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Monday, June 10, 2013

NYS Supreme Court rules against NYC DOE and for parents

I have given many presentations to parent groups and CECs, pointing out how DOE has been violating the accountability and public input requirements in the Contracts for Excellence law, by refusing to hold borough hearings and only presenting sketchy power points to Community Education Councils long after the $600 million in annual C4E funds have already been spent.  
Guess what?  The Court agreed.  See press release below.  Thanks to Wendy Lecker of the Education Law Center and plaintiffs Lisa Shaw, Isaac Carmignani,  Shino Tanikawa, and Karen Sprowal; the court decision is here.

Earlier this month, the ELC filed a lawsuit in state courtagainst Commissioner King, pointing out how he is equally culpable, and that his overdue scheduling and lax oversight  itself constitutes a violation of the C4E law.  The lawsuit asks that borough hearings be held in NYC earlier in the year, and the city’s plan for these funds be submitted to the state after the hearings but before these funds are spent. King has been circumventing the public input required by asking the DOE to submit the plan for "pre-approval" before the public hearings had even taken place. Clearly, neither the state nor the city is interesting in listening to parents or complying with the law.  More on this  lawsuit is posted here


June 10, 2013

New York public school parents scored a victory today in a State Supreme Court decision ordering the City Department of Education (DOE) to hold timely borough-wide Contract for Excellence (C4E) public hearings for the 2013-14 school year and future years.

Several New York City public school parents filed suit against Chancellor Dennis Walcott and the DOE in March for depriving them of their statutory rights under New York’s Contract for Excellence law to provide timely input into the City’s annual school spending plan. Education Law Center’s Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) project represented the parents in the lawsuit.

The C4E law was designed to ensure that the public has input on how DOE spends state school aid by requiring one public hearing in every borough of New York. However, for the past two years the DOE has flagrantly violated the law by failing not only to hold hearings in a timely manner , but to hold any borough-wide public hearings at all. The DOE’s action completely eliminated the public process required by the C4E law, thus preventing parents from participating in the development of the City's annual C4E school spending plan.

“Public participation and transparency are critical components of the C4E law, enabling parents to have a say in how vital education dollars will be spent in their children’s schools,” said Wendy Lecker, Senior Attorney for CFE. “This ruling by the court vindicates the legal right of parents to hold the DOE accountable for the effective and efficient use of school funding.”

Judge Peter Moulton ruled that the DOE directly violated the C4E law, which “mandates that DOE hold [C4E] public hearings in each of the five boroughs,” and that the DOE must hold these hearings in all future school years.

“Thank you to Judge Moulton for counteracting the disdain the DOE has for public school parents, who choose 'reducing class sizes' as their top priority every year on the learning environment survey,” said Lisa Shaw, a parent  of four and a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “Students are tested to the extreme for so-called accountability purposes, but rarely is anyone able to hold Chancellor Wolcott accountable. The Judge did so in this decision.”

“Finally, the city is going to have to follow the C4E law, and hold borough hearings and listen to parents, BEFORE the $600 million in annual funds have been spent,” said Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters. “The law was written specifically to require public input in the planning and spending of these dollars. Partly as a result of the broken process and lack of enforcement, class sizes have ballooned out of control, audits are rendered meaningless, and NYC children are now worse off than before the CFE case was decided.”

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Press Contact:
Sharon Krengel
Policy and Outreach Director
973-624-1815, x 24


Anonymous said...

Doe being made accountable? Strange weather patterns. Something is a brewing.

Anonymous said...

It's a start. Remember that ALL CITIZENS, not just parents and not just powerful politicos, have been denied their right to a say in how our tax money is spent on schools and how our citizens are educated.
Only in NYC are we subjects to an education king.