Recruitment & Retention

N.Y.C. Union Will Join Tenure Lawsuit as Defendant

By Stephen Sawchuk — July 22, 2014 1 min read

The United Federation of Teachers plans to intervene as a defendant in a pending suit attacking teacher tenure and dismissal in New York, the union announced earlier today.

As usual, Chalkbeat has a great write-up of the issue. One interesting wrinkle, its reporters note, is that the suit in question is being brought by an organization, NY Parents Union, that had previously partnered with the UFT on other matters.

NY Parents Union has also sued the state over the now-defunct InBloom data-collection system and over New York City’s inability to agree on a teacher-evaluation system with its union, according to the group’s website.

The NY Parents Union lawsuit is modeled in part on the Vergara vs. California case, in which a state superior court judge ruled that teacher protections in the Golden state unfairly saddled low-income and minority students with poorly performing teachers. The new New York suit states that, while the petitioners “recognize the constitutionally protected procedural due-process rights that teachers with tenure enjoy,” the way those rules are implemented deprives “an exceedingly worrisome number of children” in the state of their constitutional rights to a sound, basic education.

To be clear, this lawsuit is separate from another pending challenge to tenure, seniority-based layoffs, and due process in New York. That potential lawsuit is being spearheaded by the Partnership for Educational Justice, a group headed by former CNN anchor Campbell Brown, but has not been introduced yet. If and when it ultimately is, the two suits could be combined at some point.

The American Federation of Teachers, the UFT’s parent organization, said in a statement supporting its local affiliate that New York City’s teacher-protection rules are markedly different from those in California.

“New York has a baseline three-year probationary period,” the AFT said. “And New York lawmakers, in cooperation with education unions, have repeatedly made changes to the due-process laws to address issues raised in the California Vergara lawsuit, such as aligning the due process and evaluation procedures and expediting the process for dealing with teacher evaluations and disciplinary hearings.”

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.