This week NYSED Commissioner MaryEllen Elia gave the Buffalo schools superintendent the power to "circumvent" union contracts at five Buffalo schools.
The Buffalo News reports the Buffalo Teachers Federation is planning to sue over the move and the lawsuit will have national implications:
State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia’s ruling this week that Superintendent Kriner Cash can circumvent the union contract to make changes at receivership schools will likely end in a court battle with one of the most powerful teachers unions in the country. It’s a fight that will be watched across the nation.
Five schools have been deemed persistently struggling: Burgard and South Park high schools, West Hertel Elementary School, Marva J. Daniels Futures Preparatory School and Buffalo Elementary School of Technology. Those schools were given just one year to show demonstrable improvement under Cash before they can be turned over to an outside entity. The district has tried to negotiate changes at an additional 14 schools that were given two years to show improvement. Several other schools were included on earlier receivership lists, but some made last-minute improvements, while others are being phased out.
Elia issued her ruling in a dispute between Cash and the Buffalo Teachers Federation over changes that go against the teachers contract. The law requires the receiver to try and negotiate changes with bargaining units; but in situations where the two parties cannot come to an agreement, the commissioner can intervene.
The BTF, with the backing of New York State United Teachers, will likely challenge the law in court. The union will likely ask for an injunction to prevent the changes from happening. Meanwhile, Cash continues to move forward on plans for those schools and has previously indicated changes could be rolled out in January.
Anybody out there have any confidence the BTF, backed by NYSUT, can win a court battle over the law?