The 3rd Case Filed on Behalf of High School "Push-outs" is Settled, Leaving Many Unsettled
Bushwick HS students thrown out of school because of poor attendance or other illegal reasons have settled their case against the DOE
The "Pushouts" from Bushwick High School may re-enroll, and the New York City Department of Education admits no wrong-doing. In fact, Chancellor Joel Klein is quoted as saying
""The DOE is committed to ensuring that all our students have the opportunity to progress in their education." Does this mean Now, as opposed to then? If the NYC DOE is not liable, who is?
MIKE MAKES DEAL ON HS 'PUSH-OUTS'
By CARL CAMPANILE and KATI CORNELL SMITH, NY POST, June 19, 2004
The Bloomberg administration reached a court settlement requiring city education officials to stop the alleged practice of "pushing" overage students out of school.
The court order, approved by Brooklyn federal Judge Jack Weinstein, covers accusations of students being tossed out of Brooklyn's Bushwick HS before reaching the age of 21, and steering them to GED programs.
Two other cases recently settled involve allegations of education officials illegally discharging students from Franklin K. Lane HS on the Brooklyn-Queens border and Martin Luther King Jr. HS on the Upper West Side.
The Bushwick case covers students thrown out of school for having long-term absences and those who were overage and accumulated few credits toward graduation.
The lawsuit alleged 30 percent of students were illegally pushed off Bushwick's registers from 1998-2001.
Under the deal, students are allowed to re-enroll.
"The DOE is committed to ensuring that all our students have the opportunity to progress in their education," Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said.
June 19, 2004
City Resolves Legal Battle Over Forcing Students Out
By TAMAR LEWIN, NY TIMES, June 19, 2004
After months of legal skirmishing over New York City's policies regarding older students who have fallen behind, lawsuits charging that three high schools illegally discharged struggling students have been resolved. In the process, a tentatively cooperative relationship has emerged between the Department of Education and Advocates for Children, the group that brought the lawsuits.
In a memorandum accompanying the final settlement, Jack B. Weinstein, a senior judge in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, said that although the lawsuits directly affect only a few of the city's 1.1 million students, the principles involved, accepted by the city, "set an important standard for the entire system."
Judge Weinstein said the cases "exposed a lesion - the alleged 'pushing out' of difficult-to-educate students - that has been festering for many years," all the way back to a case he heard 35 years ago against one of the schools, Franklin K. Lane.
In the current litigation against Lane, Bushwick High School and Martin Luther King Jr. High School, city officials acknowledged that New York schools had an obligation to allow students to work toward high school graduation until they are 21. In recent years, many older students who have fallen behind have been directed into high school equivalency programs.
"Resolution of these cases will not solve the deep-seated socioeconomic, political and education issues that underlay failures of our education system," Judge Weinstein wrote. "But, on the 50th anniversary of the historic Brown v. Board of Education case, it is a fitting reminder that the American struggle for educational excellence for all - a sine qua non of equality of opportunity - goes on, and with some success."
As a practical matter, resolution was reached in all three cases this year, with the Department of Education denying liability but pledging action to ensure that more students are helped toward graduation. The settlement in the Lane case, for example, called not only for students to be allowed to re-enroll, but for the community center to offer at least 12 hours a week of support services to current and discharged Lane students. The city has also announced an $8 million initiative to develop new programs and schools for students in the Bronx.
In addition to the final settlement of the three lawsuits came a new agreement for cooperation between the Department of Education and Advocates for Children, which has considered filing a citywide class-action lawsuit on the issue.
In a letter dated Wednesday, Michael Best, the Department of Education's general counsel, told Jill Chaifetz, the executive director of Advocates for Children, that the department would provide information the group has requested and collaborate on training school officials on discharge policies. The new relationship, he said, was being made "with the understanding that Advocates for Children is not currently planning to commence citywide litigation on these issues," and would cease if the group filed any more lawsuits.
Since last October, the city has required school officials to counsel students and parents on their legal rights and educational options before any discharge or transfer.
In the letter, the department said it would seek suggestions from Advocates for Children on improving the training manual for those interviews.
The department also agreed to the group's request for reports on how many discharges and transfers there have been citywide in the last two school years, how many school officials have been trained in the new planning interview policies and procedures, and how many such interviews have been conducted.
The Department of Education sent mailings this year to all public school students discharged or transferred to nondiploma programs from July 2, 2003, to Jan. 21, 2004, telling them of their right to return to school.