Man Who Failed Teacher’s Test Gets $2M After Court Case
A black man in New York City was awarded more than $2 million in lost compensation plus interest after repeatedly failing a mandatory teacher’s test that a court later determined was racially biased, leading to his success in court. Between 1993 and 1995, 90% of white teachers and prospective teachers who took the test passed, compared to just 53% of their black counterparts. Hispanic test-takers performed even worse, passing just 50% of the time. As a result, many full-time teachers were demoted to substitutes, and aspiring educators were prevented from getting hired.
In 1996, a class-action suit was filed against NYC’s Board of Education on behalf of Elsa Gulino and three other teachers. Even after a court ruled in favor of the city in 2003, the plaintiffs refused to give up and eventually secured a victory in 2012 when Manhattan federal Judge Kimba Wood claimed that the test violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The city has repeatedly claimed that it had no control over teacher testing, which was then mandated by the state.
The city exhausted its resources fighting the lawsuit and stopped fighting it in November 2021, just before Mayor Bill de Blasio left office. He earmarked $1.8 billion in payouts in connection to the suit.
As of July 2023, 225 people who failed the Liberal Arts and Sciences Test used for teacher licensing from 1994 to 2014 had already been notified they’re getting settlements of at least $1 million, according to an analysis of Manhattan federal court records. The case is expected to generate hundreds of other future million-dollar awards.
Herman Grim, 64, of Queens, was awarded the biggest judgment to date — a jaw-dropping $2,055,383. Other top winners include Andrea Durant, 62, of Center Moriches on Long Island, who scored $1,976,787, and the estate of the late Kathy Faye Bailey of Queens, who was awarded $1,875,119.
Meet Herman Grim, who was just awarded $2,055,383 from New York State.
He was one of the minority ‘victims’ that a ‘racist’ teacher test used for teacher licensing robbed him from pursuing his career and sharing his amazing intellect with New York students.
You can see how well… pic.twitter.com/Qy75hmPhoB
— I Meme Therefore I Am 🇺🇸 (@ImMeme0) July 18, 2023
The judgments are based on what the teachers and teacher candidates would have earned had they passed the test and kept working in the city’s public school system.
The payouts have many critics flabbergasted, arguing that the city would have been better off hiring the failed test-takers in the first place. “All this money for nothing — nothing!” said Arthur Goldstein, a retired teacher from Queens. “I’ve been teaching in … overcrowded classrooms in miserable conditions when we could’ve had more teachers working. Instead, we just have the city paying [money] for no reason at all. It’s ridiculous.”
But at least one Brooklyn principal disagreed. “The standards are the standards,” he said. “It shouldn’t be based on what would be easy for blacks or whites. To hire people who are not qualified and change the requirements because a certain group didn’t pass the test is bull***.”
Grim claimed he will put much of his newfound money toward paying off credit card debt. “I want to stay as normal as possible,” he told the Post. “I’m not going to be a millionaire.”
Judgments may be awarded to as many as 5,200 failed test-takers like Grim. Thus far, about 3,000 judgments have been issued, ranging from a few hundred dollars to Grim’s $2 million. At least 225 awardees have received at least $1 million. And many of these recipients will continue to receive money well into the future, as some judgments will provide recipients with a pension and health insurance once they pass retirement age.