gavel

The final decision in the suit sets the stage for the appeals process.

By MAGGIE SEVERNS | 8/28/14 9:34 PM EDT Updated: 8/29/14 9:15 AM EDT

A Los Angeles judge on Thursday affirmed a tentative June ruling that struck down five laws governing job protections for teachers in California.

The final decision in the headline-grabbing tenure suit sets the stage for the appeals process. Now the clock starts ticking for state Superintendent Tom Torlakson: As a named defendant in the case, he has to decide whether to appeal.

And to make that decision he’ll have until just before the Nov. 4 election that pits him against education reformer — and fellow Democrat — Marshall Tuck. With Tuck eager to make the case a campaign issue, the Vergara v. decision could take center stage in the big money race.

Torlakson “and other Sacramento insiders should do the right thing for California kids and drop any plans to appeal the ruling,” Tuck said in a statement. “No student should ever have to go to court to get a quality education — and no elected official should ever put bureaucratic laws ahead of students’ interest.”

Torlakson has support from teachers unions — which said Thursday they plan to appeal — and the Democratic establishment.When the initial decision was issued, he suggested he opposed it.

Attracting and retaining the right teachers requires “the right mix of tools, resources and expertise,” Torlakson said at the time. “Today’s ruling may inadvertently make this critical work even more challenging than it already is.” The California Department of Education could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday night.

After the initial decision, Tuck, a former charter school executive, launched a petition drive urging Torlakson to not appeal.

“Stop wasting taxpayer resources defending a broken system,” Tuck said in an open letter sent to Torlakson.

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