FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCTOBER 26, 2015
Contact: Melody Meyer (Partnership for Educational Justice): 646-770-7061 or firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW YORK PARENTS RALLY IN SUPPORT OF JUDGE’S DECISION TO DENY MOTION TO DISMISS, ALLOWING THE WRIGHT V. NEW YORK CASE FOR EDUCATIONAL JUSTICE TO CONTINUE
Friday’s ruling from Justice Minardo marks the second victory for the parent plaintiffs, after an earlier motion to dismiss was denied last March
New York, NY – Today, parent plaintiffs in Wright v. New York, the lawsuit challenging the State’s teacher employment and dismissal statutes, rallied and celebrated with supporters following Friday’s decision by Justice Philip Minardo of the Staten Island Supreme Court to deny the defendants’ renewed motion to dismiss and allow the case to move forward. This is the second time the court has denied a motion to dismiss from the defendants. Supporters hailed the court’s decision as an important victory for the Wright v. New York plaintiffs, who are eager to have their case heard by the court.
Jay Lefkowitz, Kirkland & Ellis Senior Partner and lead plaintiffs’ counsel for Wright v. New York, said, “We are pleased that Justice Minardo has decided for the second time to allow this lawsuit proceed and has once again rejected the effort by the State, the City, and the teachers’ unions to stop this lawsuit. New York State’s constitution guarantees all children in the state a sound basic education, and the current teacher employment statutes are simply failing in this regard by keeping ineffective teachers in our public schools. We look forward to the day when we can put on our evidence at trial and vindicate the rights of parents and children across the state.”
Keoni Wright, father from Brooklyn and Wright v. New York lead plaintiff, said, “As a father fighting for a fair education for my children, it feels good to be validated by Justice Minardo once again. Parents across New York State trust public schools to provide their kids with a quality education, and unfortunately, far too many parents have seen their schools fall short. We are fighting not just for our children, but for all children who have fallen through the cracks of a broken system that puts the interests of adults before those of students. We are looking forward to our day in court on behalf of all New York families.”
Tauana Goins, mother from Queens and Wright v. New York plaintiff, said, “Speaking for myself and the other parents serving as plaintiffs, we are thrilled that Justice Minardo has again sided with New York’s students and families. The defendants have tried over and over to make our case go away, but this latest victory means that we are here to stay until the fight for educational justice has been heard. Our case will not only advocate on behalf of students, but it will also bring to light important information about our schools, and which children are most likely to suffer with a harmful and ineffective teacher. Parents deserve to know the truth and we will not stand down until educational justice has been served.”
Angeles Barragan, madre de Bronx y demandante en Wright v. New York, dijo: “Me llena de alegría que el tribunal permita que nuestro caso avance, ¡aun ante los intentos de los abogados del demandado de desestimar el caso! Llegué desde México a los Estados Unidos para tener la seguridad de que mis hijos pudieran ir a la escuela y recibir la educación que merecían. Está mal que las leyes de New York apoyen a maestros que no incentivan a los estudiantes. No aceptaré que mi hija no pueda progresar en la escuela y no dejaré de luchar hasta presentarme ante el tribunal.”
Justice Minardo’s refusal to dismiss the plaintiffs challenge to New York State’s teacher employment statutes reaffirms his previous decision that the Wright v. New York case for educational justice should move forward. The court first ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor this past March when Justice Minardo denied the defendants’ first motion to dismiss, writing in his decision that “we will not close the courthouse door to parents and children with viable constitutional claims.” Despite the court’s decision that the plaintiffs had viable constitutional claims, the defendants filed a second motion to dismiss last spring, arguing that recent reforms to New York State’s education laws remedied any claims of constitutional harm.
During oral arguments last August, the Wright v. New York plaintiffs and counsel urged the court to deny this new motion on the grounds that recent minor amendments to the state education law do not remedy the current constitutional harm inflicted on children by New York’s education law. On Friday, Justice Philip Minardo agreed with the plaintiffs’ arguments, writing that “In this case, the legislature’s marginal changes affecting, e.g., the term of probation and/or the disciplinary proceedings applicable to teachers, are insufficient to” prevent this case from moving forward.
The Wright v. New York case was first filed in 2014, when nine families from across the state brought suit against the State of New York and others, claiming that teacher tenure and dismissal laws deprive New York children of their right to a sound basic education as guaranteed under the New York State Constitution.
ABOUT PARTNERSHIP FOR EDUCATIONAL JUSTICE
Partnership for Educational Justice (PEJ) is a team of parent leaders, education advocates, and legal experts dedicated to reclaiming the promise of public education for all students. PEJ helps students, families, and communities advocate for better public schools through coalition-building and legal action. Specifically, PEJ works with parents and students to challenge antiquated laws that prevent public schools from providing all students with a good education. Our targeted litigation strategy is supported by a coordinated communications campaign at the local, state, and national levels that increases pressure on legislators and other decision-makers to improve our education system for the benefit of all children.
Founded by Campbell Brown, an award-winning journalist and writer, Partnership for Educational Justice is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. PEJ is grateful to have the support and counsel of various attorneys at Kirkland & Ellis, including Jay Lefkowitz. These talented and mission-driven individuals are donating their services pro bono to ensure all students in New York have access to the teachers they deserve.