A Judge Said He Would Reverse New York City’s School Budget


A judge in Manhattan said on Thursday morning that he was planning to vacate New York City’s recently adopted education budget and give City Council members the opportunity to revisit their vote.

Mayor Eric Adams’s city budget, which the City Council approved in June, proposed more than $200 million in cuts to public schools for the upcoming school year because of declines in student enrollment, although the exact amount of the cuts has been in dispute. The decrease in funding would have affected about 1,200 city public schools, or two-thirds of the system, according to an analysis by Chalkbeat, an education news site.

The judge, Justice Lyle E. Frank of the State Supreme Court, made the statement after a hearing in which a lawyer for the city and lawyers representing parents and public school teachers argued over whether the budget had been adopted through the proper procedures.

A lawsuit filed by parents and teachers contends that the Education Department made a procedural error and violated the law when it presented the budget to the City Council before allowing the Panel for Education Policy, a governing body largely appointed by the mayor, to hold a public meeting on it and vote on it. The city delayed the meeting and vote through an emergency declaration. Justice Frank criticized the move, which some parents and teachers said had deprived the City Council of crucial information.

A lawyer for the city, Jeffrey Dantowitz, told the judge that the Education Department’s actions had been “completely consistent” with the law and said that to revisit the budget at this point would risk plunging the city into chaos.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, Arthur Schwartz, countered that there was no evidence that a genuine emergency had existed at the time of the declaration, saying: “That’s not comporting with the law, that’s skirting the law.”

The administration said it had planned to offset some of the cuts in the approved budget using federal pandemic relief funds, but principals, teachers and students have protested for months against the cuts. They have argued that the amount schools were losing was still substantial and had forced principals to slash teaching positions and enrichment programs just as school was starting to feel “normal” again after pandemic disruptions and as educators had hoped they could continue to recoup losses in the pace of student learning.

On Thursday morning before hearing news of the judge’s decision, Mr. Adams said at an unrelated news conference that he would comply with whatever the judge said. The mayor defended his stance on school budget cuts and reiterated that enrollment had dropped.

“Leadership is about making tough decisions,” he said. Asked about criticism from Adrienne Adams, the City Council speaker, who called recent school budget adjustments by Mr. Adams a “charade,” the mayor said that the leaders would not agree on every issue.

“Sometimes we disagree, but we shouldn’t be disagreeable,” he said.

The judge will be issuing a written order, but he signaled his skepticism of the use of the emergency declaration in the hearing on Thursday, saying: “At this point it seems almost…



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