleased that Judge Minardo has given parents an opportunity to improve the education of our children,” said plaintiff Sam Pirozzolo, vice president of the New York City Parents Union.  “With this trial, parents intend to prove that the current framework of bad laws, many children — especially low income and minority children from our poorest communities — are denied their right to a sound, basic education.”

Judge Minardo went on to say the court “will not close the courthouse door to parents and children with viable constitutional claims” as had been done in other cases in the state.

According to the plaintiffs of the Davids vs. New York case, teacher tenure and layoffs according to seniority have the effect of lessening the sound, basic education that students are guaranteed under the state constitution.

Currently in the state junior teachers are laid off first during financially difficult times.

Campbell Brown, the former CNN anchor and founder of Partnership for Educational Justice, helped to file the lawsuit, calling the ruling a “major victory,” and referring to the plaintiffs as “courageous” as they fight for public education.

“We know that quality teaching is the most important factor influencing student achievement,” Brown said in a statement, “and this case will seek to prove that New York’s antiquated education policies have robbed students across the state of the opportunity to succeed in the classroom.”

The defendants of the case, including the United Federation of Teachers, the state Education Department and the city Department of Education, said that they plan on appealing the decision.  They had previously filed to dismiss the case late last fall.

In a statement, NYSUT said the judge had received inaccurate and out-of-date information pertaining to teacher tenure in the state, wrote Brittany Horn for The Times Union.

“Tenure is an essential safeguard that ensures good teachers can advocate for what their students need, and to work as professionals without fear of unfair firing – a basic due process right,” NYSUT said.

The New York lawsuit came into being after a California judge ruled down the teacher tenure laws in the state earlier this year.  California Governor Jerry Brown is currently appealing the decision.