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Updated June 19, 2018
Judge strikes down rule allowing some New York charter schools to certify their own teachers
The ruling upends the plans of the city’s largest charter school network, Success Academy.
Updated March 12, 2018
Colorado’s high court: There’s no such thing as teacher tenure
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled against Denver teachers in a dispute over the district putting them on unpaid leave.
Payday coming soon
February 23, 2018
Pension paybacks for Detroit district employees may show up in March
The Detroit district has a large burden, tasked with processing 13,416 refunds totaling $28.9 million.
Right to read
January 12, 2017
Detroit children blast governor over ‘blaming students’ for failing schools
Lawyers for the children responded Thursday that Snyder and other state officials named in the suit were seeking to “evade responsibility by any means possible.”
February 19, 2016
Federal judge dismisses TEA lawsuit challenging TVAAS in teacher bonuses
The formula that Tennessee uses to rate teachers might be unfair — but it still can be used to decide whether they should get bonuses, a federal court has ruled.
September 21, 2015
Haslam says state is fulfilling legal funding obligation to Shelby County Schools
In his first public comments on the latest school funding lawsuit against the state, Gov. Bill Haslam says he believes the state its fulfilling its legal obligation.
June 10, 2015
After judge says school leadership meetings are public, city tells principals they are not
The city told principals that leadership team meetings are not open to the public while it appeals a judge's April decision that they are subject to open meetings rules.
April 23, 2015
Rejecting city argument, judge rules that school leadership meetings are public
A Manhattan judge sided with advocates who filed a lawsuit arguing that leadership teams meetings should be public since they play an important role in schools.
March 10, 2015
House panel tables teacher pay funding discussion until summer
State legislators delay a bill designed to help local school districts pay their teachers and achieve parity across the state.
February 19, 2015
New database estimates how much schools are missing from equity settlement
Advocates for school funding equity have launched a new website to show families and the public exactly how much money their school or district is due but not receiving each year under a years-old legal settlement whose terms have yet to be fulfilled.
February 9, 2015
State of the State preview: Haslam will propose teacher pay increase
Gov. Bill Haslam is expected to make education, including teacher pay and classroom standards, a centerpiece of his State of the State address Monday evening.
January 9, 2015
Faced with lawsuits, city argues school leadership meetings are not public
The city's public advocate and a parent group are joining a lawsuit brought by a retired teacher, who is suing the city to make school leadership team meetings open to the public.
October 28, 2014
UFT asks court to toss lawsuit challenging teacher tenure
The city teachers union has taken another step to thwart a high-profile lawsuit against teacher tenure in New York State, asking the court to throw out…
see you in court
September 11, 2014
Two teacher tenure lawsuits are combined, but not in harmony
Two teacher tenure lawsuits have officially been combined, but representatives from the two cases don't seem to be getting along.
August 14, 2014
M-SCEA files two lawsuits focused on rights of tenured Shelby County teachers
Shelby County Schools tenured teachers displaced by school closures and staff reductions use litigation to fight for job placement in the district.
August 1, 2014
Three takeaways from The Colbert Report's teacher-tenure talk
The debate over New York's teacher tenure laws moved from the steps of City Hall to the studios of The Colbert Report on Thursday night.
July 27, 2014
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…
July 18, 2014
Educators, parents to discuss school options at three community meetings
Stand for Children along with the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) will hold three meetings across Memphis in the next two weeks to facilitate conversations…
July 16, 2014
Shelby County Schools continues to hire teachers, job fair planned later this week
With just three weeks before the school year begins, Shelby County Schools administrators continue to rapidly hire dozens of laid-off teachers. Nearly 300 laid-off teachers…
March 10, 2014
TEA files lawsuit on behalf of Knox County teacher
The Tennessee Education Association has filed a lawsuit on the behalf of a Knox County teacher who believes she was unfairly denied a bonus as…
February 20, 2014
Shelby County Schools’ proposed rezoning plan reflects goal to keep students in district
Shelby County School Board members reviewed a proposed rezoning plan for students in the Memphis reserve and municipality zones.
January 15, 2014
Civil rights lawsuit regarding creation of new suburban districts nears close
Papers were filed this week to end the civil rights lawsuit involving the creation of new municipal school districts in six suburbs near Memphis,…
December 10, 2013
Shelby County school board approves agreement with Germantown
Shelby County's school board approved its final agreement with Germantown in a special-called meeting Tuesday. The vote brings to close a months-long debate over which schools will be absorbed by six municipalities that don't want to be part of the merged Shelby County School district.
December 2, 2013
Shelby County Commission approves deals with Bartlett, Collierville, Millington
The Shelby County Commission voted unanimously to approve settlements with Bartlett, Collierville, and Millington Monday. The settlements will facilitate the suburbs' plans to open their own school districts. The commission also approved the quitclaim deeds that transfer school buildings from the merged Shelby County school system to the municipalities.
