Turnaround teachers back to work

| brennison@queenscourier.com |

The city, winless in its court battles over Turnaround schools, plans to continue its fight after another loss, just weeks away from classes commencing.

State Supreme Court Justice Joan Lobis upheld an arbitrator’s ruling that deemed the Department of Education’s Turnaround plan violated teachers’ contracts, allowing the educators to return to the classroom.

Under the plan, the city would have removed more than 3,500 educators from the struggling schools and had them reapply for jobs at the institutions, which would reopen under new names.

“The mayor and [Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott] will not allow failing schools to deprive our students of the high-quality education they deserve,” the city’s attorney Michael A. Cardozo said in a statement. “Although we will of course comply with the judge’s ruling, we strongly disagree with it.”

The city plans to appeal.

“This is a tremendous victory for UFT [United Federation of Teachers] members in the 24 [Persistently Low Achieving] schools and for our entire union,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew wrote in a letter to teachers at the Turnaround schools. “We stood firm in this fight because we knew, from day one, that the DOE was wrong in its interpretation of our contract — and because we could not sit idly by while thousands of good teachers were unfairly forced out of their positions by a mayor intent on maligning our profession.”

Turnaround was set in motion after the city and union failed to come to an agreement on an evaluation system which jeopardized almost $60 million in federal School Improvement Grants [SIG].

Receiving those funds was contingent on changes being made in the schools, which due to the city’s losses in court has not happened.

Whether the seven Queens high schools marked for Turnaround — August Martin, Flushing, John Adams, Long Island City, Newtown, Richmond Hill and William C. Bryant — will be renamed remains undetermined.