Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Victory for parents and kids in stage one of class size lawsuit!
Judge Barone of the NY Supreme Court issued decision (in pdf) this afternoon and denied the city's attempt to dismiss our class size lawsuit. brought in January by the UFT, Class Size Matters, the NAACP, and other parents and community groups.
The city had claimed that only the State Education Commissioner could rule on whether they violated the law when it came to class size. Inserted in the language of the law was a clause asserting that the “sole and exclusive remedy for any violation” was a petition to commissioner, and “the decision of the commissioner on such petition shall be final and unreviewable.”
This language was most likely the DOE’s sneaky attempt to ensure that they would never have to comply with the law, as they were convinced that the commissioner, then Richard Mills, would get them off the hook, as he had in many cases before.
Yet the judge found the attempt to box out the court was likely unconstitutional, and that the legislature must have meant that the commissioner had the final right of review over the details of the class size plan, not the city’s legal compliance, especially as this entire matter flowed out of the court’s decision in CFE.
The city’s other main argument was that our petition should have gone to the Commissioner first in any case.
The judge agreed with our attorneys that this would cause unnecessary delay and would "irreparably damage the children who will during the course of these proceedings be relegated to learning in the overcrowded conditions which the legislature sought to alleviate.”
Yet another victory for NYC parents and their children's right to have a quality education, and another slap in the face of DOE’s outlaw mentality.
The Judge wrote they will see the attorneys in court on July 26 for a pre-hearing conference to start determining the facts of the case, i.e. whether the DOE has actually complied with its plan and reduced class size.
The facts on this issue are clear; they have not.