On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood ruled that New York City’s Board of Education had discriminated against black and Latino teachers. The discrimination was found in the requirement to pass a standardized test to become licensed to teach in city schools. The test was not properly validated.
Though the ruling came in favour of the plaintiffs in a class action, and it allows the plaintiffs ways to evaluate whether the current version of the test still contains the invalid provisions used from 1996 to 2000, the judge decertified the class, because it was seeking back pay.
The decision to decertify the class followed the standard of review established in Wal Mart Stores Inc v Dukes which restricts the scope of plaintiffs to group together in class actions. However, according to lawyers for the plaintiffs, the ruling could allow hundreds of teachers to seek damages individually, or to group into classes that meet the requirements of class certification.
The instant lawsuit was filed way back in 1996 by four teachers belonging to the African American, and Latino communities, who alleged that the testing practices of the NY State Education Department and those of the New York Board of Education were discriminatory.
The lawsuit had alleged that the tests were created in a manner so that white teachers qualified at a much higher rate than either blacks or Latinos. First time test takers from Latino and African American communities had a success rate less than 60 percent, but whites had a success rate of 90.25 percent.
The lawsuit had also claimed that about 8,000 to 15,000 teachers have suffered termination, demotion, or reduced pay and other losses due to their failure to pass the standardized tests.
While giving his ruling, Wood opined that the class could be maintained intact for the purpose of seeking a court finding that the board violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.