State assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries joined 12 other public school parents in filing a lawsuit against the city’s new schools chancellor, Cathie Black.
The suit focuses on the fact that the appointment of a deputy to qualify for some of the waiver requirements is simply a way that education commissioner David Steiner was able to get around existing laws in order to mollify Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“Commissioner Steiner should have denied the waiver, his failure to follow the law is the reason why we are compelled to bring this lawsuit,” Jeffries said.
“Cathie Black’s waiver application relies upon the appointment of a shadow chancellor in order to make up for the deficiencies in her resume and create the illusion of competence. Houdini would be proud, but the law and the courts should not tolerate such trickery.”
This lawsuit is the third such one to be announced since Black was named to replace outgoing schools chief Joel Klein. The lawyers representing the suit, Norman Siegel and Herbert Teitlebaum, say that they expect their suits to be joined together with the other suits against Black’s appointment. When the three are grouped together, the defendants will be allowed to respond on December 20 and the final verdict will come on the morning of December 23.
Regardless of the outcome however, outgoing chancellor Joel Klein’s tenure expires on the 31st, and if Black’s waiver is upheld, there will be no clear person to fill in after Klein leaves. At the press conference, no one was able to come up with a clear answer: perhaps Shael Polakow-Suransky, who has been assigned to be Black’s second-in-command? Maybe NewsCorp. can do without Klein for another month or so?
“If there’s one classic example of the failure of the management approach its that after eight years of leadership of chancellor Klein there is no clear successor who has education credentials,” said Chris Owens, one of the parents involved with the suit and son of former Rep. Major Owens.
“The first rule of management is you deal with succession planning and clearly they have not done that because they prefer to go with the whim of the mayor than deal with quality education,” Owens said.