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Black man in NYC who failed teacher's test many times will receive over $2 million in compensation after court determines test was racist
Screenshot of New York Post video (Featured: Herman Grim)

Black man in NYC who failed teacher's test many times will receive over $2 million in compensation after court determines test was racist

A black man in New York City appears to have failed his way into millions of dollars. According to a report from the New York Post, he has been awarded more than $2 million in supposed lost compensation plus interest after he repeatedly failed a mandatory teacher's test that a court later determined was racially biased.

On July 5, Herman Grim, 64, of Queens was awarded $2,055,383 as part of a series of judgments expected to cost NYC perhaps more than $2 billion. The judgments stem from the Liberal Arts and Sciences Test, which all NYC teachers and prospective teachers were required to pass in order to receive a teaching license between 1994 and 2014. 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.

Because of the supposed "disparate impact" of the test, a class-action suit was filed against NYC's Board of Education in 1996. 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 Post reported. The city has repeatedly claimed that it had no control over teacher testing, which was then mandated by the state.

Eventually, the city exhausted its resources — and perhaps its will — to continue fighting and stopped fighting the lawsuit. In November 2021, just before he left office, Mayor Bill de Blasio earmarked $1.8 billion in payouts in connection to the suit. Thus far, Grim, who took the test multiple times in the 1990s but never passed, has been granted the largest judgment.

"I can’t tell you how many times I took them. A lot! A lot!" Grim told the Post in an interview that was occasionally interrupted by the chirp of a smoke detector. He could not provide the outlet with any examples of racial bias in the test.

Though several failed attempts to pass the test might have put a teaching career out of reach for most applicants, Grim defied the odds. He opened a preschool business in the mid-90s and kept it open until 2015. He also spent time as a substitute teacher in the city until last year when he passed the current certification exam and became a special education teacher in Harlem.

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.

In addition to paying out those judgments, the city — funded by taxpayers — has shelled out $8 million to a special master appointed by the court to assess and allocate the payments as well as a whopping $43 million in fees to the plaintiffs' attorney.

So much money has been spent fighting the lawsuit and now paying out judgments and fees that some argue 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 bulls***."

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."

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Cortney Weil

Cortney Weil

Sr. Editor, News

Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News.
@cortneyweil →