clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

State Attorney General wants two teacher tenure lawsuits to become one

After running alongside each other for weeks, the two separate lawsuits challenging teacher tenure in New York could be combined early next month.

The motion was filed on August 7 without much fanfare, around the time the teacher tenure debate had reached a fever pitch, with attention from Stephen Colbert, Whoopi Goldberg, and a hashtag or two.

One of the cases, Davids vs. New York, initially claimed that teacher tenure laws prevented the state from providing equal access to a sound education for all students, particularly poor and minority students. On July 24, three weeks after its initial filing, the plaintiffs changed their argument, abandoning the equal access claim. Without it, the lawsuit more closely resembled Wright vs. New York, spearheaded by news-anchorturnededucationactivist Campbell Brown.

The attorney general’s office writes in the filing—first reported by columnist Michael Benjamin—that the request was made “to avoid the possibility of conflicting findings” and because the two suits “involve the same legal and factual issues and seek the same relief.” The attorney general’s did not provide further comment.

If approved, the case will be heard in Staten Island, not Albany, where Brown’s case, Wright vs. NY, was filed. It would also presumably reduce the need for two legal teams, both of which got high-powered additions this month.

Sam Pirozzolo, a plaintiff in the Davids case, said he’s not concerned about the potential combination.

“I have a goal,” Pirozzolo said. “It’s improving the educational outcomes for the students in New York.”

The motion to combine the suits will be heard in the Staten Island court on Sept. 3, the same day that the United Federation of Teachers’ motion to intervene in the Davids case will be heard.

“In the event the two cases do get consolidated, we of course look forward to working with the other plaintiffs,” said an attorney from the law firm handling the Wright case, Kirkland & Ellis. “We obviously have a common goal in sight.”

The COVID-19 outbreak is changing our daily reality

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit newsroom dedicated to providing the information families and educators need, but this kind of work isn't possible without your help.

Sign up for the newsletter Chalkbeat New York

Sign up for our newsletter.