ALBANY, N.Y. Jan. 26, 2016 - New York State United Teachers today filed suit saying that the State Education Department's actions on Teacher Improvement Plans violate the state's Taylor Law and teachers' collective bargaining rights.
The suit filed in state Supreme Court in Albany on behalf of four teachers and six local teachers' unions charges that the State Education Department violated the Taylor Law, which governs public employee contracts and negotiations, by illegally taking Teacher Improvement Plans, which had previously been bargained, into the realm of management prerogative.
In addition, the NYSUT suit alleges that, by empowering the State Education Department to make "corrective action" on previously approved teacher evaluation plans, the state is infringing on existing, binding legal contracts negotiated between local teachers unions and school districts.
SED's actions are "inconsistent with the Taylor Law, which establishes that all teacher evaluation and disciplinary procedures are mandatorily negotiable," the suit alleges.
NYSUT President Karen E. Magee said: "As this lawsuit clearly demonstrates, NYSUT will continue to fiercely defend the collective bargaining rights of each and every one of its members and local unions against any encroachment."
NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino added: "NYSUT is committed to an evaluation system that is fair and meaningful, and which helps our already excellent teaching force to grow even stronger. We will continue to fight against over-testing and to ensure that New York teachers - and their unions - are integral to any change through a robust collective bargaining process. Make no mistake, our advocacy on behalf of members will continue until the state's test-and-punish era is forever swept into the dustbin of history."
The NYSUT lawsuit is filed on behalf of the union and Magee; along with Schenectady Federation of Teachers by its President Juliet Benaquisto; Buffalo Teachers Federation by its President Phil Rumore; Troy Teachers Association by its President Seth Cohen; North Babylon Teachers' Organization by its President Selina Durio; Yonkers Federation of Teachers by its President Pat Puleo; and the Haverling Teachers Assocation by its President Matt Hill. Benaquisto, Cohen, Durio and Hill are suing as individuals and as presidents of their local unions.
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.