Finding arguments put forth by KIPP Academy to be “without merit,” the United States Court of Appeals today rejected an attempt by KIPP to use the federal court to avoid arbitrating a contract dispute with the United Federation of Teachers.
The court found that “the state court’s issuance of a decision on the merits is binding upon subsequent litigation between the parties, and required dismissal of KIPP’s federal suit.”
UFT General Counsel Adam Ross said, “Court after court has found that KIPP Academy needs to resolve these contract complaints rather than seeking to use the legal system to avoid its obligations.”
In June 2016, after receiving complaints from KIPP Academy teachers and staff that management was violating the teachers’ contract, the UFT applied for independent arbitration. KIPP sued in state court to prevent the arbitration.
In November 2016, a state Supreme Court Justice rejected KIPP Academy’s attempt to avoid arbitrating the dispute. KIPP then took its argument to federal court, where in May 2017 U.S. District Court Judge Deborah Batts also rejected the KIPP claim on that basis that litigants are prohibited “from seeking to reverse an adverse state court judgment by filing suit in federal court.”
Today’s Court of Appeals finding from the Second Circuit upheld the Judge Batts decision to dismiss KIPPs claims.
KIPP Academy is a former public school that was converted into a charter and as such the UFT continues to represent teachers and other pedagogical employees.