2012-12-14 / Top Stories

Court Appoints Monitor In LAST Lawsuit

By Howard Schwach

The city could be liable for as much as $455 million in damages after Federal Judge Kimba Woods ruled last week that the city’s Liberal Arts and Science Test (LAST), used as a teacher certification test for years, discriminated against black and Hispanic candidates.

The case follows in the heels of a similar case where Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled that the city’s firefighter test discriminated against minority candidates and appointed a former prosecutor to monitor the hiring of firefighters.

“The decision makes clear that the city’s use of LAST both to deny permanent positions to teacher applicants and to cut salaries and benefits of in-service teachers was unlawful,” said Joshua Sohn, the plaintiff’s lead attorney. “The court recognized that the LAST provided no reliable information about the qualifications or abilities of the affected teachers.”

The case has been in the court system for 16 years and records show that the great majority of plaintiff’s are actually working as teachers.

The test has been used to evaluate potential teachers in New York State since 1996, officials say and is still in use today.

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