Deny the Waiver Coalition Press Conference

Deny the Waiver Coalition Press Conference: Eric Snyder, Esq., Arthur Schwartz, Esq. and Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, Esq.

Eric Snyder, Esq., public school parent and the first to file a lawsuit against Cathie Black’s waiver.  Mr. Snyder is followed by Arthur Schwartz, legal counsel to the 14 parent petitioners and Hakeem Jeffries, Assemblyman and public school parent,  speaking at the Deny the Waiver press conference announcing the appeal of the waiver.  The fight continues for a qualified educator to lead the nation’s largest school system.

Deny the Waiver Coalition Statement on the 17% Approval Rating for Unqualified Chancellor Cathie Black

Our Schools NYC / News / Deny the Waiver Coalition Statement on the 17% Approval Rating for Unqualified Chancellor Cathie Black

Deny the Waiver Coalition Statement on the 17% Approval Rating for Unqualified Chancellor Cathie Black

Cathie Black

“Parents understand more and more that Ms. Black is unqualified to be Chancellor”

The NY1/Marist Poll released on Monday, April 4 showing that New York City Chancellor Cathleen P. Black’s public approval rating has fallen to 17% is no surprise to public school parents.

There is little evidence that Black’s reign will be successful by any measure.  Specifically, there has been an exodus of qualified education leaders since Ms. Black’s appointment — which New York’s public school students cannot afford to have happen.

The waiver of education requirements that Cathie Black received from New York State Education Commissioner David Steiner was based in large part on the support she allegedly would be receiving from her Deputy Chancellors — since her own knowledge of education is minimal.

Since Ms. Black’s nomination to become Chancellor, however, three Deputy Chancellors — all involved with critical responsibilities — have resigned their positions.  The most recent departure, that of 22-year veteran Santiago Taveras, Deputy Chancellor for Community Engagement, is the latest loss of an educator with significant and relevant administrative or teaching experience.  The other two Deputy Chancellors who have left the New York City Department of Education are Photeine Anagnostopoulos, Deputy Chancellor for Finance and Technology (November, 2010) and 39-year veteran Eric Nadelstern, Deputy Chancellor for the Division of School Support and Instruction (January, 2011).

Attorney Arthur Schwartz of Advocates for Justice stated that “Commissioner Steiner and one Court insisted that Cathie Black did not need specific expertise due to the amount of support she would have from a knowledgeable team.  As my clients pointed out from the start, however, a team can come apart and then what?”

Schwartz continued.  ”In this case the unqualified team leader, Cathie Black, will be less and less able to provide the strong leadership needed at this time. The real losers are the children, their parents, and all those who truly care about public education in the City of New York.  Our appellate courts still have an opportunity to do the right thing.  A judge can rectify this egregious error first made by Mayor Bloomberg, then compounded by Commissioner Steiner.”  Advocates for Justice is representing the Petitioners challenging Ms. Black’s appointment as Chancellor.

Monica Ayuso, a Queens parent, said, “Unfortunately, I don’t fault any true educator who departs this system during a time when the education of our children has been commandeered by the non-educator. It’s my hope that we won’t lose too many more educators before the system is rid of Ms. Black.”

Mariama Sanoh, a Brooklyn parent, said, “Four months later and Cathie Black’s approval rating is only going down.  Cathie Black must go.  My children deserve a qualified Chancellor who inspires confidence.”

Mona Davids, a Bronx parent at a New York City Department of Education-authorized charter school, stated the following:

“Mayor Bloomberg’s legacy is now complete as the worst education Mayor, and as the Mayor responsible for almost destroying our public education system.  Cathie Black’s appointment confirmed for the world Mayor Bloomberg’s intention of privatizing our school system and highlighted the Mayor’s poor management through failed multi-million dollar no-bid contracts and the use of outside consultants.  Parents understand more and more that Mrs. Black is unqualified to be Chancellor.  That is why her approval rating is down to 17%.”

