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Case Name Matter of North Syracuse Cent. School Dist. v New York State Div. of Human Rights ED-NY-0005
Docket / Court 09-7473 ( State Court )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Education
Attorney Organization Lambda Legal
Case Summary
This case was filed in the Supreme Court of New York in the late 2000s on behalf of students in public schools who were subjected to discrimination and harassment. They claimed that under New York's Human Rights Law (Executive Law § 290, et seq.), it was the schools' responsibility to stop this ... read more >
This case was filed in the Supreme Court of New York in the late 2000s on behalf of students in public schools who were subjected to discrimination and harassment. They claimed that under New York's Human Rights Law (Executive Law § 290, et seq.), it was the schools' responsibility to stop this discrimination.

The defendants, two New York school districts, claimed that because they were public schools, as opposed to private, non-secular schools, they did not fall within the scope of the legislation.

After a series of rulings by the lower courts, on June 12, 2012, the New York Court of Appeals (Judge Eugene F. Piggott, Jr.) ruled that because the language in the Human Rights Law was modeled after the Real Property Tax Law of 1896 (which only covered private, non-secular schools), the legislature must have meant that the Human Rights Law should not apply to public schools. Judge Piggott noted that his "holding is not to be interpreted as indifference to [the Plaintiffs'] plight, since the merits of their underlying discrimination claims are not at issue on these appeals. Nor does our holding leave public school students without a remedy. In addition to potential remedies under federal law, public school students may file a complaint with the Commissioner of Education." Matter of North Syracuse Cent. School Dist. v New York State Div. of Human Rights, 2012 WL 2092954 (N.Y. June 12, 2012).

In a bitter dissent, Judge Carmen Ciparick argued that the New York constitution equal protection clause prohibits public and private discrimination, and that the Human Rights Law should be liberally construed to include public schools. She noted that while victims of race discrimination have an adequate remedy through federal law, this holding was a particularly strong blow to the LGBT community, which is only afforded remedy through state law.

As of this writing, the Plaintiffs have yet to petition the Supreme Court of the United States for certiorari.

Joshua Arocho - 07/27/2012


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) The New York State Division of Human Rights
Plaintiff Description Students in New York public schools who were subjected to discrimination and harassment.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Lambda Legal
Class action status sought None on record
Class action status granted Unknown
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Courts and Kids: Pursuing Educational Equity Through the State Courts
By: Michael Rebell (Columbia University, and Campaign for Educational Equity)
Citation: (University of Chicago Press, 2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Untitled 04/01/2011 (83 A.D.3d 1472)
ED-NY-0005-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Untitled 06/30/2011 (929 N.Y.S.2d 97)
ED-NY-0005-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Brief of Amici Curiae 10/19/2011
ED-NY-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
Untitled 06/12/2012 (950 N.Y.S.2d 67)
ED-NY-0005-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Sharply Divided New York Court of Appeals Rules Human Rights Law Does Not Apply to Student Discrimination Claims Against Public Schools 06/12/2012
ED-NY-0005-0003.pdf | Detail
Judges Ciparick, Carmen Beauchamp (State Appellate Court)
ED-NY-0005-0001
Pigott, Eugene F. Jr. (State Appellate Court)
ED-NY-0005-0001
Stein, Sidney H. (S.D.N.Y.)
ED-NY-0005-0004
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers None on record
Defendant's Lawyers None on record
Other Lawyers Gorenberg, Hayley J. (New York)
ED-NY-0005-0002
Ude, Thomas W. Jr. (New York)
ED-NY-0005-0002

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