Professors claim CUNY violated open meetings law; judge orders full hearing

NEW YORK — A judge granted a full evidentiary hearing June 17 to decide whether the board of trustees of the City University of New York violated open meetings laws during a vote to phase out remedial education.

At the hearing set for July 20, a judge will determine whether to grant an injunction against the implementation of the trustees’ vote.

William Crain, a professor of psychology at City College, and David Sucker, a graduate student from the same college, added the new charges to their three-year-old suit against the CUNY Board of Trustees for other violations of open meetings laws.

They claim that the board of trustees held meetings in rooms too small to accommodate the expected crowds, limited public seating by packing the audience with their administrative staff and removed the entire audience when only a few members were being disruptive.

“It’s been very frustrating for students and faculty to wait and wait and not get in,” Crain said.

The case, originally filed in 1995, began when the trustees approved a retrenchment that eliminated faculty and departments. Students and faculty requested that meetings where the board discussed and voted on the issue be held in larger rooms so that the public could observe. The board refused.

“This has been going on for years,” Ron Minkoff, attorney for Crain and Sucker, said. “In 1995, we had a meeting, and they let in only three people.”

Minkoff said his clients also wanted to see a change in the preferential admissions policy.

“They are packing the room with ‘friendly people'” Minkoff said, referring to the reserved seating for administrative staff.

In late May, when the trustees voted to eliminate remedial education, they removed all but the press because some audience members were being disruptive. Those who resisted removal, including state Assemblyman Edward Sullivan, were arrested.

The attorney for the board of trustees declined to comment.

The judge is expected to rule on the preliminary injunction in late summer.