Court Battle Delayed, at NYSUT’s Request

ALBANY—The court battle between David Paterson and education groups will be postponed, at the education groups’ request.

A hearing on a suit filed by New York State United Teachers (and others)–which contends that Paterson acted improperly when he stalled aid payments to schools, citing a lack of cash–will now be held Jan. 20 in Albany before Justice Roger McDonough. NYSUT sent the below letter to the Paterson administration yesterday requesting the delay. A hearing had been scheduled for Jan. 5.

“Since NYSUT and a coalition of education groups filed suit on December 16, the governor, in his public statements and legal papers, has stated that school aid payments would likely be made in mid-January, protecting student services from harm; employees from layoff notices and New Yorkers from higher property taxes — all of which would have resulted if school aid payments had been withheld indefinitely,” Carl Korn, a NYSUT spokesman, said in a statement. “Our main concern has been, and always will be, ensuring that school districts receive the state aid lawfully approved by the Legislature. A brief postponement in the legal proceedings should not be read as anything more than time needed to respond to the state’s gratifying change in its position.”

Morgan Hook, a spokesman for Paterson, said the administration’s position has been consistent since the “delayment” was announced: schools would be made whole if the funds became available. NYSUT is pointing to comments Paterson made during a press conference on Dec. 23, when the notion of restoring payments was presented less contingent and more a question of “when” not “if.”

Hook said yesterday that NYSUT’s “dire warnings of ‘immediate and severe’ consequences were nothing more than scare tactics,” and pointed to their stalling the suit as an indication their argument is weak.

NYSUT Delay Letter Court Battle Delayed, at NYSUT’s Request