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Federal Appeals Court Finds for Minority Public School Teachers Who Say NYC Board of Education Discriminated Against Them

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US Second Circuit Court of Appeals Overturns Lower Court Decision

On August 18, 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled in favor of African American and Latino public school teachers who charged that one of the five examinations used for certification in New York discriminated against them. In reversing the order of Federal District Judge Constance Baker Motley, the 3 judge panel held that the lower court had applied the incorrect legal standard when judging the evidence before it and remanded the case back to the lower court for an assessment of the evidence under the proper standard. The case will now be heard by a different judge because the Honorable Judge Motley passed away during the pendency of the appeal.

The lawsuit, Gulino v. Board of Education, was filed in 1996 by the Center for Constitutional Rights after Elsa Gulino, a Latina public school teacher, and three of her African American colleagues charged that the Liberal Arts & Sciences Test had not been properly validated for use in assessing teachers' ability to perform their job. Interestingly, Judge Motley, found that the test had a disparate racial impact and that the City and the State failed to demonstrate that the test was job related. The case was appealed because the plaintiffs believed that the wrong standard had been applied. With the Court of Appeals decision in their favor, the teachers now are entitled to be returned to their former full-time positions at full pay with their vested pension rights.

CCR lead attorney Barbara Olshansky said: "After 10 years of struggle in the courtroom, we're thrilled that the Court has decided what we argued from the start: that racial discrimination in any form has no place in our society. CCR was founded as part of the struggle for civil rights, and Gulino demonstrates that we will never rest as long as those rights are endangered."

CCR Legal Director Bill Goodman said: "This should put on notice all those who would use invalid testing to bar those who have been the traditional victims of discrimination in America from achieving professional status. Such practices will not be tolerated, because they are contrary to the belief in the equality so vital to us as Americans."

 

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.