Noah E. Gotbaum, a Manhattan parent and President of Community Education Council 3, stated the following:

“During these times of fiscal challenge, it is absolutely critical that the Chancellor understands all aspects of our of schools, of teaching and of public education.  Instead, our out-of-touch Mayor has chosen an out-of-touch Chancellor who will spend the next 3 years learning on the job, while deferring important decisions to her shrinking cadre of Deputies.  Parents, teachers, administrators and all New Yorkers know the Mayor has made an enormous mistake in selecting the game but completely unqualified Cathie Black.  The question is, for the sake of our children, will this Mayor ever admit it?”

The Deny the Waiver Coalition will continue to fight to ensure that our children have a qualified Chancellor.  We have not given up our legal fight and will be in appellate court on April 28, even stronger in our conviction that Cathie Black is unqualified to be New York City Schools Chancellor and must be removed.


Parent Petitioners from the five boroughs are: Assemblyman Jeffries (Brooklyn), Hon. Chris Owens (Brooklyn), Ms. Mona Davids (Bronx), Mr. Noah E. Gotbaum (Manhattan), Ms. Khem Irby (Brooklyn), Ms. Lydia Bellahcene (Brooklyn), Ms. Patricia Connelly (Brooklyn), Ms. Monica Ayuso (Queens), Ms. Mariama Sanoh (Brooklyn), Mr. John Battis (Brooklyn), Ms. Latrina Miley (Manhattan), Ms. Shino Tanikawa-Oglesby (Manhattan) and Ms. Maria Farano-Rodriguez (Staten Island).  The teacher Petitioner is Ms. Julie Cavanagh (Brooklyn).



Mona Davids                                            917-340-8987

Noah E. Gotbaum                                    917-658-3213

Lupe Todd (for Assemblyman Jeffries)      917-202-0116

Arthur Z. Schwartz (Attorney)                  917-923-8136

Appeal Seeks To Derail $260 Million Sale Of St. Vincent's Campus

In a renewed effort to derail the $260 million sale of St. Vincent Hospital’s main Manhattan campus to a prominent developer, a group that said it was lining up alternative investors for the site has filed an appeal of a bankruptcy judge’s order approving the deal.
The appeal, filed Monday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, seeks to overturn Judge Cecelia G. Morris’s approval of the transaction earlier this month. Morris signed off on the sale to company controlled by members of the Rudin family over the objections of a group led by former New York City Council member Alan J. Gerson.
The Gerson group and the Fulton Houses Tenants Association, a public housing development near the former hospital, are fighting the deal because it doesn’t provide for a new hospital to be built where St. Vincent’s stands, said attorney Arthur Schwartz, of the Public Interest Firm Advocates for Justice, who filed the appeal.
The Rudin plan calls for most of the former hospital’s campus to be developed into housing. Schwartz also said the deal may not be in the best interest of St. Vincent’s creditors.
“We think the court didn’t hear enough information to say this was an arms-length transaction and this is the best that the creditors could do,” he said in an interview Tuesday.
Morris approved the property sale without subjecting Rudin’s bid to challenge at a court- supervised auction. St. Vincent’s said it chose the Rudin offer over a competing bid but never publicly identified that rival.
The appeal itself doesn’t halt the sale process. In a statement, a Rudin spokesman said the developer doesn’t expect any delays.
“This appeal was filed by parties that the bankruptcy court already concluded had neither legitimate objections nor legal standing to challenge the sale, and we fully expect this appeal to be dismissed,” spokesman Stefan Friedman said.
After nearly a year in bankruptcy, St. Vincent’s struck a deal in March to sell the property to the Rudin’s RSV LLC. The sale proceeds will provide a significant source of recovery for creditors of the hospital that closed its doors amid repeated financial difficulties.
Under Rudin’s direction, most of the lower Manhattan property will be turned into housing, while North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health Care System plans to open a $110 million health- care center with a freestanding emergency department in one of the former hospital’s buildings.
Gerson and other community activists protested that deal because it wouldn’t reopen a full- service hospital on the campus. The planned medical center couldn’t admit overnight patients.
Prior to the judge’s approval of the deal, Gerson’s group said it was in talks with developers and major medical providers about opening a new hospital, but asked for additional time to finalize a rival proposal. Morris did not grant that time and instead approved the sale to Rudin.
The Fulton tenants association is separately fighting with the state over St. Vincent’s closure, arguing that without a new hospital residents do not have mandated access to health-care services.
Representatives for St. Vincent’s did not respond to requests for comment. Gerson was unavailable Tuesday.
St. Vincent’s, founded more than 160 years ago, filed for bankruptcy last year after failing to find a buyer that would keep its health-care operations open. Since then, it has been selling off its remaining assets to pay back creditors.
The Chapter 11 bankruptcy was St. Vincent’s second in less than five years.
(Dow Jones Daily Bankruptcy Review covers news about distressed companies and those under bankruptcy protection)
By Eric Morath; Dow Jones Daily Bankruptcy Review; 202-862-9279;
(END) Dow Jones Newswires April 19, 2011 13:38 ET (17:38 GMT)