November 26, 2013
Shelby County Schools approves agreements with Collierville, Millington, and Bartlett
At a special called meeting this evening, Shelby County’s school board unanimously approved agreements with Collierville, Millington, and Bartlett. The agreements settle a lawsuit and…
November 21, 2013
Bartlett reaches settlement with Shelby County Schools
Bartlett has reached a settlement with Shelby County Schools, WREG reported last night. Bartlett, the largest suburb in the Memphis-area, will pay $7.3 million…
November 19, 2013
Shelby County board approves building transfers, settlement with two suburban districts
Shelby County’s school board voted unanimously Tuesday to transfer five school buildings to two of the six suburban cities that plan to break away from…
November 6, 2013
As Germantown mayor begs to negotiate, Shelby board members gawk
Germantown’s mayor, Sharon Goldsworthy, upset several Shelby school board members at a committee meeting Wednesday when she claimed to want to keep Memphis students within…
October 28, 2013
No action on municipalities’ lawsuit at Shelby commissioners’ meeting
Shelby County's Board of Commissioners didn't vote on whether to drop a longstanding lawsuit against several municipalities attempting to split from Shelby County Schools Monday, despite suggestions that the decision could come this week. Shelby County commissioner James Harvey told Chalkbeat last Tuesday that the county commission is considering dropping a lawsuit that would prevent municipalities from splitting from Shelby County’s school district. Six municipalities are attempting to separate from Shelby County Schools after the system absorbed Memphis City Schools, which is mostly poor and black.
July 18, 2013
UFT lawsuit to stop changes in school utilization
Link: UFT lawsuit to stop changes in school utilization The UFT has filed the lawsuit that it said it would today, to block…
July 10, 2012
Judge rules that city must reinstate staff at turnaround schools
Lawyers for the UFT spoke to reporters about the union's short-term court victory outside of New York State Supreme Court today. Legal battles between the city and the United Federation of Teachers are typically long, drawn-out affairs. Not today. In just 40 minutes this afternoon, Judge Joan Lobis of the New York State Supreme Court made up her mind about the city's request to suspend an arbitrator's ruling in the UFT's favor while she considers the city's formal appeal. There will be no restraining order, Lobis ruled. That means that hiring and firing decisions that have been made at 24 struggling schools that the city was trying to overhaul will be reversed. The Department of Education will have to reinstate hundreds — and possibly thousands — of teachers and administrators cut loose from the schools as part of the "turnaround" process. "They no longer have an excuse for not complying with the arbitrator's award," Ross said about the city. Asked by reporters about the education department's immediate plans for allowing the teachers to reclaim their positions, Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg said, "Talk to the law department." The city's top lawyer, Michael Cardozo, said in a statement that he was confident that Lobis would side with the city as the case moves forward. The hearing was a first step in the city's appeal of a ruling handed down two weeks ago by an arbitrator who found that the city's hiring and firing decisions — a key aspect of the Department of Education's turnaround plans — violated the city's contract with the teachers union.
May 18, 2012
"Turnaround" hiring to resume, but decisions could be reversed
State Education Commissioner John King observes an English and Language Arts class at the Dual Language Middle School. Hiring is set to resume at the 24 "turnaround" schools under an agreement city and union officials reached late Friday afternoon. But the hiring decisions could be reversed if an arbitrator ultimately decides that the unions' complaint — that the city is attempting to circumvent contractual hiring and firing policies at the schools — is valid. The city teachers and principals unions sued to stop the hiring process, but on Wednesday, a State Supreme Court judge urged both sides to accept arbitration rather than pursue litigation. Today, the city and unions agreed "in principle" to seek arbitration, selected an arbitrator, and selected a first meeting date — June 5. In the meantime, the city will continue the process of rehiring or replacing teachers at the schools — but will have to run the risk of having those decisions undone if the arbitrator rules in the unions' favor. The outcome of the contractual dispute could affect the state's ability to approve those 24 schools for a pot of federal funds, Commissioner John King told reporters today.
May 9, 2012
Officials: Temporary stay on turnarounds could derail process
City officials are fretting that even a temporary halt to hiring at 24 turnaround schools will weaken their ability to carry out a key piece of the improvement strategy for those schools: recruiting top-quality teachers. On Tuesday, when the Department of Education agreed to halt hiring in the schools for at least a week during the first round of a union lawsuit, officials said no hiring would be happening yet anyway. But they are worried about what would happen if Judge Joan Lobis grants a temporary restraining order extending the freeze, as she did two years ago when a union lawsuit over school closures came before her. If that freeze extends into June, officials say it could hurt the schools' chances of attracting and retaining the most qualified teachers in the applicant pool. When the judge decides whether to grant a temporary restraining order, she will weigh the likelihood that the unions' case has merits — but not the merits themselves — and also the likelihood that a delay would harm the schools. Department officials seem likely to argue that the schools would not be able to recover from a slowdown because teachers may not be able to hold out until June if they receive other job offers before then. But the request for a restraining order is not unexpected: The UFT vowed to sue almost as soon as Mayor Bloomberg announced the turnaround plans in January, and seeking a temporary restraining order is the first step in many legal fights over school policy.
