This is from Class Size Matters Executive Director Leonie Haimson:
Yesterday, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of four parents and teachers in the NY Supreme Court by the pro bono law firm, Advocates for Justice, to halt the Mayor's damaging budget cuts to schools and require that the City Council have another opportunity to vote on the education budget. Here is a press release with more detail and quotes from the plaintiffs; and here are the legal documents. If you’re going to read only one of them perhaps the shortest one that also outlines many aspects of the case is my affidavit.
In essence, the lawsuit is based on serious procedural errors committed by the Mayor and Chancellor, including by allowing the City Council to approve the entire city budget ten days before the Panel for Educational Policy held a hearing and voted on the education budget, which state law requires must happen first.
Instead, the Chancellor declared an emergency and sent the diminished funds to schools weeks earlier before the Council or the PEP had a chance to vote. In this way, he attempted to short circuit the legally mandated process. The attorney Laura Barbieri and her team found that in twelve out of the last thirteen years, three different Chancellors have invoked the same bogus "emergency" with the same boilerplate language – each time without explaining how an actual emergency existed. The Daily News, AM New York, Chalkbeat, and NY Post reported on the lawsuit, among other outlets, in varying levels of detail and objectivity.
Even earlier in the day, there was a rally to protest the cuts in front of Tweed, organized by the Progressive Caucus of the NYC Council, at which many parents, advocates and Council Members spoke about the havoc these cuts would cause to schools and students' lives. Five of the members who had voted to approve the budget said they very much regretted their votes, apologized, and said their actions would be different moving forward: CMs Shahana Hanif, Lincoln Restler, Jennifer Guttierez, Shekar Krishnan and Carmen de la Rosa. CM Alexa Aviles who was one of only six members who initially voted against the budget was also there and explained why she had been so passionately opposed to these cuts. A video of this rally is posted on my blog here. These CMs are demanding the Mayor withdraw these cuts by Aug. 1. Later in the afternoon, the Mayor claimed that his devastating cuts were only a “rumor”, in an encounter with parents also described on the blog.
In any case, we expect that the court will schedule a hearing on the lawsuit soon, as the attorneys are asking for an immediate temporary restraining order to stop the cuts from going forward while the substance of the case can be argued. I’ll let you know of further legal developments as they occur.
We totally support Leonie, the parents, the teacher, and the Advocates for Justice. I would happily sign on to the suit. I don't think I am alone there.
I have one important question:
Why is the UFT not involved in this lawsuit or the protests?
The UFT Delegate Assembly passed a resolution last year on lowering class size. The budget cuts will certainly have a negative impact on class size. This is what the UFT DA said in November concerning a class size bill that was before the City Council:
Note it says the UFT will lobby for more funding sources and the Union is open to possible litigation. We also were going to support related state legislation.
That state legislation to lower class sizes in New York City easily carried in the State Legislature but has not been signed yet by Governor Hochul.
Where is the UFT push to put the lower class size bill over the finish line? Where are the rallies, the press conferences, the tweetstorms, the campaign to pressure Hochul to sign the bill or to get the Legislature to override her?
Why isn't the UFT at the very least leading the protests to reverse the budget cuts?
Perhaps the UFT was too busy reelecting Michael Mulgrew and Randi Weingarten at the AFT Convention in Boston to get involved with what's happening back home.
Or, maybe the UFT is too timid to take on corporate Democrats such as Governor Hochul or Mayor Adams publicly.
The UFT siding with corporate Democrats over progressives will have real-world consequences on school budgets and class sizes.