Thursday, December 30, 2010

Deny Waiver Coalition Response

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Norman Siegel (Attorney)          347-907-0867
Mona Davids                                 917-340-8987
Noah E. Gotbaum                          917-658-3213
LupĂ© Todd (for Asm. Jeffries)      917-202-0116

Parents Vow To Continue Fight For Quality Education In NYC
Albany Supreme Court Judge Sides With Education Commissioner;
Rejects Challenge To Steiner-Black Waiver

On Wednesday, December 29, Judge Gerald Connolly of the Albany County Supreme Court denied the petitions submitted on behalf of 13 parent Petitioners and one teacher challenging New York State Education Commissioner David Steiner's waiver of employment requirements for Cathleen Black so she could assume the office of Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education. 
The Petitioners, including New York State Assemblymember Hakeem Jeffries (D-57) and members of the Deny Waiver Coalition, contend that Ms. Black does not have the qualifications necessary under New York State law to oversee the educational system that serves their children and, furthermore, that Commissioner Steiner misinterpreted State law and exceeded his authority in granting the waiver to Ms. Black.

Attorney Norman Siegel, representing the 14 Petitioners, stated the following:  "We are disappointed with the Court's decision.  We believed that there would be a different outcome and that Ms. Black's waiver would not be allowed to stand.  I will be consulting with the parents and teacher to determine their next step." 

Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, a parent Petitioner, said, "The decision by Judge Connolly is extremely disappointing but we will not throw in the towel with respect to the effort to improve our public schools system. Cathie Black remains unqualified to be chancellor. We will make a determination about whether to appeal shortly."

Parent Petitioner Mona Davids said, "I am disappointed in Judge Connolly's decision but not surprised.  The decision to grant a waiver to Black who is clearly unqualified shows our children that it's not what you know but who you know. The appointment of unqualified Black has served as a catalyst to mobilize parents throughout the city to fight for a quality education for our children."

Noah E. Gotbaum, parent Petitioner, stated, "This case is just the beginning of the movement of parents and educators to fight for our 1.1 million kids and to stand up against the current business model of education and its constituency of out-of-touch billionaires."

Teacher Petitioner Julie Cavanagh was unhappy with the decision.  "I am saddened by the decision handed down today, but I am inspired by the brave parents, educators and citizens who stood up and fought for justice and for their voice to be heard. I stand firm in the beliefs held by the Deny Waiver Coalition; our children deserve a qualified Chancellor with the education credentials the law requires."

Parent Petitioner Patricia Connelly said, "While I am profoundly disappointed with today's decision by Judge Connolly, I for one am not ready to let this illegal and immoral waiver stand.  I join my fellow petitioners in demanding that the public be restored to our rightful place at the table in protecting and promoting a truly democratic public education system here in New York City."

Parent Petitioner Shino Tanikawa, said, "I am deeply disappointed and puzzled by Judge Connolly's decision.  However, I am, along with the others, determined to continue fighting for what is right."

Chris Owens, a parent Petitioner, expressed his frustration with the perspective of Commissioner Steiner and the Court.  "Unfortunately, this judge ignored the true intent of the Education Law - to protect the quality and integrity of education management in New York State.  Given the current state of our streets, I am uncomfortable with someone who only has management credentials handling this City's education storm and the future of my two sons."

Ms. Black was nominated by Mayor Bloomberg on November 9, 2010 to succeed outgoing Chancellor Joel Klein.  Commissioner Steiner granted the waiver on November 29.

Attorneys Norman Siegel and Herbert Teitelbaum, representing the 14 Petitioners, were joined by attorneys Roger Wareham and Eric Snyder, each representing additional New York City public school parents who are also challenging the Steiner waiver.  Three separate Article 78 petitions challenging the waiver had been filed and were consolidated during the court hearing.

Parent Petitioners were Assemblyman Jeffries (Brooklyn), Hon. Chris Owens (Brooklyn), Ms. Mona Davids (Bronx), Mr. Noah Gotbaum (Manhattan), Ms. Khem Irby (Brooklyn), Ms. Lydia Bellahcene (Brooklyn), Ms. Patricia Connelly (Brooklyn), Ms. Monica Ayuso (Queens), Ms. Mariama Sanoh (Manhattan), Mr. John Battis (Brooklyn), Ms. Latrina Miley (Manhattan), Ms. Shino Tanikawa-Oglesby (Manhattan) and Ms. Maria Farano-Rodriguez (Staten Island), as well as teacher Petitioner Julie Cavanagh (Brooklyn).

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Visit the Deny Waiver Coalition website:

The DENY WAIVER COALITION ("DWC") is an association of public school parents and educators as well as concerned community leaders opposed to granting a waiver of employment qualifications to Ms. Cathleen Black, the proposed Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education.  The DWC also supports improvements to the Chancellor selection process.

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