Legal fight over teacher tenure continues

The legal fight over job protections for New York teachers is continuing, as the lawyers for the parent plaintiffs have filed a formal rebuttal to teachers unions’ requests to dismiss the lawsuit altogether.

Davids v. New York, a consolidated lawsuit filed on behalf of public school students from New York City, Albany, and Rochester, is challenging three job protections for teachers: the amount of time before teachers are eligible for tenure, the dismissal process, and the seniority rights of veteran educators during layoffs. Those protections, according to the plaintiffs, are leaving ineffective teachers in the classroom and limiting students’ achievement as a result.

The city and state teachers unions disagree, and already filed motions asking the judge to dismiss the case. Now, the law firm representing the parents has shot back.

In their motions, the unions claimed that the parent plaintiffs lacked standing to file the lawsuit. They say the changes the Davids lawsuit is seeking are outsized responses to unspecified harm allegedly done by a single teacher to one student, since only one plaintiff claimed that their child had personally been harmed by ineffective teaching.

In the response filed late Friday, the plaintiffs, some of whom are being backed by the Partnership for Educational Justice, argued that all they need to establish is that their children were deprived of a “sound basic” education and that the state’s policies are to blame. The plaintiffs’ lawyers also argue that the courts are the appropriate venue to argue the merits of tenure, teacher discipline, and seniority benefits, though the unions say they should be decided by state lawmakers.

Davids v. New York is the consolidation of two court cases, Wright v. New York, which was supported by television anchor-turned education advocate and Partnership for Educational Justice founder Campbell Brown, and the Davids v. New York case, filed by Mona Davids, a public school parent and education advocate.

A hearing in the case is scheduled for January. You can read the entire motion here.

Correction: An earlier version of this story identified the consolidated case as Wright v. New York.  The case is titled Davids v. New York.