Posted on July 17, 2023

Black, Hispanic NYers Who Failed Teacher’s Test Strike $1.8B in NYC Settlement

Rich Calder et al., New York Post, July 15, 2023

Failing the New York State teachers’ exam really paid off — especially for a Queens man who learned this month he’s getting a $2 million windfall over it.

Roughly 5,200 black and Hispanic ex-Big Apple teachers and once-aspiring educators are expected to collect more than $1.8 billion in judgments after the city stopped fighting a nearly three-decade federal discrimination lawsuit that found a certification exam was biased.

It’s the largest legal payout in city history.

As of Friday, 225 people who failed the Liberal Arts and Sciences Test used for teacher licensing from 1994 to 2014 had already been notified they’re getting settlements of at least $1 million, according to an analysis of Manhattan federal court records.

Court rulings found the exam violated civil-rights laws, allowing far more white candidates to pass.

The case is expected to generate hundreds of other future million-dollar awards.

Herman Grim, 64, of Queens, on July 5 was awarded the biggest judgment to date — a jaw-dropping $2,055,383.

It includes $1,583,114 in back pay for time never clocked, lost interest accrued, and other compensation.

Other top winners include Andrea Durant, 62, of Center Moriches on Long Island, who scored $1,976,787, and the estate of the late Kathy Faye Bailey of Queens, who was awarded $1,875,119.

The judgments are based on what the teachers and teacher candidates would have earned had they passed the test and kept working in the city’s public school system.

Typically, the further back they failed the test, the more money plaintiffs are entitled to.

Under an agreement ironed out in November 2021 during then-Mayor Bill de Blasio’s final weeks in office, the city agreed to set aside more than $1.8 billion in funds to pay off the plaintiffs through 2028.

But the cost to taxpayers is expected to be significantly higher because they’ll also be footing the bill for many of the plaintiffs to collect pension checks based on time never worked after they reach retirement age, plus their health insurance.

So far, more than $750 million in judgments have been awarded to 2,959 of the 5,200 plaintiffs.

Some judgments are as low as several hundred dollars.

The remaining plaintiffs’ claims are being assessed by a court-appointed special master, who already racked up more than $8 million in fees at taxpayers’ expense.

The city is also on the hook for the plaintiff’s lawyer’s fees, a sum that totaled more than $43 million last year.


When contacted Thursday, Grim said he was unaware he struck gold but confirmed the award the following day with his lawyer.

Grim said he’s in disbelief but the money can’t come fast enough because he’s racked up serious debt on his Queens home and credit cards.

He couldn’t recite examples of why the test was biased.

But Grim recalled hiring private tutors and studying for it during the early 1990s, before failing many times.

“I can’t tell you how many times I took them. A lot! A lot!” he said.


One Brooklyn principal said the city was “crazy” to settle the case.

“The standards are the standards,” he said. “It shouldn’t be based on what would be easy for blacks or whites. To hire people who are not qualified and change the requirements because a certain group didn‘t pass the test is bulls–t.”


A 2003 trial ended in the city’s favor, but the tests were ruled discriminatory in 2012 by the third Manhattan federal judge to handle the case.


More than 90% of white test-takers passed the 80-question multiple-choice and essay Liberal Arts and Sciences Test between March 1993 and June 1995 {snip}

But black applicants on average scored passing grades only 53% of the time, and Latinos had an even lower passing rate, just 50%, according to the lawsuit.


Lawyers for the plaintiffs brought in experts who testified that much of the discrepancy in scores could be attributed to some of the questions being culturally biased in favor of whites.