Advocates for Justice And Parents Win New Education Elections

Advocates for Justice And Parents Win New Education Elections
Department of Education sets re-do of Advisory elections and pushes back later rounds of voting per NYC Parents Union demands; other issues to be resolved during the next few days 
May 12, 2011, New York, NY — The fledgling New York City Parents Union and six other parent petitioners earned a victory today that benefits all New York City public school parents.  Based on many problems with the implementation of elections for the 36 Education Councils in New York City, the parents started legal action to block the elections, and the City of New York and the New York City Department of Education today agreed to invalidate the current election process and implement a new one commencing on Wednesday, May 18th.
There will be a press conference on the steps of the Tweed Courthouse, where the New York City Department of Education has its offices, at 1:00 PM on Friday, May 13th.   
Advocates for Justice, a public interest law firm, represents the New York City Parents Union and other parents in this matter.  Arthur Z. Schwartz, Esq., President of Advocates for Justice, stated the following:   
"The Department of Education agreed with us to re-run the Education Council elections and to make sure that all parents have an opportunity to vote — including those without internet access — to make sure that information about every eligible candidate is available prior to the commencement of voting, and to resolve all eligibility issues before the voting begins, rather than afterwards.  Although there are still details to be worked out, some of which could result in subsequent litigation, we've put our legal action on hold.  It is our hope that the Department will work with the NYC Parents Union, all of the parents and elected officials to resolve all disputes expeditiously over the next several days."  
Ms. Muba Yarofulani, President of the President's Council District 18 in Brooklyn and a Vice President of the NYC Parents Union, stated "This day is a victorious day for the NYC Parents Union and the six petitioners who represented the previously unheard voices of all NYC public school parents. The flawed Community Education Council elections, which actually disenfranchised parents, will hopefully be done in a satisfactory and more compliant manner."
Ms. Mariama Sanoh, a Vice President of the NYC Parents Union, highlighted the arrival of a new force on the public education scene in New York.   "This is the first victory for our newly formed New York City Parents Union. Parents have been ignored for too long and there is no independent citywide voice for us.  But change has come for the New York City education system through this challenge and this positive outcome."
Ms. Mona Davids, President of the NYC Parents Union stated, "The New York City Parents Union is proud to stand up for the rights of all parents and we rejoice in this victory knowing that disenfranchised and disrespected parents will be empowered by what we have done."
Chris Owens, Executive Director of Advocates for Justice and a former Community School Board member, said, "The Department of Education's action today is an excellent first step of many that are needed.  There remains room for improvement in the Education Council selection process and ideas have been put forward by many people.  The Department of Education should make every effort to make these elections the best they can be and not just 'good enough.'  In the long run, this may require changing the State's education law as well.  Parents deserve to have their voices heard all of the time and not just during crises or through legal action."
Today's decision by the Department of Education means that parents will vote again for Education Council candidates running for one of the 36 Councils: the 32 Community Education Councils, Citywide Council on High Schools, Citywide Council on English Language Learners, Citywide Council on Special Education, or District 75 Council.  Part 1 of the voting, where parents cast "advisory" votes regarding their preference of candidate, will now start on Wednesday, May 18th and proceed through May 25th.  Part 2 of the voting, where designated "selectors" cast their binding ballots for candidates, will start on Friday, May 27th and continue through Friday, June 3rd.  If there are any run-offs between candidates, they would take place on June 6th and June 7th.  
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NYC Education elections are stopped

