Labor Issues, New York State Certification
October 29, 2014

NYSUT files motion to dismiss lawsuit challenging tenure law

Source:  NYSUT Media Relations

ALBANY, N.Y. Oct. 29, 2014 — New York State United Teachers announced today it has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit challenging the state’s tenure law, arguing the suit is without any legal merit and that the policies plaintiffs propose would harm public education.

“From the moment this lawsuit was filed, I have made clear that NYSUT’s defense would be vigorous and unwavering against this meritless assault on public education and employment rights,” said NYSUT President Karen E. Magee. “Our motion to dismiss is as strong legally as this lawsuit is weak.

“Saying you want to help students by attacking their teachers is a perverse notion,” Magee added. “Tenure is an important safeguard that ensures children receive a quality education. It enables teachers to speak out in the best interest of their students and it protects academic freedom. This attack on a basic due-process protection for devoted educators is a grave distraction from what our priority should be: recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers.”

The motion to dismiss was filed in state Supreme Court, Richmond County. Motions to dismiss the suit also are expected to be filed by the United Federation of Teachers, New York state, New York City and the School Administrators of New York State.

Earlier this month, state Supreme Court Justice Phillip G. Minardo, who is overseeing the tenure case, granted NYSUT’s motion to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of seven individual teachers and the statewide union. Approval of that motion officially made the teachers and NYSUT parties to the suit, enabling them to aggressively defend the state’s tenure law which for more than a century has allowed New York’s educators to effectively advocate for students and has protected good teachers from arbitrary firing.

Initially, the state faced two separate legal challenges over tenure — Davids v. New York and Wright v. New York. Those cases have since been consolidated. The office of State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is representing New York state.

Plaintiffs will have until Dec. 5 to respond to NYSUT’s motion to dismiss. Arguments in the case are scheduled for Jan. 14.

Former CNN News Anchor Campbell Brown — whose Partnership for Educational Justice group comprises wealthy and self-proclaimed “education reformers” — has been acting as a spokesperson for the plaintiffs.

“The unfortunate truth is this specious lawsuit distracts from the real issue plaguing education: poverty,” said NYSUT’s Magee. “If the wealthy elite and its ex-television celebrity spokesperson were truly serious about helping our students succeed in the classroom, they would stand with us in our unrelenting fight for appropriately funded schools and the fair distribution of education aid, which in turn allows for smaller class sizes, arts and music education and services for students in need.”

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.