Thursday, October 23, 2014

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Albany Legally Blocked From Cutting $250M From City DOE Budget

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TWC News: Albany Legally Blocked From Cutting $250M From City DOE Budget
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A state supreme court judge issued a temporary injunction Thursday preventing state officials from cutting $250 million from the city Department Of Education budget for the current school year as punishment for the lack of a teacher evaluation system.

Governor Andrew Cuomo originally said that the city DOE lost the funding for failing to reach an agreement with the United Federation of Teachers on evaluations by January 17.

City officials argued that removing the money would hurt students.

Civil Court Judge Miguel Mendez granted a preliminary injunction, saying the city has shown cause that students and vital programs will be harmed.

There is no word on when a hearing on the matter will take.

It is also not known whether the state will appeal the ruling.

"Basically, any system that says that adults have to agree on everything before kids get resources is a system that has a deep, deep flaw," said Chris Owens, a plaintiff in the case.

"We will fight them tooth and nail in order to make sure that the state of New York, via the Commissioner of Education, John King, does not withhold our money from our children," said City Councilman Robert Jackson of Manhattan.

City Hall released a statement that reads, in part, that "students should not be penalized for the UFT’s failure to negotiate."

A UFT spokesperson said that if the mayor hadn't "blown up the negotiations," an evaluation system would be in place, not a lawsuit.

The State Education Department refused to comment on the ruling.

The ruling came a day after the Cuomo administration announced that the state education commissioner will set a new teacher evaluation system for city public school educators by June 1, if city officials and the teachers union cannot reach an agreement by then.

Cuomo wants to introduce a state budget amendment bill that will give the state education commissioner the perpetual power to step in and impose a teacher evaluation system on the city.

The governor said the school could risk losing another $250 million if the city DOE does not have an evaluation system in place by September.

A spokesperson for Governor Cuomo called the decision a "preliminary injunction" and said the state plans to appeal.

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