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Hiring halted in turnaround schools as legal battle takes shape

Responding to a lawsuit filed by the city teachers and principals unions on Monday, the Department of Education pledged today not to make any hiring decisions about 24 schools slated for “turnaround” for at least a week.

Under the turnaround process the city is trying to use, all of the teachers at the schools would be “excessed” and then at least half — but very likely more — would be hired back by a committee of administrators and union representatives. After the city school board approved the turnarounds late last month, the city planned to convene the committees quickly and set them to work.

But under a stipulation agreement registered today in State Supreme Court, the department said it would refrain from telling teachers at the 24 schools that they had been cut loose — or rehired. The committees will begin considering candidates but can make no offers until after a judge rules on the unions’ lawsuit, which charges that the turnaround process violates their contracts with the city.

According to the agreement, the department must respond to the unions’ claims by Friday. Then the unions will respond to the department’s defense by the end of the day on May 15 before the two sides argue their cases before a judge the following day.

A teachers union official said the timeline had been accelerated both because the unions and city wanted the suit resolved quickly and in order to accommodate the schedule of the judge assigned to the case, Joan Lobis. Lobis is the Supreme Court justice who in 2010 ruled in the UFT’s favor in the first round of an ultimately successful lawsuit to halt 19 school closures.

The complete stipulation agreement between the city and the unions is below.

Supreme Court of the State Of New York County of New York Stipulation

Index # 600002/2012
May 8, 2012

Michael Mulgrew et al.
v.
Board of Education et al.

It is hereby stipulated and agreed by and between the below-named attorney(s) as follows:

Parties agree to the following briefing schedule:

1) Respondents serve response to petition May 11, 2012;
2) Petitioners respond May 15 (close-of-business);
3) Oral argument May 16, 2012 at 3:00 p.m.

Parties agree that pending oral argument May 16, 2012, Respondents (or any member of an 18D committee) will not make or further communicate any hiring decisions in connection with the 24 subject schools, except as provided below.

This includes any decision or communication that any employee represented by UFT or CSA has been excessed or hired.

As to a May 7, 2012 letter, Respondents will use best efforts to ensure no dissemination.

As to John Adams H.S., Respondents may name a proposed new leader for purposes of the 18D committee only.

Signed:
Judge Joan B. Lobis
Attorneys for Plaintiff
Attorneys for Defendant

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