Nassau Community College in Garden City on Tuesday.

Nassau Community College in Garden City on Tuesday. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau Community College’s teachers union and individual faculty members have filed legal action against the college and the school’s board of trustees seeking to block a proposed consolidation of departments that they argue will hurt students academically and wasn’t properly approved, according to court documents filed Monday.

The lawsuit, filed by the Nassau Community College Federation of Teachers, its leadership and four faculty members, challenges the recent decision to eliminate 15 academic departments. College officials had proposed this plan to deal with dwindling enrollment and put the school, which is facing a multimillion dollar deficit, on a more secure financial path. The plan did not call for layoffs of tenured staff. It is scheduled to go into effect Aug. 1.

The suit is seeking a judgment that declares college officials “acted improperly and unlawfully by eliminating 15 academic departments and/or 15 academic department chairpersons, and that said action constituted gross error and was arbitrary, capricious, a violation of lawful procedure and made in bad faith.”

The action asks the court to block the merger and restore all departments, including reinstating “the department chairperson as head of each academic department.” 

Nassau Community College officials said Tuesday the suit is “frivolous.”

“It has no merit and we followed everything by the letter of the law,” said Jerry Kornbluth, the college’s vice president for community and governmental relations. “This is for moving the college forward and … to make the college more efficient and save money in the long run.”

The Federation of Teachers said in a news release the proposed restructuring contradicts the college’s strategic plan and the objectives of the SUNY Guided Pathways initiative, which aims to improve student outcomes through structured educational experiences and support.

“This decision by the college’s administration not only threatens the quality of education at Nassau Community College but also undermines the very foundation of academic support that our students rely on. We are committed to ensuring that the College adheres to its legal and ethical obligations,” said NCCFT president Faren Siminoff.

The plan also puts accreditation of the school's nursing program at risk, according to the court documents, by eliminating the nursing department and having the program administered by a non-nursing academic officer. Similar accreditation issues exist for other educational offerings, including mortuary science, court papers show.

The suit also names Nassau County as a defendant.

Officials with Nassau Community College, in Garden City, have said that the school is facing a roughly $14 million deficit in the 2024-25 budget. Officials said increasing contractual health care and retirement costs have contributed to the deficit.

The county legislature approved the school's $184 million operating budget Monday.

Enrollment at Nassau Community College has sharply dropped over the years. In 2011, about 24,000 students attended the school compared with about 11,000 now.

The case is scheduled to be heard at the Nassau County Courthouse on July 29.

With Scott Eidler

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