ALBANY, N.Y. January 15, 2009 - New York State United Teachers today welcomed an appellate court decision requiring charter schools to comply with state audits, saying that the current economic climate underscores that taxpayers deserve accountability for how public money is spent and how charter schools perform.
Today's 4-1 ruling by the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court reverses a lower court decision and finds that charter schools - which receive more than $220 million annually in public funding from local, state and federal sources - must comply with the Legislature's order directing the Office of the State Comptroller to audit all public schools.
"Taxpayers must have confidence that public dollars for education are being spent wisely. Teachers understand that accountability and transparency for tax dollars and policy decisions impacting students are essential, especially now, when every education dollar is needed to support students," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "We applaud this decision, which merely begins to even the playing field for everyone receiving tax money for education."
NYSUT, which represents teachers in some charter schools, filed an amicus brief in January 2008 in support of the state's right to conduct audits. The union said charter schools should be within the scope of the comptroller's audit responsibilities.
"Charter schools, as incubators for replicable, innovative strategies that improve learning for students at risk, have their place in our education system," Iannuzzi added. "But, we need sunshine - on spending; on how students are selected and tested; and on how schools perform. Public policy decisions and legitimate debate over issues depend on transparency and accountability."
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents some 600,000 classroom teachers and other school employees; faculty and other professionals at the state's community colleges, State University of New York and City University of New York, and other education and health professionals. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.