Decision effectively maintains status quo for teacher tenure, dismissal and layoffs
This afternoon, three judges on the California Second District Court of Appeal unanimously reversed a trial court ruling in the equal protection case of Vergara v. California.
In 2014, Vergara plaintiffs challenged a variety of state laws related to teacher protection, arguing that they caused an identifiable group of students, poor and minority students, to receive an education inferior to that of their peers. In response, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu ruled for the plaintiffs and struck down five state statutes affecting teacher tenure and the processes for teacher dismissal and layoffs based on seniority.
Today's ruling in favor of the defendants effectively overturns the lower court decision and maintains the status quo regarding teacher protections. The plaintiffs in the case, Students Matter, have indicated they will appeal today’s decision to the California Supreme Court.
In its decision, the appeals court conceded that low-income and minority students are disproportionately likely to receive sub-standard instruction and that they are harmed by this experience. Yet, the court also said that the plaintiffs failed to establish a sufficiently causal relationship between this condition and the teacher protection statutes they challenged. Significantly, the court noted that the higher concentration of underperforming teachers in predominantly low-income and minority schools could result from poor implementation of the statutes as opposed to the terms of the statutes themselves.
CSBA will continue to provide updates on developments in Vergara v. California. For more background, read ELA's amicus brief on the case.