Second Suit Challenges Waiver for Chancellor

A group of public school parents and advocates, including a member of the Assembly, filed suit in State Supreme Court in Albany on Tuesday to stop Cathleen P. Black from becoming the next city schools chancellor.

The suit, whose plaintiffs include Hakeem Jeffries, an assemblyman from Brooklyn, is the second legal challenge to Ms. Black’s appointment. Last Friday, Eric J. Snyder, a Brooklyn parent and bankruptcy attorney, also sued for her appointment to be annulled.

The new suit argues that David M. Steiner, the state education commissioner, erred in interpreting the law or acted arbitrarily when he decided to grant Ms. Black a waiver that allows her to become the next chancellor without educational credentials.

In a compromise, Dr. Steiner granted the waiver after the city agreed to appoint a senior deputy with strong educational credentials to serve under Ms. Black. But the law, the suit argues, does not allow the commissioner to rely “upon the educational qualifications of the staff the candidate is to supervise” as a substitute for her own qualifications.

The suit also repeats an argument made by Mr. Snyder, stating that while the law allows the commissioner to excuse Ms. Black’s lack of teaching experience and graduate courses in education, she must still have a master’s degree of some sort.

Ms. Black, 66, a successful publishing executive, holds only a bachelor’s degree in English from Trinity University in Washington.

Norman Siegel, the civil rights lawyer who will be the lead counsel in the case, said he expected the court in Albany to consider his and Mr. Snyder’s suit together. Oral arguments in Mr. Snyder’s case are scheduled for Dec. 23.

A spokesman for the state Department of Education, Tom Dunn, said Tuesday that the department had been notified of the suit, but that he would not comment on pending litigation.

Among the plaintiffs are members of a group called the Deny Waiver Coalition, a collection of parent groups critical of how the mayor has managed the city’s 1,600 schools. They include Khem Irby, the former president of the Community Education Council for District 13 in Brooklyn; Lydia Bellahcene and Julie Cavanaugh, members of Community Advocates for Public Education; Mona Davids, the president of the New York Charter Parents Association; and Noah E. Gotbaum, the president of the Community Education Council for District 3 in Manhattan.

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