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Black, Latino Teachers in NYC win the lawsuit lottery!

I think the important thing to celebrate is that the public schools in NYC suck! The Teachers Unions suck also. Otherwise, I'd like to congratulate these awesome public servants for turning in lousy results. Kids in NYC's school system are about as well educated as a six panel door.


Charters schools by comparison kick their ass in the Big Apple (using almost every metric, including special needs kids).


BTW: I'd like to offer a shout out to Sylvia who will now be living large. Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that she was...I mean she's enjoying a good lifestyle.


Black, Latino Teachers Collecting $835 Million in Discrimination Lawsuit

New York City to set aside a total of nearly $1.8 billion for plaintiffs who alleged teacher licensing test was biased


Former New York City schoolteacher Sylvia Alvarez is now collecting payments on a $1.1 million judgment.


By Sara Randazzo, WSJ

July 14, 2022 8:08 am ET


Thousands of Black and Latino former teachers in New York City stand to collect more than $1 billion after the city recently stopped fighting a decadeslong discrimination lawsuit that found a licensing test was biased.


The concession by the city in recent months means around 4,700 onetime New York City teachers who were demoted or fired since 1995 because they couldn’t pass the state licensing exam can go to court to collect a piece of the funds. So far, $835 million in judgments have been awarded to more than half that group, and the city said it would set aside nearly $1.8 billion in the coming years to cover all potential claims.


“It was time to bring this long standing case to a close,” a New York City law department spokesman said.


The state required the Liberal Arts and Sciences Test for teacher licensing from the 1990s until 2014. A group of teachers sued New York City and state agencies in 1996, alleging the test’s use was discriminatory and violated employment laws.


The teachers showed in court that white test takers passed at statistically significant higher rates than Black and Latino test takers. At times, over 90% of white test takers passed, compared with fewer than 62% of Black test takers and 55% of Latinos.


A pivotal 2012 court ruling found the test violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, in part because it didn’t relate to what teachers do in the classroom and wasn’t an indicator of better-performing teachers.


Sylvia Alvarez is one of those former New York City teachers benefiting from the case, through a $1.1 million judgment she is now collecting payments on.


Ms. Alvarez tried 10 times to pass the exam before she lost her teaching job in Brooklyn in 2003. She landed at a private preschool making less than half her prior salary of $45,000, which meant she could barely afford rent in Queens; and her two daughters had to return to Puerto Rico, where the family is from, to live with their grandparents.


She remembers falling to her knees and crying when she learned about the class-action lawsuit, relieved to learn the test itself was part of the problem.


“It gave me back my life,” the 56-year-old said. “It gave me that sense of release that I wasn’t failing.”


The Liberal Arts and Sciences Test contained 80 multiple-choice questions and one essay covering math, science, humanities, history, communication skills and other topics. An expert hired by the teachers at a 2002 trial testified that part of the discrepancy in passing rates could have been due to cultural knowledge underpinning the questions.


The case took a circuitous journey through the federal court system, including the trial ending in 2003 that went in favor of the city and state and multiple trips to appellate courts.


The city has argued it followed the licensing requirements mandated by the New York State Education Department and that it had no control over the test, which has since been replaced by other mandatory licensing exams. The state Education Department avoided liability after an appellate court in 2006 found the agency didn’t qualify as the teachers’ employer and dismissed it as a defendant.


A court-appointed lawyer is now assessing the value of each plaintiff’s claim. The process requires documenting how each person’s earnings compared with what they could have made if the test hadn’t interfered with their career.


The city unsuccessfully argued the payment system is flawed because it assumes each plaintiff would have worked in New York schools for the two decades the case has been pending. Half of teachers who start with the district leave within the first 10 years, the city said.


Payouts range from a few hundred dollars to nearly $2 million, the spokesman said.


Ms. Alvarez said she views the funds not as a windfall but as money she would have earned had her career stayed on course.


She worked in New York City schools for a decade as she kept failing the exam. Under rules at the time, teachers could continue in untenured, temporary or lesser-paid roles as they tried to meet the state requirements. “Mentally, it destroyed me,” she said of the repeated test attempts.


The settlement helped her buy her first house, in Puerto Rico, and spend time with her daughters.


The career trajectories of the plaintiffs vary, said Joshua Sohn, who joined the case as a junior lawyer in 2000 and is now a partner at law firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP.


Some became career substitute teachers in New York. Others found teaching jobs in other states. Many left the profession. “It’s a generation of teachers whose lives were disrupted, whose careers were derailed,” he said.


Theodore Regis, 57, lost his New York teaching job in 2003 after failing the exam five times. The court awarded him a $1.2 million judgment.


“It was worth it for us to fight discrimination,” said Mr. Regis, now a teacher in North Carolina. “Teaching is beyond money. It’s my life.”


Write to Sara Randazzo at sara.randazzo@wsj.com

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