Posted on July 14, 2022

Black, Latino Teachers Collecting $835 Million in Discrimination Lawsuit

Sara Randazzo, Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2022

Thousands of Black and Latino former teachers in New York City stand to collect more than $1 billion after the city recently stopped fighting a decadeslong discrimination lawsuit that found a licensing test was biased.

The concession by the city in recent months means around 4,700 onetime New York City teachers who were demoted or fired since 1995 because they couldn’t pass the state licensing exam can go to court to collect a piece of the funds. So far, $835 million in judgments have been awarded to more than half that group, and the city said it would set aside nearly $1.8 billion in the coming years to cover all potential claims.


The state required the Liberal Arts and Sciences Test for teacher licensing from the 1990s until 2014. A group of teachers sued New York City and state agencies in 1996, alleging the test’s use was discriminatory and violated employment laws.

The teachers showed in court that white test takers passed at statistically significant higher rates than Black and Latino test takers. At times, over 90% of white test takers passed, compared with fewer than 62% of Black test takers and 55% of Latinos.

A pivotal 2012 court ruling found the test violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, in part because it didn’t relate to what teachers do in the classroom and wasn’t an indicator of better-performing teachers.

Sylvia Alvarez is one of those former New York City teachers benefiting from the case, through a $1.1 million judgment she is now collecting payments on.

Ms. Alvarez tried 10 times to pass the exam before she lost her teaching job in Brooklyn in 2003. {snip}


The Liberal Arts and Sciences Test contained 80 multiple-choice questions and one essay covering math, science, humanities, history, communication skills and other topics. An expert hired by the teachers at a 2002 trial testified that part of the discrepancy in passing rates could have been due to cultural knowledge underpinning the questions.


Theodore Regis, 57, lost his New York teaching job in 2003 after failing the exam five times. The court awarded him a $1.2 million judgment.