Lawsuit Filed to Change Teacher Tenure Laws - New York News

Lawsuit Filed to Change Teacher Tenure Laws

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(FOX 11/ CNS) - Testifying in a trial calling into question the constitutionality of five laws granting tenure and other employment protections to teachers statewide, Los Angeles Unified's superintendent said today the district has hired some educators who proved to be grossly ineffective and that the process of removing them can cost more than $1 million and take up to a decade to complete.

John Deasy said he does not believe that the tenure determination deadline for a probationary teacher -- which is roughly a year and a half into their first two years on the job -- is enough of a window period to decide whether to grant an educator permanent certification.

"There is no way this is a sufficient amount of time in my opinion to make that incredibly important judgment," Deasy told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu, who is hearing the non-jury trial.

In what Deasy said was a "bizarre twist," California requires than an opinion be made on whether to grant tenure before the complete support mechanism on the teacher's behalf can be put in place.

The plaintiffs in the case allege the laws violate students' constitutional rights to an equal education. The lawsuit filed in May 2012 names the state and two teacher unions that later intervened as defendants, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers.

According to Deasy, the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education has approved every recommendation he has made since he took office in April 2011 to initiate termination proceedings against a teacher. He said the typical case costs $250,000 to $450,000 and takes one to two years to complete.

However, he said that two more recent cases took much longer and that the costs through appeal were each more than $1 million. He said school boards must take into account the expense of not only whether to try and have a teacher fired, but also whether it is worth the additional money for appeals.

The expenses take away the district's ability in some cases to hire additional teachers and other employees, he said.

"We don't have an infinite budget," Deasy said.The superintendent said there is also "human capital" to consider, referring to the need to have principals away from their schools so they can participate in proceedings involving teacher discipline. Many principals have said they would not like to go through the process again because of the toll it takes on them, Deasy testified.

He said the presence of some bad teachers in the district is not indicative of poor management at the LAUSD.

Earlier today, plaintiffs' lawyer Theodore Boutrous said in his opening statement on behalf of his nine young clients that the five laws protecting teacher tenure need are too time-consuming and expensive for schools.

"The effects can be catastrophic for students and children in California," Boutrous said.

Deputy Attorney General Nimrod Elias countered that the laws protecting teacher tenure help school districts statewide attract educators who might otherwise be dissuaded by what they may consider low pay and difficult working conditions.

He said there is no evidence of a connection between the laws and the poor academic performances by students at some poor and minority schools.

"Striking down these laws will not end that achievement gap," Elias said.Elias said the students' lawyers are using extreme examples in the Los Angeles and Oakland districts to make points that are not representative of how teacher tenure laws are working statewide.

Lawyer James Finberg, representing the teacher unions, said the laws help prevent teachers from being hired and retained for reasons involving favoritism and politics.

"When teachers are provided the support they need, they excel," Finberg said.

A Pasadena schoolteacher named in the suit as ineffective by one of the plaintiffs recently was named teacher of the year in her district, Finberg said.

But according to Boutrous, teachers can obtain tenure in as little was 16 months, far less time than required in many other states.

"It's a broken system that is not working," he said.One of the plaintiffs complained of a teacher sleeping in class, calling Latino children "cholos" and spending learning time showing YouTube videos, Boutrous said.

Minority students are the most negatively affected by teachers who do not do their jobs properly, he said.

"They fall far behind their peers academically," Boutrous said, arguing that the five laws targeted in the suit are a direct cause of the problem.

"They shackle and preclude ... districts from acting in the best interests of their students," he said.

PREVIOUSLY:

Five laws make it expensive and time-consuming to dismiss ineffective educators and should be found unconstitutional, an attorney said today as trial of a lawsuit that could drastically change tenure for public school teachers got under way in Los Angeles.

"The effects can be catastrophic for students and children in California," lawyer Theodore Boutrous said in his opening statement on behalf of nine young plaintiffs in a non-jury trial before Judge Rolf M. Treu.The plaintiffs' lawsuit, filed in May 2012 in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges the laws violate students' constitutional rights to an equal education. The lawsuit names the state and two teacher unions that later intervened as defendants, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers.

Deputy Attorney General Nimrod Elias countered that the laws protecting teacher tenure help school districts statewide attract teachers who might otherwise be dissuaded by what they may consider low pay and difficult working conditions. He said there is no evidence of a connection between the laws and the poor academic performances by students at some poor and minority schools.

"Striking down these laws will not end that achievement gap," Elias said.Elias said the students' lawyers are using extreme examples in the Los Angeles and Oakland districts to make points that are not representative of how teacher tenure laws are working statewide.

Lawyer James Finberg, representing the teacher unions, said the laws help prevent teachers from being hired and retained for reasons involving favoritism and politics.

"When teachers are provided the support they need, they excel," Finberg said.A Pasadena schoolteacher named in the suit as ineffective by one of the plaintiffs recently was named teacher of the year in her district, Finberg said.

But according to Boutrous, teachers can obtain tenure in as little was 16 months, far less time than required in many other states. "It's a broken system that is not working," he said.

One of the plaintiffs complained of a teacher sleeping in class, calling Latino children "cholos" and spending learning time showing YouTube videos, Boutrous said.

Minority students are the most negatively affected by teachers who do not do their jobs properly, he said.

"They fall far behind their peers academically," Boutrous said, arguing that the five laws targeted in the suit are a direct cause of the problem.

"They shackle and preclude ... districts from acting in the best interests of their students," he said.

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