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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Thu, May 20, 2004

CFE Calls On Court To Immediately Appoint Special Master To Oversee Education Reform

CFE asked Justice Leland DeGrasse to immediately appoint a special master if Court deadline is not met

In an effort to accelerate state action that ensures school children the opportunity to a sound basic education, Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) today asked Justice Leland DeGrasse, the State Supreme Court judge empowered to monitor compliance with the Court of Appeals’ order in CFE v. State of New York, to immediately appoint a special master.

“We are taking this step to ensure that action is taken before the next school year,” stated Michael A. Rebell, CFE Executive Director and Counsel. “The Court of Appeals required action this year – not next year or the year after that.”

In a May 20th letter to the Court submitted by CFE, Joseph Wayland, co-counsel for CFE, said that New York’s schoolchildren would continue to be deprived of their right to the opportunity for a sound basic education if the governor and the legislature fail to act by the July 30, 2004 deadline established by the Court of Appeals. Justice DeGrasse has already indicated his intent to appoint a special master if the deadline is not met. Given the impasse in Albany on developing a compliance plan, CFE is now asking the court to expedite the appointment of the special master. CFE also informed Justice DeGrasse that it is prepared to submit the names of specific nominees for the special master position.

Courts faced with complex cases will sometimes select and appoint a special master to assist them in examining compliance. There is an emerging trend toward appointing special masters in school funding cases. Courts use special masters for efficiency, expertise, and timeliness. CFE also requested that the special master convene a hearing as soon as possible to determine precisely what actions are necessary to comply with the Court of Appeals’ order. In addition, CFE asked the court to require Governor Pataki to inform the court at a hearing scheduled for June 4th whether he endorses any of the recommendations of the Commission on Education Reform (“the Zarb Commission”). “Its time for the Governor to take a stand,” said Rebell. “It is his responsibility to lead the state in finding solutions to our educational problems.”

Special masters have been appointed in a number of other states, such as New Jersey, Idaho, and Arkansas, to help resolve school funding cases that are hindered by legislative inaction.

Parents from across the state march on the Capitol in Albany to show support for CFE.
CFE Litigation CFE v. State of New York
In 2006, after 13 years in the Courts, the New York State Court of Appeals affirmed the right of every public school student in New York to the opportunity for a sound basic education and the state’s responsibility to adequately fund this right, but deferred to the Governor and the Legislature to determine the appropriate amount. more >