NYSUT sues state over teacher improvement plans

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New York State United Teachers has filed a lawsuit saying that the New York State Education Department's actions on teacher improvement plans violate teachers' collective bargaining rights.

The suit was filed Jan. 26 in the New York Supreme Court on behalf of four teachers and six local teachers' unions. It charges that the education department violated the Taylor Law (which governs public employee contracts and negotiations) by illegally taking teacher improvement plans, which had previously been bargained, into the realm of management prerogative.

In addition, the NYSUT suit alleges that, by empowering the State Education Department to make "corrective action" on previously approved teacher evaluation plans, the state is infringing on existing, binding legal contracts negotiated between local teachers unions and school districts.

The department's actions are "inconsistent with the Taylor Law, which establishes that all teacher evaluation and disciplinary procedures are mandatorily negotiable," the suit alleges.

Says NYSUT President Karen E. Magee, who is an AFT vice president, "As this lawsuit clearly demonstrates, NYSUT will continue to fiercely defend the collective bargaining rights of each and every one of its members and local unions against any encroachment."

Adds NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino, also an AFT vice president, "NYSUT is committed to an evaluation system that is fair and meaningful, and which helps our already excellent teaching force grow even stronger. We will continue to fight against over-testing and to ensure that New York teachers—and their unions—are integral to any change through a robust collective bargaining process. Make no mistake, our advocacy on behalf of members will continue until the state's test-and-punish era is forever swept into the dustbin of history."

[NYSUT media relations]