Labor Issues
September 09, 2016

Magee, Weingarten charge LIU with violating education laws and regulations

Author: NYSUT President Karen E. Magee and AFT President Randi Weingarten
Source: NYSUT and AFT

September 9, 2016

MaryEllen Elia, Commissioner
New York State Education Department
State Education Building
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, New York 12234

Dear Commissioner Elia:

We bring to your immediate attention the serious situation at Long Island University (LIU) that raises urgent questions concerning LIU' s compliance with the New York Education Law and Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.

On September 3, 2016, the administration locked out its entire full-time and adjunct faculty from the LIU-Brooklyn Campus. Students were scheduled to begin classes on September 7. While the crisis created by the LID administration arises in the context of a collective bargaining relationship, the administration's action of forcing professors out of their classrooms and off LIU's campus jeopardizes each program's compliance with the faculty quality standards in 8 CRR-NY 52.2 (b).

The real and imminent endangerment of the LIU Brooklyn Campus students' semester studies is such that we ask the Department to exercise immediately its oversight powers. We respectfully seek your engagement for the protection of the student body and the university.

A lockout of the faculty is unprecedented in the history of U.S. Higher Education. LIU's lockout of faculty and its decision to use administrators and others who do not meet the regulation's quality standards to replace qualified faculty in the classrooms, labs and in other aspects of the teaching-learning relationship undermines LIU's educational operation and may violate the Education Law and Regulations. The Comprehensive Guidance Document for Program Registration, issued pursuant to 8 CRR-NY 52.2 provides the Department's faculty expectations, including:

  • The faculty assigned to the program have the professional expertise, college teaching and administrative experiences appropriate to their assignments.
  • The faculty have the documented expertise, including the advanced study and licensure appropriate to the field, to teach effectively each course to which they are assigned in appropriate depth and breadth, and to conduct other faculty responsibilities set forth in the standards.

The American Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do.

  • Faculty members teaching at the certificate, associate degree, and baccalaureate levels hold at least a master's degree in an appropriate field and have the background for in-depth teaching, curriculum development, and program evaluation responsibilities.
  • At least one faculty member teaching in each curriculum at the baccalaureate level must hold an earned doctorate in the discipline of the major of the program.
  • Faculty members teaching at the graduate level must hold earned doctorates or other terminal degrees in their specialty areas.
  • Faculty members teaching at the graduate level without an earned doctorate or other terminal degree have significant, widely recognized special competence in the field in which they teach.

LIU's lockout of all full-time and adjunct faculty raises serious doubts about each program's ability to meet the Department's expectations and legal requirements.

Students who expected that qualified accredited faculty would be teaching their classes and guiding them at the LIU-Brooklyn Campus have been informed that many of their courses will be taught by substitutes, often administrators without the requisite academic credentials and experience. To date, the university has indicated publicly that it has hired a number of replacement faculty that does not suffice to cover all scheduled classes. The LIU administration's extraordinary actions have left the faculty with no other choice but to alert you of this extremely regrettable situation.

The actions of the administration at LIU-Brooklyn are not what students, faculty, parents, alumni and the community expect of an accredited higher education institution. We question whether quality of the education to be offered by LIU-Brooklyn under the conditions created by the university administration meet the Department's legal requirements.

We respectfully request that the Department answer these questions.

Truly Yours,

Randi Weingarten, President
American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO

Karen E. Magee, President
New York State United Teachers, AFT, AFL-CIO

cc: Betty Rosa, Chancellor, NYS Board of Regents
New York State Board of Regents
Dr. John B. King, Jr., Secretary, U.S. Department of Education
Dr. Kimberly R. Cline, President, Long Island University
Eric Krasnoff, Chair, Long Island University Board of Trustees