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Principals Union Sues After City Refuses to Reinstate Parking Perks

12:06 PM EDT on September 2, 2009

The Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, the union representing public school principals and other administrative personnel, wants free parking for its members, and is suing the city to get it.

Last year, the number of placards issued by the Department of Education -- some 63,000 -- was reduced to bring it in line with the number of on-street spots allotted to schools. The DOE cuts were part of a broader crackdown intended to bring order to a largely unregulated system rife with abuse, wherein placards issued regularly exceeded available spaces and parking agents often could not tell a legitimate permit from a fraudulent one.

While the United Federation of Teachers eventually came to an agreement with the city, CSA balked at the cuts, and won an arbitration ruling in August determining that the placards should be reissued under the terms of its contract. But as Gotham Schools reports, the ensuing two weeks brought no resolution, and yesterday CSA filed a lawsuit against the city, DOE, and Mayor Bloomberg.

"Nobody has gotten an answer from the City about why it won't honor the arbitration," a spokeswoman for CSA, Chiara Coletti, wrote in an email. Coletti said that the decision not to reinstate the 6,500 permits came from the mayor's office.

Jason Post, a spokesman for the mayor, did not address whether the city felt it was in compliance with the arbitrator's decision, but said the current system should continue.

"For most City agencies and their workers the system has worked well for over a year, yet the CSA has stubbornly tried to hold onto their perks and has refused to work with us to combat misuse and abuse. The current system for the Department of Education limits the number of placards to the number of parking spots at schools, a fair and reasonable policy that we think should continue. We have not yet received the legal papers for this case," Post wrote in an email.

In a press release announcing the suit, CSA President Ernest A. Logan said that, without the placards, administrators "who travel from school to school, particularly those working in the outer boroughs, could be forced to continue cruising around city streets for hours a day, polluting the environment, and sacrificing time that they need to serve our children."

And just how many administrators travel during the school day? Considering that CSA by its own account represents a total of about 6,400 school supervisors, it's obviously far fewer than the 6,500 placards -- or even the 5,000 reported by the Post -- the union is demanding. Not to mention the fact that the fewer permits issued, the less trouble floating administrators would have finding a spot. But who cares about facts and logic when you can just yell "My parking perk is good for the children!" and leave it at that. 

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