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ELA Files Amicus Brief on Attorneys Fees

PUBLISHED: October 2015

Last week, CSBA's Education Legal Alliance filed an amicus brief in support of Sacramento City USD. The district sought to terminate a teacher, who then requested a hearing before a Commission on Professional Competence (CPC) as permitted by state law. The teacher prevailed, which required the district to reimburse the teacher for his defense costs, including any “reasonable attorney’s fees incurred.” The question before the Superior Court was which reimbursement rate: the market rate or the actual rate charged to the teacher? The court held that the word “incurred” supported the latter interpretation.  On appeal, the ELA’s brief argued that the trial court properly interpreted the statute’s language and went on to demonstrate that the statute was intended to reimburse the teacher or “make him whole.” Thus, reimbursement at the market rate instead of the actual legal fees charged went beyond the intent of the statute and would improperly take money away from the classroom.