Tension mounted between New York City’s Department of Education (DOE) and its pissed off parents and teachers as a judge granted a restraining order to temporarily hold off millions of dollars in cuts to schools budgets last week Friday.
On July 18, two teachers and two parents jointly filed a lawsuit against the DOE and Schools Chancellor David Banks demanding an injunction to halt the $215 million budget cuts to public schools planned for next year and for the city council to re-vote on the budget.
The City Council voted to adopt the budget on June 13, 10 days before the Board voted on June 23, 2022. In the lawsuit the plaintiffs state that the standard process, Panel for Educational Policy (PEP), was not followed and that properly informed city councilmembers would vote differently given the chance. Many council members have gone on record saying they regret saying yes to the current budget.
Judge Lyle Frank of the New York State Supreme Court ruled in favor of the parents and teachers in the lawsuit.
Laura Barbieri, the attorney from Advocates for Justice who is handling the case pro bono on behalf of four parents and teacher plaintiffs, said she was “pleased” so far with Judge Frank’s ruling. She said that they hope to win and are heartened that the courts saw the merit in their arguments.
“We continue to believe that the cuts are causing irreparable harm to students and teachers. We hope to win this case on the merits, as the cuts were enacted in a manner that clearly violates state law,” said Barbieri.
Additionally, groups such as Citizens Action Now are circulating a petition demanding that Mayor Eric Adams fully fund schools and restore the education cuts.
The judge is hearing both sides as they are filing papers and submitting arguments this week Monday and Tuesday.
“Today, the city filed papers asking the court to vacate the restraining order. We will wait until the court responds before saying more, but make no mistake, the budget was duly adopted by the City Council and is in accordance with all charter mandated protocols,” said Deputy Press Secretary for the Mayor’s Office Amaris Cockfield. “We hope the court will grant the city’s application expeditiously so that our schools can continue the necessary work in preparation for September.”
On Wednesday, July 27, said Barbieri, Judge Frank rejected the City’s request to vacate his restraining order. Any further cuts to school budgets will continue to be blocked until the next hearing.
The case will resume in court Aug. 4 at 10 a.m.
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w