Campbell Brown’s group to file teacher tenure suit

A month after announcing their plans to challenge New York’s teacher-tenure laws, a group of seven families led by the news-anchor-turned-education-activist Campbell Brown will file a complaint in state court on Monday.

The suit, to be filed in Albany by Brown’s group, Partnership for Educational Justice, is the second such case in New York and follows a California ruling in June that deemed teacher tenure laws in that state unconstitutional.

This latest New York lawsuit mirrors the California case in a few ways. Both challenge:

  • The “last in, first out” policy in which districts lay off teachers based on seniority, not teaching ability,
  • The too-short amount of time, plaintiffs feel, that administrators have to decide whether a teacher is effective enough to get tenure,
  • The disciplinary statues that makes firing ineffective teachers a difficult and lengthy process.

New York teacher tenure laws, in a crucial difference, require teachers to be on the job longer than is required in California before qualifying for tenure. New York has also implemented a new teacher-evaluation system to better weed out ineffective educators.

The law firm Kirkland & Ellis will represent the seven families from across the city, as well as Rochester, New York, pro bono.

The parent advocacy group Alliance for Quality Education immediately voiced opposition to the suit.

“Campbell Brown does not speak for me,” said Elzora Cleveland, a public school parent and de Blasio appointee to the Panel for Education Policy, saying that Brown and the suit are “attacking the rights of our skilled and experienced teachers.”

Update: Lawyers for the parents bringing the lawsuit against the state have filed a 425-page brief. The entire document is below.