Cathie Black may be gone, but parents, students and teachers are still suffering from the damage she caused during her brief tenure as schools chancellor – and the mayor should pay, according to a parents' group that plans to sue the mayor for $100 million in damages.
A Notice of Claim (see full claim in photo gallery) for the suit was filed today by a group of public school parents led by Chris Owens, an area Brooklyn district leader and one of 14 petitioners .
The suit will be against Mayor Michael Bloomberg personally, saying Black's appointment was a “misfeasance of office."
The group is demanding the money from Bloomberg's personal coffers – plus a personal apology.
“The reality here is that the mayor preceded incompetently,” said Owens, saying there was no national or even local search or other "rational process" for the appointment.
“If you see an incompetent act, and you have recourse under the law, why should we not step up and take advantage of it?” he said, adding that since Bloomberg is a lame-duck mayor, the public really has no other recourse to show their displeasure.
Asked if he thought $100 million might be a tad high, Owens said, “He spent $100 million on his mayoral campaign, he’s a billionaire.”
He added, “How do you put a value on the education of 1.1 million kids? … We feel that the damage was significant.”
City Hall dismissed the litigation as a publicity ploy.
“This suit so lacks merit, it’s not even worth me commenting,” said Kate O’Brien-Ahlers, press director for the New York City Law Department.
Even Owens admits one of the suit’s primary purposes is to make a point, saying that the mayor’s “incompetence” should have more of a consequence then “a couple of days of bad press.”
“This is really a message for the next mayor,” he said.
The Notice of Claim, which explains the nature of the lawsuit, was filed with the Office of New York City Comptroller John Liu by 14 parents and the newly formed New York City Parents Union on behalf of all New York City public school parents.
It claims that Bloomberg was guilty of “misfeasance of office” in appointing Black because he should have known it wasn't "in the best interests of the system."
The money would be used for teacher development and training “as compensation for the damage to the morale and performance of staff," according a news release from Advocates for Justice, the public interest law firm filing the suit.