Thursday, April 23, 2015

Terrific Court Decision on School Leadership Teams and the Open Meetings Law

5/22/15 Update: We just found out the DOE is appealing this decision, showing their disrespect for parents and the public's right to know. Sadly, the CSA, the NYC principals union, expressed their  support for the DOE decision to appeal, despite this slam dunk decision that SLT meetings MUST be open to the public.

Newsclips on the court decision  include AP, NY Times, Chalkbeat , City and State, and National School Board Association Legal Clips.  

Today we found out that we had won our lawsuit vs. the DOE on the issue of whether School Leadership Team meetings must be open to the public. Class Size Matters and Public Advocate Tish James had intervened in this case back in January, which was originally brought by a retired teacher named Michael Thomas when he was denied access to a School Leadership Team meeting on Staten Island.

Judge Moulton of the NY Supreme Court wrote a great decision which is a slam dunk for our side. Thanks to Michael Thomas, Tish James, and our pro bono attorneys from Advocates for Justice and NY Lawyers for Public Interest.  Thanks also to Lisa Donlan, President of CEC 1, who provided a critical affidavit in the case and provided much of the legal research on Open Meetings Law. Here is today's press release from Public Advocate Tish James.

This is a big win for parents and transparency. The Judge's decision also emphasizes the important role that School Leadership Teams have in the overall governance system, which the DOE tried to deny -- claiming falsely that they have only "advisory powers." See the decision below.   
I hope the Chancellor sends out an immediate message to principals, teachers and parents, informing them of the court decision, acknowledging that SLT's have real authority when it comes to devising a comprehensive education plan for every school, and clearly stating that their meetings are open to the public.

The fact that the DOE argued otherwise in court-- that SLT's only have advisory powers --is not only contrary to law, but also flies in the face of their claim that they respect parent input. More about the background of this case and its importance on our blog, City and State and Chalkbeat.

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