ALBANY, N.Y. October 10, 2018 — New York State United Teachers, along with its local unions in Syracuse and Rochester, today sued the Regents and State Education Department, charging they exceeded their legal authority in adopting some regulations implementing the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.
“Collective bargaining is the lifeblood of unionism,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. “We will always be fierce in protecting our members’ rights and the sanctity of their contracts. This lawsuit seeks to block illegal regulations that would erode protections that were fought for — and won — at the bargaining table by our locals in Syracuse, Rochester and other districts across the state.”
NYSUT’s lawsuit, filed in state Supreme Court in Albany, challenges a set of regulations adopted by the Regents in June that pertain to schools identified under the state’s accountability system as needing Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI). The lawsuit alleges that, by seeking to limit incoming teacher transfers at CSI schools to those teachers rated “highly effective” or “effective” under the state’s broken evaluation system, the ESSA regulations exceed SED’s authority and violate the Taylor Law, which governs collective bargaining in New York State.
In addition, NYSUT is also challenging what could occur should the State Education Department close or phase out a low-performing school that had been designated as a School Under Registration Review. The suit seeks to overturn newly adopted regulations that would allow SED to circumvent agreed-upon teacher contracts and require schools to only assign teachers who have been rated “highly effective” or “effective” for three consecutive years to these newly constituted schools.
“The Legislature has not approved — or even considered — any of this,” Pallotta said. “The State Education Department must not be allowed to silence the voice of teachers and try to accomplish through regulations what has not passed the Legislature.”
The suit cites teacher transfer language negotiated by the Syracuse Teachers Association and the Rochester Teachers Association. It notes that ESSA specifically prohibits states from interfering with the rights afforded to school employees under federal, state or local laws, or the terms of collective bargaining agreements.
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.