Posted on September 24, 2018

City May Have to Pay Out $1.7B over Biased Teaching Exam

Selim Algar, New York Post, September 19, 2018


Legal papers quietly filed over the summer reveal that a court-appointed special master has recommended paying a total of $91.6 million in damages to just 219 of the plaintiffs in a long-running class-action suit against the former Board of Education — now the Department of Education — over a racially biased certification exam.

Approximately 4,000 people are eligible for payments, according to court documents — so if the remaining recommendations follow suit, the final bill would be around $1.67 billion.


That’s an average of $65,000 for each of the 1,500 would-be firefighters involved in the suit — while the recommended payout to teachers works out to $418,000 per person.


The teachers’ case involves the Liberal Arts and Sciences Test, a state-mandated exam that city educators and job applicants were required to take from 1993 to 2004.

More than 90 percent of white test-takers passed the 80-question multiple-choice quiz — one version of which asked teachers to explain the meaning of a painting by pop artist Andy Warhol.

But black applicants scored passing grades only between 51 and 62 percent of the time, and Latinos had an even lower passing rate, just 47 to 55 percent.

The failures resulted in full-time teachers getting demoted to substitutes and prevented aspiring educators from getting hired.

Four teachers in 1996 first filed a suit over the test. They targeted both the state and city, but an appeals court ultimately let Albany off the hook since the city is the teachers’ employer.

The test was ruled discriminatory in 2012 by the third Manhattan federal judge to handle the case — which included a two-month nonjury trial and repeated trips to an appeals court.