July 25, 2011
Following one legal victory, city faces new battle on co-locations
The lead plaintiffs on a new lawsuit against the Department of Education stand on steps of Tweed (from left: Arthur Schwartz, of Advocates for Justice; Mona Davids, of NYC Parents Union; Noah Gotbaum, District 3 Community Education Council President; and Leonie Haimson, of Class Size Matters Just days after the city received some good news in a lawsuit targeting its policy on charter school co-locations, another legal battle has arrived. A group of parent activists filed a long-threatened lawsuit against the Department of Education today, charging that it is in violation of state law that requires school districts to collect rent and utility money from charters schools that occupy public school buildings. The state education law cited in the lawsuit, Section 2853(4)(c), asserts that charters may rent public space and be provided with basic maintenance services, such as custodial work, utility payments and safety measures. But the law also states that the expenses from these services should be provided to charters "at cost." The exact amount of "at cost" is not clearly explained in the law - and state education officials did not respond to emails seeking clarification - but the city currently charges $1 in annual rent to about 80 charter schools that operate in public school buildings. It also waives fees for utilities and provides operational services. The lawsuit estimates that these costs add up to $100 million per year and should be shouldered entirely by charter schools.
July 22, 2011
Top DOE official proposes happy hour to celebrate lawsuit news
The Department of Education official in charge of opening and closing schools has proposed drinking to the news that some of his plans can go forward. In an email to at nearly 80 top-ranking DOE employees — but not to Chancellor Dennis Walcott — Deputy Chancellor of Portfolio Planning Marc Sternberg announced a happy hour to celebrate last night's State Supreme Court ruling in the lawsuit filed by the UFT and NAACP. He wrote: Last night: New York Supreme Court Justice Paul Feinman denied the UFT and NAACP's request for a preliminary injunction preventing the Department of Education from moving forward to close 22 failing schools and co-locate 15 public charter schools in DOE buildings. The judge's ruling allows the DOE to move forward with the closings and co-locations. Tonight: Come join us for a drink to honor this important moment for New York City's public school families! Please forward —all are welcome! The email was sent just before 1 p.m. today and was later posted to the NYC Education News listserv run by parent activist Leonie Haimson. Natalie Ravitz, the DOE's chief spokeswoman, confirmed the message's authenticity. "We have no problem with our employees getting together with friends after work for a happy hour, as people do in companies and organizations across America," Ravitz said. The full email, including its addressees, is below.
July 22, 2011
As co-location construction starts, the UFT weighs its next steps
Hours after a judge ruled that the city can go ahead with a controversial slate of school closure and openings, union lawyers are starting to sketch out their response. Department of Education officials said construction projects planned to ready school buildings for co-locations were free to begin. At PS 308 in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, workers were painting classrooms. But Rafiq Kalam Id-Din said he was still waiting for the city to approve construction for the school he runs, Teaching Firms of America Charter School. Meanwhile, lawyers for the United Federation of Teachers, one of the leading plaintiffs in the lawsuit, are studying the decision and deliberating their next steps. The ruling last night denied a preliminary injunction that would have barred the city from moving forward with its plans, but it did not assess the merits of the UFT and NAACP's claims that the city's plans would lead to inequities among schools. Last night, the union said it would not drop the lawsuit, and any future adjudication would focus on those equity claims. But it could take some time for union lawyers to wade through questions that could influence how they proceed. One question is just what the union would seek to get out of such a suit. With the start of the school year just weeks away, the chance of any further action preventing the start of phase-outs and the beginning of co-locations is virtually nil.
July 7, 2011
As closure looms, Columbus teachers plan curriculum revamp
Christopher Columbus High School students wait to receive their diplomas at graduation in the Lehman College auditorium.Tamjid Chowdhury, this year’s valedictorian of Christopher Columbus High School, said in his graduation speech that the fight to save his school from closing had ironically provided some of his favorite memories. Tamjid Chowdhury, this year’s valedictorian of Christopher Columbus High School, said in his graduation speech that the fight to save his school from closing had ironically provided some of his favorite memories. "It was one time I was awed by the sense of unity in the school,” he said of the rallies. For teachers and staff at the Bronx school, another year under the threat of closure has ended with stories of coming together to improve. The unity extended beyond protests at public meetings. Without anyone asking them to, a group of teachers at the school spent the year huddling together to redesign the school's curriculum. “We knew if anything good was going to come out of this year, we would have to generate it, and we would have to execute it," said Christine Rowland, an English teacher who also works for the UFT. City officials tried to close Columbus this year and last year, and they want Columbus phased out by 2014 to open a new school in the building. Teachers have tried to save the school multiple times by rallying behind efforts to convert Columbus into a charter school, and Columbus remains at the center of the lawsuit filed by the teachers union and the NAACP to stop school closures. “It’s a really big blow to our psyche,” said Larry Minetti, an art teacher who has taught at Columbus for 16 years.
