NYS Exposed Education: Lawsuit filed over teacher certification change for charters

October 16, 2017 11:28 PM

Last week, in our New York State Exposed report, the Board of Regents warned that a lawsuit was coming after SUNY approved the rule change allowing some charter school to side-step the state's teacher certification process. And that's exactly what happened.

"When something that destructive happens, then those that have the authority and the resources to challenge it, should challenge it," says Adam Urbanski, NYSUT district director.

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The challenge comes from the state's top two teachers unions: New York State United Teachers and the United Federation of Teachers. Adam Urbanski is the NYSUT representative for our area.

He says, "Our hope is that the courts will reverse this as a discriminatory law."

The new law allows certain charter schools to certify their own teachers with as little as one week of classroom experience. The union's lawsuit claims it breaks New York's Charter School Act, which requires all public school teachers meet the same requirements.

"How ridiculous is it to make the argument that the way to make schools better is to lower standards for teaching?" questions Urbanski.

"Every school in the Rochester Public School system has certified teachers," says Jason Zwara, New York policy manager for Northeast Charter Network. "They've all gone through this existing certification process and the results speak for themselves."

Charter advocates say the change is about flexibility for hiring teachers. They say SUNY is working within their power to help their charter schools meet the needs of their students.

"These schools have figured out what does work and they're finding ways to identifying teacher candidates that will perform," says Zwara.

In the lawsuit, the union says creating a new teacher certification system is not within SUNY's power to change regulations concerning "governance, structure or operations."

"It implies that charter schools can have lower standards for teachers than public schools and that doesn't make sense," says Urbanski. "Because kids -- students are students whether they're in public schools or charter schools."

The lawsuit was filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan. News10NBC will track any developments in the case.


Jennifer Mobilia

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