NEW YORK (June 28, 2006) — McDermott Will & Emery has achieved a significant victory on behalf of the 25,000 school children of Yonkers, New York. McDermott filed a lawsuit last year against the State of New York on behalf of a non-profit organization, Citizens for Yonkers (CFY) and the Yonkers Board of Education, seeking additional state funding for Yonkers schools. Yonkers is the fifth largest city in the State of New York. Its student population consists mainly of minorities and recent immigrants.
McDermott's complaint asserted that the state’s funding formula was inequitable and inadequate, in violation of the New York State Constitution's requirement that the state provide children with a "sound basic education," and the Equal Protection Clause of the State and Federal Constitutions. As the complaint explained, absent its receipt of a significant increase in state funding, the school district would have needed to cut back drastically on critical programs and layoff as much as 50 percent of its workforce. Elliot Spitzer, the New York Attorney General, handled the case for the state.
Through McDermott's efforts, Yonkers received a record increase in state funding for its schools, all of which is recurring. This increase, which will exceed $750 million over a 10 year period, effectively saved the school district from disaster and forestalled the need for drastic layoffs and cuts.
McDermott's strategy contrasted with the strategy employed by litigants who had brought a similar lawsuit against the state, albeit of behalf of New York City school children, over one decade ago. Despite the fact that those plaintiffs prevailed at trial in 2001, the case has still not been resolved, with the effect that New York City school children have yet to receive any monies as a result of the lawsuit. By contrast, Yonkers school children received tens of millions of dollars stemming from their lawsuit, within a year of the suit being filed.
McDermott's New York trial team was lead by partners Peter Sacripanti and John Calandra, and included partners Banks Brown, Cari Schiff and Lisa Linsky and associates Amanda Brown, Jason Casero, Michael Huttenlocher, Kevin Bishop and Michael Dillon.