'Parents' Group Intends To Sue Mayor Over Cathie Black ‘Damage’

Parents’ Group Intends To Sue Mayor Over Cathie Black ‘Damage’

by Mary Frost (mfrost@brooklyneagle.net), published online 04-27-2011

City Says Suit Lacks Merit

By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

NEW YORK — A group of parents represented by the public interest law firm Advocates for Justice filed a Notice of Claim Wednesday against Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The group charges the mayor with committing “misfeasance of office” through the appointment of Cathie Black as schools chancellor, and by so doing “damaging the education of public school children in New York City.”

The Notice of Claim signifies the group’s intent to sue

About a dozen parents along with the newly formed New York City Parents Union are listed as claimants. They are demanding $100 million in compensatory damages from Mayor Bloomberg, “as the individual now held accountable under New York state’s education law for the performance of the public education system,” according to a release from the NYC Parents Union. The group would use the $100 million for teacher training.

The Notice of Claim was filed with the Office of New York City Comptroller John Liu. The claim cited the mayor’s “fiduciary obligation to act with the utmost of prudence and responsibility” in running the city’s school system.

Brooklyn Parent: ‘Children Have Suffered’

Brooklyn parent Mariama Sanoh, a claimant, said in a statement: “When outraged parents stated that Cathie Black was unqualified to be chancellor, Mayor Bloomberg accused us — the real stakeholders in our children’s education — of playing politics. The mayor has committed misfeasance and our children have suffered. There have to be consequences for these bad choices.”

Kate O’Brien Ahlers, a spokesperson for the New York City Law Department, told the Brooklyn Eagle, the group’s claim “so lacks merit that it’s not even worth me commenting.”

In December, an Albany judge ruled that the state did not wrongfully grant Cathleen Black the waiver that allowed her to serve as chancellor, in spite of her lack of qualifications.

Other Brooklyn claimants include Chris Owens, district leader of the 52nd Assembly District and former community school board president; parent Muba Yarofulani, co-president of the Coalition for Public Education (CPE) and president of the District 18 Presidents Council; and Brooklyn teacher Julie Cavanagh.

Arthur Z. Schwartz, the lawyer for the NYC Parents Union, will be arguing another lawsuit in Albany today on behalf of the Deny Waiver Coalition, a parent group with many of the same members as the Parents Union. The suit argues that the minimum education and work qualifications for schools chancellor cannot be ignored in the future. The case will be heard in the Appellate Division, Third Department.