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Major Lawsuit Aimed at Teachers’ Tenure Is Proceeding, Says Judge

By Nigel Boys

According to the education advocacy group, Students Matter, many poorly equipped teachers are being kept on in public schools, in California, because of the state rules regarding dismissal of inadequate teachers.

The group has taken the matter to court on behalf of nine California students who believe they are not getting a fair chance at a good education because of the poor methods of their teachers.

Attorney Theodore Boutrous, representing the advocacy group, said that California public school students are having their equal rights to a decent education violated every day by the statutes in California law regarding the dismissal of teachers.

Boutrous went on to say that teachers who are not up to the standard, if not actually grossly inadequate, are being placed in charge of students in low-income, underprivileged or rural areas, and the good teachers are being placed in more affluent areas.

One of the state’s laws, which the plaintiff’s argue against, is the rule which allows teachers, even if they are incompetent, to be permanently hired by administrators after serving with the school for 18 months, because after this time they must either be retained or replaced.

Another problem with California’s statutes requires that in order for a teacher to be dismissed from service, strict protocol has to be followed, including the documentation for several years of their incompetency. This requires a large amount of public funds for the gathering of this information, state the plaintiffs.

Lastly, the plaintiffs object to the rule of “last-in, first out” statue, which prohibits administrators from laying-off lousy teachers if they have served longer in their schools than another teacher, who might possibly be a much better educator.

In defense of the teachers and the state and asking that the case be dismissed, James Finberg, representative for the California Teachers Association and California Federation of Teachers, said that the plaintiffs had failed to provide evidence that students were being harmed by the statutes.

Finberg continued “The statutes don’t assign teachers. Districts and principals assign teachers. The reality of students being in inner-city schools is not caused by these statutes.”

However, Los Angeles Superior Court, Judge Rolf Treu, sided with the plaintiffs and allowed the trial to continue. The hearing began in January this year.

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