Saturday, July 11, 2015


The Public Advocate Letitia James and the group Class Size Matters were in court at the Appellate Division yesterday as the Carmen Farina led Department of Education is appealing a court ruling saying that School Leadership Team meetings are subject to open meetings law, meaning they have to be open to the public.

Here is some of what came from the NYC Public School Parents Blog on the case.

On April 16, 2015, Justice Peter H. Moulton of the State Supreme Court concluded in the case of Michael Thomas v. NYC Department of Education that the DOE's decision to close these meetings to the public was "arbitrary and capricious and contrary to law."  Thomas, a retired teacher, had been prevented from attending an SLT meeting on Staten Island, and had sued the DOE.  The Public Advocate and Class Size Matters subsequently intervened in the case as petitioners on the side of Mr. Thomas.

Justice Moulton's decision for the petitioners and against the DOE was emphatic, based upon state law and Commissioner's decisions that clearly demonstrate that SLTs are public bodies, have an important role to play in school governance, and thus are subject to open meetings law.  State law and Chancellors regulations even require that notice of all SLT meetings shall be made in a manner "consistent with the open meetings law."  As Justice Mounton concluded, "The proper functioning of public schools is a public concern, not a private concern limited to the families who attend a given public school."

Yet following this decision, the DOE sent a message to principals on June 9, 2015, ordering them to close these meetings to the press and general public while their appeal of this decision could be heard.

Where in the heck was and is the United Federation of Teachers on this case?

Is the UFT backing the Public Advocate, Class Size Matters and the retired teacher or have we decided to sit another one out so as not to embarrass our friend the Chancellor?

Can somebody please help me here as I was not a Delegate last school year so maybe something went by me?  If the UFT is supporting the parent, Class Size Matter and the Public Advocate, we would like to acknowledge it by updating this post.

Back in 2008, the UFT Delegate Assembly unanimously voted for a motion I introduced calling for the UFT to join an appeal of a parent to the State Education Commissioner claiming School Leadership Teams are decision-making bodies.  We won the case with the State Education Commissioner.

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