NEW YORK - The New York Civil Liberties Union submitted an amicus brief in support of parents and teachers who allege that the Department of Education (DOE) violated state law by denying parents, students, educators, and community members the opportunity to provide critical public comments about how hundreds of millions of dollars in school budget cuts would impact them.
Submitted in the New York State Appellate Division, 1st Department in the case Tucker et al. v. New York City et al., the brief argues that the DOE’s failure to complete the full public comment period on its budget and hold the city’s school board (Panel for Educational Policy or PEP) vote prior to the City Council’s vote on the City’s overall budget led to a lack of community input and thwarted the New York State’s legislature's intention to involve the public in decisions regarding education. As a result, City Council members voted for the budget without fully understanding its impact, which will affect at least 77% of DOE schools and range from the elimination of teaching positions to cut entire programs in some schools — including those for students with disabilities and English Language Learners.
“Public participation and government transparency are particularly important in deliberations about public education,” said Stefanie Coyle, deputy director for the Education Policy Center at the New York Civil Liberties Union. “By rushing through the school budget approval process without full community input, the Adams administration disregarded both principles, while risking the wellbeing of our school system and students.”
“Mayoral control has been rightfully criticized as undemocratic, and the lack of transparency over the city’s school budget provides a further reminder of the need for reform,” said Johanna Miller, director for the Education Policy Center at the New York Civil Liberties Union. “For the Mayor and Chancellor to disregard public participation shows their disdain for New Yorkers and for principles of a healthy democracy.”