NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg should be fined $100 million of his own money over his unpopular education chief’s short and controversial tenure, a group of parents said in legal papers on Wednesday.
They say Bloomberg chose to burnish his three-term mayor legacy over improving education when he nominated his friend and former Hearst Magazines chairman Cathie Black as schools chancellor, despite her lack of credentials and experience.
Black quit the post this month after just 95 days in office and was replaced by her deputy.
The papers by Advocates for Justice, a law-firm and advocacy group representing the 14 parents, are a preliminary notice of a lawsuit handed to the City’s Comptroller’s office. The group has yet to file a formal legal complaint in a New York court.
“The mayor’s ego, and his insistence on ‘selling’ the school system rather than building it from the ground up, led to this disaster,” said the group’s attorney Arthur Schwartz in a statement.
“The mayor took a lot from the City’s school children with this error, and he should be required to make repairs — in a sum that he is uniquely qualified to do,” Schwartz said.
The $100 million in damages should be paid personally by the billionaire mayor, the legal papers said, and be pooled in a fund to help train teachers.
“This suit so lacks merit it’s not even worth me commenting,” said Kate O’Brien-Ahlers, a spokeswoman for the City’s Law Department. A representative from the mayor’s office was not immediately available to comment.
The parents, who are seeking class-action status to represent all New York City public school parents, said Bloomberg had committed “misfeasance of office” by ramming Black’s appointment through the state bureaucracy.
After being appointed in November, Black clashed repeatedly with teachers and parents who saw her as a friend of Bloomberg with no experience that would suggest she had the credentials to succeed in one the most challenging jobs in U.S. education.
Black never seemed to recover after her comment in January that birth control “would really help us” solve the problem of overcrowded schools drew the ire of many parents of the city’s 1.1 million public school students.
Black’s resignation on April 7 came just days after an NY1-Marist poll found Bloomberg’s approval rating had dropped to 40 percent, with 21 percent saying they believe his performance in office is poor.