After months of uncertainty, State Supreme Court Judge Joan Lobis ruled in favor of the 3,000 teachers whose jobs hung in the balance after 24 New York City schools were set to shutdown and reopen under a set of federal guidelines.
The judge stated that school closures violate union contracts, according to NY1.
With school starting in a little over a month, the United Federation of Teachers is pleased with the decision, which holds up a decision made by an arbitrator earlier.
The arbitrator reversed the Department of Education’s plan to fire teachers and force them to reapply for their jobs as a part of the turnaround program process.
Officials running the turnaround program mandated that schools would receive millions in federal funding if half of the teachers were let go and the schools changed their names to reflect a new identity.
John Dewey High School was one of the schools slated for re-branding, despite public protests to keep the staff on board. It would have reopened as the Shorefront High School of Arts and Sciences at John Dewey Campus.
“They’ve now lost at the arbitration level. They’ve lost at the Supreme Court. We would like to get to the business of staffing these schools and be ready for the opening of school in September,” said Adam Ross, legal counsel for the United Federation of Teachers.
Because teachers were expecting to lose their jobs, they applied at other schools across the city. Now that they may have their old jobs back, they are forced to reconsider, creating a chaotic staffing process for the quickly approaching first day of school.
Without a curriculum or assurance, teachers are feeling the pressure.
“All of this is unsettling on every level, for teachers and students,” said a Dewey teacher who wished to remain anonymous to the Home Reporter News. “Teachers are left with a disgusted feeling. We’re still emotionally traumatized by the whole thing… Students were victimized, going around feeling terrible about what happened. Everybody doesn’t feel like justice and common decency is in place here.”
UFT members in the 24 schools could should expect one of two letters in the mail from the DOE. One letter is for teachers who applied to transfer to another school and the other is for those who have not. The survey attached to letter is meant to confirm staff placement.
“From day one, we said that the DOE was wrong and that we were going to fight them on their misinterpretation of articles 17 and 18D of our contract. The DOE has attempted to sow confusion about the future of these schools, but the options are all yours: to remain in your school or to transfer. It’s up to you,” writes UFT President Michael Mulgrew.
It is unclear how many of the 3,000 teachers will return to the schools that were once willing to let them go.