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What you need to know for 02/23/2018

Charter school fight sets off state vs. state suit

Charter school fight sets off state vs. state suit

Court filing cites concern about 'less stringent path' for teachers
Charter school fight sets off state vs. state suit
The court filing argues the State University of New York overstepped its authority.
Photographer: MARC SCHULTZ

The state’s top education policymakers are suing the State University of New York over charter school teacher rules that have pitted the state Education Department against the SUNY system.

The Education Department and the Board of Regents last week filed a complaint against SUNY, the SUNY Board of Trustees and a board committee that approved rules to allow SUNY-authorized charter school organizations to develop their own teacher certification process, potentially weakening state standards.

The rules, approved in late 2017 by the SUNY Board of Trustees, would allow certain charter schools and organizations that run multiple schools to certify their own teachers. SUNY oversees more than 180 charter schools across the state.

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Those changes drew the ire of the state’s teacher unions, and Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and Chancellor Betty Rosa both voiced criticism of the SUNY rules last year.

The Education Department and Regents argued the certification changes threatened to “create a less stringent path” for charter school teachers and would “erode the quality of teaching” across New York in a complaint filed Thursday.

The court filing argues SUNY overstepped its authority in offering a teacher certification plan for charter schools that differed from the state’s broader standards for public school teachers. The filing points to state laws that contend charter school teachers should be treated the same as other public school teachers.

“This section makes clear that teachers in all charter schools must meet the certification requirements applicable to other public school teachers,” the education officials wrote in the complaint.

Holly Liapsis, a SUNY spokeswoman, told media outlets last week that SUNY felt it was within its jurisdiction to implement the teacher certification changes.

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