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New York City Wins Round in Class-Size Lawsuit

A lawsuit claiming the city misused millions of dollars in state money earmarked to reduce class size was dismissed recently by an appeals court, The New York Times reports.

Because the appeals court made a unanimous ruling, the article states, it’s unlikely the union will appeal, but rather will put pressure on the state’s education commissioner to hold the city accountable for recently rising class sizes.New York education law attorneys know their are many factors that go into whether a student is treated fairly, or whether teachers’ rights are violated in the workplace. Every student in a public school deserves an equal education, regardless of where they live. And they have a right to reduced class sizes, which can aid in their learning.

According to The Times, the suit was brought by the United Federation of Teachers, other unions and community groups, that questioned how more than $760 million in state funds allocated to the city had been spent. The money resulted from a measure passed by the State Legislature in 2007 after a court ruled that New York City schoolchildren were being deprived of their constitutional right to a sound, basic education, in part because of excessively crowded classes.

And despite the new money, and a decline in student enrollment citywide, class sizes had increased in recent years, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in State Supreme Court in the Bronx.

Average class sizes have increased since 2008, education officials acknowledge, but that is because of budget cuts, which have hit even as teacher salaries rise. Compounding matters, the amount of money provided by the state under the law, which is supposed to increase each year, was frozen in 2010, meaning that additional teachers could not be hired.

Due to budget cuts, the full amount of money for class-size reduction never materialized. And a former state commissioner, David M. Steiner, excused the city from class size reduction targets in all but 75 schools.

According to a five-year plan, by 2012 the city was supposed to reduce class sizes in kindergarten through the third grade classes to an average of fewer than 20 students from 21; in middle grades to 23 students from nearly 26; and in classes of core high school subjects to 24.5 students from 26.6.

Most people consider discrimination matters that occur in the workplace, such as based on race, age, national origin, gender, sexual orientation or disability. It can also apply to those seeking public housing, lines of credit and public accommodations, such as in restaurants, hotels and other facilities.

But discrimination can happen to our schoolchildren as well. Those who grow up in one part of the city shouldn’t be subjected to larger class sizes, less-qualified teachers and more run-down facilities compared to children who are from a different part of town.

These injustices happen and they must be challenged. And often it requires the determination of a New York City education rights attorney who knows the law and has the experience to see that what is right and good for our children be done.

The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman provides criminal defense in New York City, Long Island, Great Neck and throughout the area. Call 516-487-7375 or contact us through the website.

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Class Action Lawsuit May Continue Against NYC Over NYPD Checkpoints: July 18, 2011
Brooklyn Man Thrown Off Flight For Cursing Considers Civil Rights Lawsuit: June 20, 2011
Additional Resources:

City Wins Appeal of Law Suit Over Class Size, By Sharon Otterman, The New York Times