A close-up look at NYC education policy, politics,and the people who have been, are now, or will be affected by acts of corruption and fraud. ATR CONNECT assists individuals who suddenly find themselves in the ATR ("Absent Teacher Reserve") pool and are the "new" rubber roomers, and re-assigned. The terms "rubber room" and "ATR" mean that you or any person has been targeted for removal from your job. A "Rubber Room" is not a place, but a process.
TheUnited Federation of Teachersfiled suit in state Supreme Court on Tuesday to force the Department of Education to hand over copies of official e-mails that it has been requesting since May 2010.
The union wants to see e-mails between various city officials and education groups regarding proposals to phase-out failing schools and to open new charter schools. The suit accuses the city of violating the state’s Freedom of Information Law by repeatedly saying it needs more time, calling that a “constructive denial” of the requests for information.
The union’s president, Michael Mulgrew, issued a statement noting that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg “rushed” at the chance torelease teacher ratings to the mediawith the names of individual teachers.
“His lawyers in that case claimed that the people’s right to know is ‘basic to our society,’” Mr. Mulgrew said. “But when it comes to a simple request about City Hall’s correspondence with charter school proponents, it’s delay after delay after delay. You’d think City Hall had something to hide.”
A spokeswoman for the city’s Law Department said the agency had not yet been served with any papers, and therefore couldn’t comment on the suit.
In its response a month later, the Education Department argued that the request was not “reasonably described” with sufficient details to locate and identify the records the union wanted. The city then continued to report back each month that it needed more time to deal with the “expansive nature” of the union’s requests.
In a letter on March 22, the Education Department’s general counsel, Michael Best, told the union that a search of Mr. Klein’s and Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm’s e-mails alone “has resulted in approximately 10,000 potentially responsive e-mails.”
Beth Fertig is a senior reporter at WNYC. Follow her on Twitter @bethfertig