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Union vows to appeal judge’s teacher rating decision

Teachers needn’t check tomorrow’s newspapers for their names and ratings. Fresh off its loss in the State Supreme Court today, the teachers union announced plans to appeal a judge’s decision allowing the city to release the scores and names to reporters.

Earlier today, Justice Cynthia Kern ruled that the union had not made a convincing case that the city’s decision to release the ratings with names attached was “arbitrary and capricious.”

In a nine-page decision, Kern wrote that the Department of Education’s decision to release the data was reasonable because it the Teacher Data Reports (TDRs) are statistical, not subjective. She wrote:

The UFT’s argument that the data reflected in the TDRs should not be released because the TDRs are so flawed and unreliable as to be subjective is without merit. The Court of Appeals has clearly held that there is no requirement that data be reliable for it to be disclosed.

Kern also tossed out the union’s privacy argument, saying that effectiveness ratings (unlike teachers’ email addresses or social security numbers) are a type of information related to job performance, which the public has a right to see.

Courts have repeatedly held that release of job-performance related information, even negative information such as that involving misconduct, does not constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy.

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew reiterated union lawyers’ arguments in a statement on the ruling.

We are disappointed that Justice Kern, citing a Court of Appeals decision that found that there is no requirement that data be reliable for it to be disclosed, has determined that the Department of Education can release Teacher Data Reports with teachers’ names attached, despite the DOE’s written pledges not do so, he said. We intend to appeal as soon as possible, and will be asking the Appellate Division, First Department, to halt any release pending their review of Justice Kern’s decision.