Allen Rubine

Allen P. Rubine

Superior Court Judge at Rhode Island

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Affiliations

Board of Regents  - Rhode Island

School Board Member  - Providence School Department

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Although the matter was redirected to the Rhode Island Board of Regents, Judge Rubine indicated strong support for our argument.
Superior Court Judge Allen P. Rubine yesterday denied the union's request for a preliminary injunction, which would have restored the original class size until the matter was resolved in court. Instead, Rubine ordered the union to make its arguments before the Board of Regents, which oversees the Rhode Island Department of Education. Rubine, however, did not answer the central question raised by the union: Does state Education Commissioner Peter McWalters have the legal authority to alter the state's special-education laws? According to Rubine, McWalters denied a similar class-size request from the Town of Johnston in 2005. Yesterday, Rubine said that he was inclined to agree that the commissioner's hands are tied when it comes to special-education laws. According to Rubine, the real question is whether the commissioner has the authority to tinker with class size under a state law called progressive support and intervention, which, according to lawyers for the state Education Department, gives McWalters broad authority to take control over school programs, personnel and budgets. Because Providence is one of six low-performing "intervention" districts, the commissioner's office says that the district is subject to progressive levels of state control. Rubine, however, expressed concern that the commissioner has "unbridled jurisdiction" to assert his authority over low-performing districts. "The Board of Regents will have to determine if the waiver is tied to the district's academic goals or whether [the district] was motivated by a funding inadequacy," Rubine said. "If the regents believe that the commissioner's actions are not related to improving student performance, then we would expect them to reject the variance." In denying the union's request for a preliminary injunction, Rubine said that the union had failed to demonstrate that students are being harmed under the increased class size. Finally, he ordered the commissioner's office to proceed with a hearing as soon as possible. On Tuesday, September 11, 2007 Rhode Island Superior Court Judge Allen P. Rubine heard arguments regarding the Providence Teachers Union complaint that Commissioner Peter McWalters exceeded his authority in approving the Providence School Board's request to increase Special Education class size in Providence. Judge Rubine has ordered written briefs to be filed no later than September 20, 2007 and has scheduled a formal hearing on September 28, 2007. To support, with particulars, our contention that the class size increase is harmful to our students, I have scheduled three (3) meetings with our attorney so that he may hear directly from you.

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Although the matter was redirected to the Rhode Island Board of Regents, Judge Rubine indicated strong support for our argument.
Superior Court Judge Allen P. Rubine yesterday denied the union's request for a preliminary injunction, which would have restored the original class size until the matter was resolved in court. Instead, Rubine ordered the union to make its arguments before the Board of Regents, which oversees the Rhode Island Department of Education. Rubine, however, did not answer the central question raised by the union: Does state Education Commissioner Peter McWalters have the legal authority to alter the state's special-education laws? According to Rubine, McWalters denied a similar class-size request from the Town of Johnston in 2005. Yesterday, Rubine said that he was inclined to agree that the commissioner's hands are tied when it comes to special-education laws. According to Rubine, the real question is whether the commissioner has the authority to tinker with class size under a state law called progressive support and intervention, which, according to lawyers for the state Education Department, gives McWalters broad authority to take control over school programs, personnel and budgets. Because Providence is one of six low-performing "intervention" districts, the commissioner's office says that the district is subject to progressive levels of state control. Rubine, however, expressed concern that the commissioner has "unbridled jurisdiction" to assert his authority over low-performing districts. "The Board of Regents will have to determine if the waiver is tied to the district's academic goals or whether [the district] was motivated by a funding inadequacy," Rubine said. "If the regents believe that the commissioner's actions are not related to improving student performance, then we would expect them to reject the variance." In denying the union's request for a preliminary injunction, Rubine said that the union had failed to demonstrate that students are being harmed under the increased class size. Finally, he ordered the commissioner's office to proceed with a hearing as soon as possible. Superior Court Judge Allen P. Rubine yesterday denied the union's request for a preliminary injunction, which would have restored the original class size until the matter was resolved in court. Instead, Rubine ordered the union to make its arguments before the Board of Regents, which oversees the Rhode Island Department of Education. Rubine, however, did not answer the central question raised by the union: Does state Education Commissioner Peter McWalters have the legal authority to alter the state's special-education laws? According to Rubine, McWalters denied a similar class-size request from the Town of Johnston in 2005. Yesterday, Rubine said that he was inclined to agree that the commissioner's hands are tied when it comes to special-education laws. According to Rubine, the real question is whether the commissioner has the authority to tinker with class size under a state law called progressive support and intervention, which, according to lawyers for the state Education Department, gives McWalters broad authority to take control over school programs, personnel and budgets. Because Providence is one of six low-performing "intervention" districts, the commissioner's office says that the district is subject to progressive levels of state control. Rubine, however, expressed concern that the commissioner has "unbridled jurisdiction" to assert his authority over low-performing districts. "The Board of Regents will have to determine if the waiver is tied to the district's academic goals or whether [the district] was motivated by a funding inadequacy," Rubine said. "If the regents believe that the commissioner's actions are not related to improving student performance, then we would expect them to reject the variance." In denying the union's request for a preliminary injunction, Rubine said that the union had failed to demonstrate that students are being harmed under the increased class size. Finally, he ordered the commissioner's office to proceed with a hearing as soon as possible. That is the question before Superior Court Judge Allen P. Rubine, who has been asked to rule on whether McWalters exceeded his authority in granting the Providence school district permission to increase the class size for special-education students from 10 to 12 students. On Sept. 8, Rubine decided not to order the district to reinstitute the original class size, saying that he wanted to review written arguments first. "This is sort of like the wild west," Rubine said. Rubine brought up a similar case involving the town of Johnston. Rubine concluded yesterday's hearing by saying that he would issue a decision Monday afternoon. The judge could rule on any number of issues: he could continue to hear evidence, grant the union's request for a preliminary injunction, deny the union's appeal or order the union to make its case before the regents.

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After hearing testimony in the case last fall, Judge Allen P. Rubine sent the matter to the regents because, he said, they set education policy for the state.
In his decision, Rubine said that the regents would have to determine whether McWalters granted the district's special education waiver because of valid educational reasons or whether his actions were motivated by a budget shortfall that an increase in class size would correct.

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