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RTA Lawsuit

Rochester Teachers Association files a lawsuit against New York State for unfair teacher evaluations.
Teachers in the Rochester School District are suing New York State over their evaluations.  Teachers claim the state doesn't take poverty into consideration when grading them.
This lawsuit was filed Monday in New York State Supreme Court in Albany.  Teachers in urban and rural areas say there are too many things out of their control.
Matt Lavonas has taught fourth grade at Rochester's Clara Barton School for 14 years.   Matt's recent evaluation came back as "developing,"  a grade three points shy of "effective."
He scored "high" on personal achievement, but students test scores brought his overall grade down.  

"We have to deal a lot with just getting kids fed.  Clothed properly. Come in ready for school.  A lot of times that's hard, coming from where we come from.  Our kids go through a lot just to get in the door," said Matt Lavonas, Rochester teacher.

Matt is not alone.  The lawsuit filed by the Rochester Teachers Association claims 34% of city teachers were rated "inneffective" or "developing  compared to 3% of teachers in the suburbs. RTA President Adam Urbanski says the evaluation is unfair.

"We have kids who don't speak a word of English, taking a test only in English, and then getting very low scores.  Of course.  Then the scores are used to punish teachers.  Ridiculous.  We don't have enough adjustment for absenteeism.  So if a kid doesn't show up for class or for a test, the teacher is punished.  Ridiculous," said Adam Urbanski, RTA President.

Lavonas says urban and rural teachers face similar challenges.  And the state didn't take that into consideration.

"They knew that they didn't have it together to roll it out, and they rolled it out anyways," said Lavonas.

The lawsuit has been filed because teachers who get bad ratings could be disciplined or fired.
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