NEW YORK—A judge in Manhattan temporarily blocked Gov. Andrew Cuomo from withholding $250 million in aid to New York City schools, arguing that the state should not penalize students and teachers after union and education officials did not come to an agreement over how to conduct teacher evaluations.
The New York City Department of Education and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), the union, could not come to an agreement last month. Cuomo had promised to withhold the funding after the city and the teachers’ union failed to meet the Jan. 17 deadline.
“The purpose of the preliminary injunction is to maintain the status quo of the parties pending the outcome of the litigation,” reads a court injunction issued by Justice Manuel Mendez of the State Supreme Court.
It was reported earlier this month that a group of parents and students filed the lawsuit, claiming that students’ constitutional rights would be violated.
Mendez appeared to agree: “The approximately $250 million dollars in funding for the 2012-2013 school year, is vitally needed for New York City school students to ensure that they get the opportunity to achieve a sound basic education,” the court document reads.
“Due process rights are being violated because of the harsh, unreasonable and arbitrary manner in which penalties were imposed on students who had nothing to do with” the talks between city officials and the UFT, it added.
Cuomo had made the teacher evaluation system a condition for receiving the millions of dollars in state aid, reported Reuters. He refused to push back the deadline.
A spokesperson with Cuomo’s office told the news agency that the state will appeal Friday’s ruling.
When New York and the teachers’ union failed to reach an agreement last month, they both blamed one another.
“The intransigence of the Bloomberg administration on key issues has made it impossible to reach agreement on a new teacher evaluation system,” wrote UFT head Michael Mulgrew at the time.
But Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the union walked away from the negotiations.
“Instead of working with us to tie up the loose ends of this agreement, they continued to insert unrelated, extraneous issues into these negotiations. The effect was to set the talks back, time and time again,” he said a month ago.
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