Friday, May 25, 2012

On Closing 24 Schools: NY State Supreme Court Judge Lobis Orders Arbitration

Judge urges city, unions into arbitration in turnaround dispute
Posted By Rachel Cromidas On May 16, 2012 @ 7:22 pm In Newsroom | 21 Comments
The first court appearance in the union lawsuit to halt hiring decisions at 24 turnaround schools ended with the judge telling the city and unions to resolve their dispute out of court.
Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Joan Lobis urged the city and teachers and principals unions to resolve their contractual disputes through arbitration, rather than litigation. If the two sides would agree to let an independent arbitrator hear their case, then she would not need to rule on the unions’ request for an injunction to halt hiring at the schools.
Union and city lawyers both said they wanted to resolve the dispute quickly because schools would be harmed if hiring decisions are not well before the end of the school year.
“If you’re both saying you need the arbitrator as soon as possible, an injunction would not be necessary,” Lobis said. “If what you’re saying is really sincere, then you’ll get it to the arbitrator as quickly as possible.”
After conferring this afternoon, city and union lawyers accepted Lobis’s suggestion. The two sides are meeting tonight to select an arbitrator and meeting dates, with the goal of resolving the legal questions about teacher and principal staffing at the turnaround schools by early June.
If they agree on an arbitrator, the city plans to continue laying the groundwork for rehiring at the schools. But it would hold back from finalizing any personnel decisions until an arbitrator is agreed upon or the matter returns to court.
Still open for dispute is the question of whether there will be one arbitrator to review both the United Federation of Teachers’s case and the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators case (the unions’ preference), or if two arbitrators will review each case individually (the city’s preference).
The city and teachers union have not had good luck letting a third party referee unrelated disputes in the recent past. After negotiations over teacher evaluations broke down in December, the union asked for a third party to step in. The city has resisted entering mediation even as the state’s labor relations board has twice ordered a mediator to step in.
A teacher from Long Island City High School who listened in on the hearing said the turnaround schools will be harmed regardless of the lawsuit’s outcome. “It’s like they’re pushing Humpty Dumpty off a wall,” the teacher said. “You will have a lot of trouble putting [the schools] back together again.”

Article printed from GothamSchools:
URL to article:
URLs in this post:
[1] Hiring halted in turnaround schools as legal battle takes shape:
[2] Principals union chief urges state to reject city’s turnaround bid:
[3] On D.C. stage, Weingarten urges officials to work with unions:
[4] De Blasio urges city not to pass the buck on teacher evaluations:
[5] Turnaround schools’ job postings offer window into city’s plans:

Hiring halted in turnaround schools as legal battle takes shape

Responding to a lawsuit filed by the city teachers and principals unions on Monday, the Department of Education pledged today not to make any hiring decisions about 24 schools slated for “turnaround” for at least a week.
Under the turnaround process the city is trying to use, all of the teachers at the schools would be “excessed” and then at least half — but very likely more — would be hired back by a committee of administrators and union representatives. After the city school board approved the turnarounds late last month, the city planned to convene the committees quickly and set them to work.
But under a stipulation agreement registered today in State Supreme Court, the department said it would refrain from telling teachers at the 24 schools that they had been cut loose — or rehired. The committees will begin considering candidates but can make no offers until after a judge rules on the unions’ lawsuit, which charges that the turnaround process violates their contracts with the city.
According to the agreement, the department must respond to the unions’ claims by Friday. Then the unions will respond to the department’s defense by the end of the day on May 15 before the two sides argue their cases before a judge the following day.
A teachers union official said the timeline had been accelerated both because the unions and city wanted the suit resolved quickly and in order to accommodate the schedule of the judge assigned to the case, Joan Lobis. Lobis is the Supreme Court justice who in 2010 ruled in the UFT’s favor in the first round of an ultimately successful lawsuit to halt 19 school closures.
The complete stipulation agreement between the city and the unions is below.
Supreme Court of the State Of New York County of New York Stipulation
Index # 600002/2012
May 8, 2012
Michael Mulgrew et al.v.Board of Education et al. 
It is hereby stipulated and agreed by and between the below-named attorney(s) as follows:
Parties agree to the following briefing schedule:
1)      Respondents serve response to petition May 11, 2012;
2)      Petitioners respond May 15 (close-of-business);
3)      Oral argument May 16, 2012 at 3:00 p.m.
Parties agree that pending oral argument May 16, 2012, Respondents (or any member of an 18D committee) will not make or further communicate any hiring decisions in connection with the 24 subject schools, except as provided below.
This includes any decision or communication that any employee represented by UFT or CSA has been excessed or hired.
As to a May 7, 2012 letter, Respondents will use best efforts to ensure no dissemination.
As to John Adams H.S., Respondents may name a proposed new leader for purposes of the 18D committee only.
Judge Joan B. Lobis
Attorneys for Plaintiff
Attorneys for Defendant

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