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Union files suit to stop release of individual teacher ratings

The city’s teachers union filed suit this morning, asking the State Supreme Court to bar the city from releasing 12,000 teachers’ effectiveness scores with their names included.

Department of Education officials said yesterday that they planned to send the teacher ratings to reporters as soon as this Friday, unless the union’s suit stops them. Several news organizations filed Freedom of Information Law requests for the data, and city officials said they were responding to these requests.

Union officials are currently in court and expect a judge to rule on their suit later today.

Underpinning the United Federation of Teachers’ lawsuit is the claim that releasing teachers’ ratings with their names included is an unlawful invasion of privacy.

“Teachers will be exposed to harassment on a personal and professional level from parents unhappy with the contents of the TDRs,” the suit states. “Such harassment could include demands for termination, discipline, and transfer of children out of teachers’ classrooms, as well as threats to the persons of individual teachers.”

The suit also states that the Department of Education should have denied reporters’ FOIL requests because the teachers’ ratings are exempt from disclosure. They are “non-final, subjective, deliberative, consultative inter-agency materials,” the suit says. “TDRs, as they presently exist, are unreliable, often incorrect, subjective analyses dressed up as scientific facts…”

To support this claim, the union’s suit gives several examples of teacher data reports that incorrectly classified students, or included the wrong students’ test scores. In one case study cited in the lawsuit, a teacher’s report factored in the test scores of 27 students the person never taught.

At a press conference this afternoon, union president Michael Mulgrew said that releasing the ratings would only confuse parents.

“We have invalid test scores, going into an unreliable formula, which equals a bad result,” Mulgrew said. “And that’s the information the chancellor of New York City has broken his word and said he will release to parents. To once again mislead them, just as he did with the test scores for years.”

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