Community Education Council elections are stopped; Parents and City Attorneys meet to discuss issues
"We did agree — and it is public information — that the election processes for the Community Education Councils, the Citywide Council for English Language Learners, the Citywide Council for Special Education, and the Citywide Council for High Schools are on hold."
May 10, 2011, New York, NY — Advocates for Justice, on behalf of the New York City Parents Union and six (6) parent petitioners, met this afternoon with attorneys for the City of New York and the New York City Department of Education to discuss the problems plaguing recent elections for the Community Education Councils.
Advocates for Justice President Arthur Z. Schwartz, representing the petitioners, said that "All parties agreed that the discussion and negotiations pertaining to this matter will be kept confidential at this time.  However, we did agree — and it is public information — that the election processes for the Community Education Councils, the Citywide Council for English Language Learners, the Citywide Council for Special Education, and the Citywide Council for High Schools are on hold.  Any information to the contrary is inaccurate."
Community Education Councils and the other citywide education councils replaced Community School Boards when Mayoral control was given to Mayor Bloomberg in 2002.  Elections take place every three years.  This year, Community Education Council candidates were to submit their names for eligibility review and possible inclusion on the ballots no later than April 22nd.  Candidate forums were to take place between April 28th and May 5th.  Each parents were then entitled to vote in an "advisory capacity" for candidates running within their child's school district and citywide.   Once the advisory elections conclude, a set of "selectors" — officers from local Parent Associations — would then vote for the Council members later in May.  The selectors could choose to adhere to or ignore the results of the advisory voting.  Results of the voting would have been available by the end of May.
Citing numerous problems that undermined the participation in the first phase of the election as well as the fairness of the election itself, the parent petitioners are seeking improvements in the process and a "do-over" of the first phase of voting — the "advisory" votes.  Until the talks are resolved, the lawsuit is on hold.

Advocates for Justice Sues To Stop Shoddy Education Elections

Parents Sue and DOE stops flawed Community Education Council elections

"The vote last week was a sham"

May 9, 2011, New York, NY — Today, Advocates for Justice filed papers on behalf of the New York City Parents Union and six (6) parent petitioners for a temporary restraining order to stop the flawed Community Education Council elections being conducted by the New York City Department of Education.  The hearing was scheduled for 7:00 pm this evening before Judge Shirley Heitler, Manhattan Supreme Court.  At 6:30 pm, the Department of Education's General Counsel advised the court that they will postpone the selector process voting for one week.


The Department of Education's General Counsel has just requested a meeting with the New York City Parents Union and their General Counsel, Advocates for Justice at 1:00 pm, tomorrow, May 10th.


Parents, community leaders and elected officials have written to complain to the Department of Education regarding their violation of the electoral process mandated in state education law.  Parents also pointed out that the Department of Education failed to notify parents of the elections and obstructed the process by requiring parents to have their children's New York City Identification Number to view candidates' information and vote.  Most parents had not received the identification numbers from the Department of Education at the time of voting or through the entire week of voting.


Many candidates were also deemed ineligible by the Department of Education, never informed of their ineligibility and unable to reach anyone at the Department of Education.  Other parents of "aged out" children and charter parents were eligible to run but unable to access their candidate information or vote.


Arthur Schwartz, Esq., attorney for the parents and President of Advocates for Justice stated, "The school system will only thrive with active, involved, informed parents.  The vote last week was a sham.  Parents are entitled to make an informed choice through a well-run election so that the makeup of Community District Councils reflects the parent community.  It is a shame that it took a lawsuit to get the process stopped.  Hopefully, our negotiations over the next few days will bring about a fair, democratic, informed process."


Mona Davids, President of the New York City Parents Union, stated, "For too long, parents have been ignored as the real stakeholders in our children's education. The founding of the New York City Parents Union signals a change and that parents will no longer stand by while our rights are violated and our children are used as pawns in political games.  We demand a seat at the table in determining policy and ensuring a quality education for our children."