June 30, 2011
Construction for Success Academy at Brandeis may begin soon
A judge today opened the door for construction to start at Brandeis Educational Complex in preparation for a charter school to move into the building. The hearing was a part of the lawsuit filed by Brandeis parents to stop Upper West Success Academy from opening in the Brandeis campus, which is currently home to five high schools. The city has said that it needs four weeks to prepare the building for Upper West Success, which would be the only elementary school in the building. Since teachers are set to begin work on August 2 and classes start August 24, construction on an elementary-only cafeteria and multipurpose room would need to begin immediately. Judge Paul Feinman chose not to extend the temporary restraining order against those plans, saying that it made sense to allow some construction to begin in case the co-location was given a green light. "I don't see what harm there is to allow construction on the first floor to move forward," he said.
May 18, 2011
Teachers union lawsuit takes aim at 22 school closures
For the second time in two years, the city teachers union is suing to stop the Bloomberg administration from closing schools and opening new ones in their place. The union's lawsuit, which it filed along with the NAACP and a host of elected officials and parents, challenges plans to close 22 of the 26 schools that education officials hope to phase out this year. Last year, the union successfully stopped the city from closing 19 schools by persuading a State Supreme Court judge that the closures violated various requirements in the state's education law. These ranged from not following the law about public notification of hearing dates to failing to failing to map out the predicted impact of school closures. This year, the city took pains to follow public notification rules, beginning the process earlier in the year, and by last month, 26 schools had ended up on the chopping block. Perhaps as a result, the United Federation of Teachers' argument against closures this year is broader and more complicated. And unlike last year, the union is also seeking to prevent charter schools from moving into public school buildings, charging that the city did not prove the co-locations would be equitable. “The department continues to insist that phase-outs and closures of schools and co-locating untested schools is the answer, while depriving the remaining students in those designated, 22 schools of the resources to succeed academically,” said Kenneth Cohen of the NAACP at a press conference this morning. Chancellor Dennis Walcott — who said he learned about the suit not from UFT President Michael Mulgrew but from a reporter this morning — said he was "saddened" by the suit. As deputy mayor, Walcott decried the NAACP last year for its involvement in the school closure lawsuit because he said the group prevented the city from improving school choices. "We totally disagree with the union," Walcott said. "We have met the letter of the law and we will continue to meet the letter of the law as far as these schools are concerned."
January 10, 2011
Teachers union loses suit to keep teacher ratings anonymous
New York City’s teachers union lost its suit to block the city from releasing 12,000 teachers’ ratings and names that, for years, have been…
November 15, 2010
City news outlets join suit over teacher effectiveness scores
Five news organizations have joined the lawsuit over whether the city can release teachers' effectiveness scores, arguing that they have a right to see the data. Lawyers for the New York Times, Daily News, New York Post, the Wall Street Journal, and NY1 have decided to intervene in the case, according to a spokeswoman for the city's law department. They will file their own papers, but are taking the same position as the city's lawyers, arguing that the data is not protected under the Freedom of Information law. Reporters at each of the news organizations submitted requests for the data and the city planned to release the reports until last month when the teachers union sued to stop them. In its lawsuit, the union's lawyers wrote that the Department of Education should have denied reporters’ FOIL requests because the teachers’ ratings are exempt from disclosure. The suit also said that making the scores public would amount to an invasion of teachers' privacy.
October 21, 2010
Union files suit to stop release of individual teacher ratings
United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew held up a sign at a press conference today showing the formula used to calculated teachers' ratings. The city's teachers union filed suit this morning, asking the State Supreme Court to bar the city from releasing 12,000 teachers' effectiveness scores with their names included. Department of Education officials said yesterday that they planned to send the teacher ratings to reporters as soon as this Friday, unless the union's suit stops them. Several news organizations filed Freedom of Information Law requests for the data, and city officials said they were responding to these requests. Union officials are currently in court and expect a judge to rule on their suit later today. Underpinning the United Federation of Teachers' lawsuit is the claim that releasing teachers' ratings with their names included is an unlawful invasion of privacy. "Teachers will be exposed to harassment on a personal and professional level from parents unhappy with the contents of the TDRs," the suit states. "Such harassment could include demands for termination, discipline, and transfer of children out of teachers' classrooms, as well as threats to the persons of individual teachers."
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