It took a lawsuit from the United Federation of Teachers for the city's Department of Education to release hundreds of pages of emails between education officials and supporters of expanding charter schools in New York City. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed this report.
Hundreds of pages of emails sent by the New York City Department of Education to supporters of charter school expansion were released Friday.
The teacher's union requested the emails through a Freedom of Information Act request in May 2010. When the city still had not released anything by last month, the union sued.
The city says that Friday's emails are just the first batch of up to 10,000 emails.
There are no "smoking guns" in the first batch of emails, but they do make it clear that charter school advocates have enjoyed a cozy relationship with City Hall, particularly former schools chancellor Joel Klein.
The question is whether the city officials overstepped boundaries by collaborating so closely with activists behind the scenes.
DOE officials said Friday that this is all very normal and is how government works.
They said that if union leader emails would show the same type of behind-the-scenes collaboration with activists.
Since the union leaders are private citizens, those emails are not subject to being released under Freedom of Information Act.
Klein and the charter activists corresponded frequently, sometimes several times a day in 2009 and 2010. They often discussed the teachers union and how to counteract it with legislators. They viewed then-Gov. David Paterson as an ally, but one that needed frequent “shoring up.”
The emails also revealed that Klein and the activists got Mayor Michael Bloomberg to call Albany legislators personally or praise them publicly by name when they felt it was necessary.
The former Chancellor and activists also frequently discussed how they could influence media coverage of the charter school issue and wrote op-ed stories for newspapers. In one case, they got a powerful Brooklyn Reverend to put his name on an op-ed story that seems to have actually been written by someone in City Hall.