STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The legal battle over who will get to represent New York schoolchildren in the historic case to change the state’s teacher tenure laws came down to a “Davids v. Goliath’ scenario in St. George Thursday, between two rival advocacy groups seeking to bring the case to court, with the “little guys” scoring the first legal blow.
The New York City Parents Union, whose president, Mona Davids, a Bronx mother, and vice-president, Sam Pirozzolo, a Castleton Corners father of two, are plaintiffs in the lawsuit known as “Davids v. New York” which was filed in July in Staten Island Supreme Court, St. George.
The second advocacy organization, Partnership for Educational Justice, founded by former CNN news correspondent Campbell Brown, has thrown its support and resources behind the “Wright v. State of New York” lawsuit filed in Albany in August on behalf of seven New York state parents.
The first legal round went Thursday to the New York City Parents Union, the group representing Staten Island parents.
Supreme Court Justice Philip Minardo agreed in Staten Island Supreme Court, St. George, that the two cases would now be known as “Davids v. New York” — with the case to be heard in Supreme Court. State Attorney General Eric Schniderman had earlier called for consolidation of the two cases to reserve judicial resources.
At a news conference on the steps of Borough Hall just prior to the court proceeding, however, Ms. Davis and Pirozzolo got in some lively digs at Ms. Brown and her organization, accusing her of “bullying” law firms and other big-gun supporters of their suit to back down.
“We object to ‘outsiders’ like Campbell Borwn coming into New York City and saying we parents don’t know how to speak for ourselves and for our children,” Pirozzolo fumed.
John Collins, representing Brown’s group, issued a letter from the plaintiffs in the Wright suit, calling for unity. “Lets send a message to those who are watching (that) we stand together as parents in opposition to laws that benefit adults and hurt our children,” the letter reads.
Ms. Davids said the Brown suit is “backed by rich hedge-funders who believe New York City parents are not articulate, and don’t know how to speak for themselves and their own children.”
“We will not stand by and let Campbell Brown reform her image and career on the backs of poor, black and Hispanic children and families,” she said.