Judge: Department Of Ed. Violated UFT, CSA Contracts
Although William Cullen Bryant H.S. is now the Academy of Humanities and Applied Science at William Cullen Bryant Campus and Long Island City H.S. is now the Global Scholars Academies of Long Island City, all teachers at both schools, as well as those at all 22 other “turnaround” schools, can return in September.
State Supreme Court Justice Joan Lobis upheld an arbitration decision on July 24 that the city Department of Education (DOE) violated the contracts of both the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and the Council of Supervisors and Administrators (CSA) in requiring all staff at the 24 persistently low-achieving (PLA) schools to reapply for their positions at the end of the past school year. The arbitrator’s ruling allows for all teachers and administrators to return in September to the schools they left at the close of the 2011-2012 academic year in June.
“It is now time to prepare the teachers, principals and school communities for the opening of school and we hope that the mayor will spend as much effort on helping struggling schools succeed as he does on his own political needs,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said in a July 24 statement.
“The mayor and chancellor will not allow failing schools to deprive our students of the high quality education they deserve. Although we will of course comply with the judge’s ruling, we strongly disagree with it and we will be appealing,” city Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo said, also in a July 24 statement. The state Court of Appeals does not sit during the summer and the appeal cannot be filed until the fall.
Lobis announced her decision almost immediately after a 45-minute hearing. Arbitrator Scott Buchheit had ruled on June 29 that the “turnaround” provision employed by the city at the 24 PLA schools violated the UFT and CSA contracts—the very basis for the DOE’s rationale to employ the “turnaround” plan.
“The DOE cannot use the end result of Article 18D (in the UFT contract) being invoked as justification for why it is permitted to invoke 18D,” Buchheit said in his July 6 written decision. Buchheit described the DOE’s argument as “circular reasoning”.
The UFT and CSA lawsuit, which was filed on May 7, contended that the “turnaround” process was not, in fact, a closing of schools. Instead, the suit argued that simply giving a school a new name and identification number did not make a new school.
“[Turnarounds] are not really closures and therefore the DOE cannot use contractual procedures that apply to closures,” Adam Ross, an attorney for the UFT, said during a press conference held at the filing.