The UFT is going to plan B in its latest legal appeal to keep Teacher Data Reports under wraps.
The fight over a Freedom of Information Law request by several city news organizations to release the reports, which calculated “value-added” scores for some teachers, is still making its way through the courts, even though the city has said it will not produce new reports.
The union sued to stop the city from releasing the scores, with teachers’ names, to the news organizations. But in August, confirming a lower-court judge’s ruling, the state’s second-highest court ruled that the scores are a matter of public interest and should be released. To appeal that ruling, the union had to follow a complicated set of legal procedures.
Here’s how we described the steps at the time:
Because the four judges on the Appellate Court ruled unanimously against the union, there’s no guarantee that the Court of Appeals will hear the case. Instead, the Appellate Court has to give permission. Within days, the union will ask the appellate court for permission to have the case heard in the Court of Appeals. If permission isn’t granted, the union can also ask the Court of Appeals itself.
The second scenario — that the Appellate Court would not refer the case to the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court — played out today. Now the union must convince the Court of Appeals to hear the potentially precedent-setting case, which UFT President Michael Mulgrew said it would try to do quickly.
“Given the harm that could be done by the release of these misleading and inaccurate reports, we will be filing a motion directly with the New York State Court of Appeals seeking leave to appeal the Appellate Division’s decision in this case,” Mulgrew said in a statement.
A court order preventing the city from releasing the scores while the appeals are underway remains in place, union officials said. That court order, called a stay, is set to expire five days after the union officially receives the Appellate Court’s ruling, which hasn’t happened yet. By the time that window closes, the union plans to have formally asked the Court of Appeals to hear the case, officials said.
The court has no set timeline to make its decision. But if it declines to hear the case, then the Appellate Court’s decision would stand, the union would be out of legal options, and the city would be free to release the reports that it now says are unnecessary.