City to pay biggest settlement ever to New York teachers affected by ‘discriminatory’ certification tests
A massive decades-long lawsuit against New York City for the use of two teaching certification tests is coming to an end, with nearly $ 660 million in damages awarded to plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit.
The lawsuit claimed the tests discriminated against black and Latino teachers and prevented them from achieving their seniority, salary and benefits.
The city could further be held liable for hundreds of millions of additional dollars in damages yet to be determined, with a maximum payment estimated at around $ 1.8 billion for the 4,700 plaintiffs in the Gulino v Board of Education – in what city officials say the highest amount of damages New York City has ever paid.
In 1996, three teachers filed a lawsuit against the city and state education departments, claiming that the mandatory certification tests – the National Teacher Examination (NTE) and its successor the Liberal Arts & Sciences Test (LAST) – had a “disparate impact on Africans.” -American and Latino candidates.
White applicants passed the tests 83.7% of the time, while black applicants passed 43.9% and Latino applicants passed 40.3% of the time, according to the complaint.
Whatever subject a New York City teacher taught, whether it was preschool, special education, or athletics, he had to pass these certification tests, which have been described as covering ” scientific, mathematical and technological processes; historical and social scientific awareness; artistic expression and human sciences; communication and research skills; and written analysis and expression.
âThe test obviously did not test anything relevant to the jobs people were doing or for which they were hired. But the city has used it in many cases to demote people, âsaid Joshua Sohn, lead counsel for the plaintiffs.
Teachers who failed were paid less, were denied full board and many were relegated to replacement status, according to a brief filed with the second appeal circuit in 2007: âEven though they didn’t ‘Never achieved a passing grade on LAST, many teachers continued to teach full-time in city schools for many years, albeit at much lower salaries than their certified colleagues. And the teachers who ultimately achieved a passing grade remained at a much lower salary level than their colleagues with equivalent seniority in the city’s school system. In practice, therefore, the City and State have used LAST not to determine whether teachers should be allowed to teach, but rather to determine their level of remuneration and benefits.
The state stopped requiring testing as part of the teacher certification process after a district court found that the LAST had not been properly validated.
“It is time to bring this long-standing case to a close and we are pleased that the parties have agreed on a payment schedule,” Nicholas Paolucci, spokesperson for the city’s legal department, said in a statement. The damages are based on arrears calculations, he said.
First-round judgments of nearly 350 plaintiffs were finalized in mid-September after the city refused to appeal; now the plaintiffs will undergo individual hearings to determine specific damages, Sohn said.
The state was unsuccessful in the lawsuit in 2006, leaving the city solely responsible as an employer under federal discrimination laws. Still, city officials said the tests were developed by the state, which then required New York City to administer these certification tests or “it would have faced enforcement action from the state. and would have lost billions of dollars in public education funding. (The city) had no choice but to comply with the state certification requirement, âaccording to the legal department.
The impact of these tests meant that “generations of black and brown teachers in New York City public schools have been kind of denied entry to the profession,” Sohn said.
Teachers who never passed the certification tests “have been sort of per diem teachers for the last 20 years, you know – they make exponentially less money and they don’t get benefits, they don’t. health insurance, no pensions, nothing from the city, but they still teach more or less full time, âSohn added. “And others who wanted to be teachers all their lives found they couldn’t do it and had to change careers.”