A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled that job protections for teachers in California are unconstitutional.

Howard Blume, Stephen Ceasar
June 11, 2104

The ruling Tuesday by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge that struck down job protections for teachers in California as unconstitutional will undoubtedly spawn a series of appeals that could last years before a final outcome is reached.

But some contend that is too long of a wait and an effort to change the laws should head to the legislature as soon as possible.

“We should not and cannot afford to wait for the appellate courts to address these critical issues,” said Josephine Lucey, the president of the California School Boards Assn., adding that the education community should “immediately begin working with the governor and the California Legislature to resolve these important issues of inequality in education.”

If the preliminary ruling becomes final and is upheld, the effect will be sweeping across California and possibly the nation. And any effort to change the laws – or restore them – must now survive court scrutiny.

In his ruling Tuesday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu said the laws governing job security were unconstitutional because they harmed predominantly low-income, minority students by allowing incompetent instructors to remain in the classroom.

The protections “impose a real and appreciable impact on students’ fundamental right to equality of education,” he wrote. “The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience.”

The 16-page decision ends the process of laying off teachers based solely on when they were hired. It also strips them of extra job safeguards not enjoyed by other school or state employees. And it eliminates the current tenure process, under which instructors are either fired or win strong job security about 18 months after they start teaching.

Treu wrote that among other things, the tenure and seniority laws hurt teachers, saddling them with poor-performing colleagues and the system with expensive dismissal cases, which drain classroom resources.

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