Advocates for Justice filed initial papers this week for a civil lawsuit against Mayor Michael Bloomberg on behalf of all New York City public school parents. The group is charging the mayor is with “misfeasance of office” in his appointment of Cathie Black as schools chancellor, claiming that her appointment damaged the education of public school children.
Fourteen claimant parents, along with the newly formed New York City Parents Union, are requesting $100 million in compensatory damages from Bloomberg personally, as he is the individual held accountable under New York State’s education law for the performance of the public education system. They are also demanding a public apology from the mayor for his handling of Black’s appointment and her brief tenure in office.
Bloomberg appointed Black as schools chancellor late last year amid harsh criticism over her lack of experience in education, having served only in the business world. Black resigned from her post in March after just three months on the job, leading the appointment of current chancellor Dennis Walcott.
The parents want Bloomberg to place $100 million of his own money–or approximately $1 million for every day of Black’s nearly 100-day tenure–into a fund to be used exclusively for the training and development of teachers and supervisors as compensation for the damage to the morale and performance of staff and teachers, which impaired students’ education.
“This mayor has bought three elections, including a third term in office! The political process has not provided recourse for concerned parents because the mayoral elections have been corrupted by the power of money,” said Advocates for Justice Executive Director Chris Owens. “The mayor owes this city and he has the means to compensate our public education system for a portion of the harm that he inflicted upon it.”
Mona Davids has a daughter at a charter school in Bronx and is a founder of the New York City Parents Union. She described Bloomberg’s behavior as corrupt, sending a bad message to students.
“Outside of New York City, when an elected official appoints a friend, family member or crony with no relevant experience to a high profile job, it is called ‘graft’ and an abuse of power,” said Davids. “Mayor Bloomberg’s appointment of his friend, Cathie Black, without first conducting a national search or ensuring that she had the qualifications to lead the nation’s largest school system, was pure corruption and disrespectful to New York City parents, students and educators.”