March 13, 2015

NYSUT set to appeal judge's ruling in tenure lawsuit

Author: Matt Smith
Source:  NYSUT Communications

A state Supreme Court judge has denied NYSUT's preliminary effort to throw out a legal challenge to the state's teacher tenure law.

Justice Philip G. Minardo of Richmond County, in a decision handed down late Thursday afternoon, rejected the union's motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed in June by a self-proclaimed reform group called the Partnership for Educational Justice.

The group, funded by an undisclosed network of wealthy backers and fronted by former CNN television celebrity Campbell Brown, claims New York's tenure law deprives students of their right to a sound basic education.

NYSUT argued the tenure statute, which in New York state dates back more than 100 years, is a policy matter that should be determined by the Legislature, not the courts. But Minardo, in his ruling, said using the courts to challenge tenure was "justifiable... not for the purpose of making policy decisions, but to preserve the constitutional rights of its citizenry."

NYSUT will appeal Minardo's decision. Upon receiving the judge's ruling, the union released the following statement:

"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.

"Today's decision, while disappointing, is not unexpected. In a motion to dismiss, the judge must assume all the facts are true. Unfortunately, we know the plaintiffs put before Justice Minardo inaccurate and out-of-date information when accurate and current information about the streamlined teacher disciplinary process was already in the public realm and easily obtainable. NYSUT anticipates taking this meritless attack on fairness and due process to the appellate division immediately."