The California 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected an earlier decision that permitted some schools to ignore seniority when deciding which teachers to lay off. The court ruled in favor of the teachers’ union, which had appealed the decision on multiple grounds, including the claim that it didn’t get the chance to present its case against the settlement.
In California, school districts are required to make layoff decisions based upon how much seniority a teacher has. Attorneys representing some of the district’s students had argued that children from schools with the poorest student performance, whose teachers often have less seniority, would be hurt the most by losing their teachers. The American Civil Liberties Union, as well as Morrison & Foerster, along with Public Counsel, equated the loss of teachers due to layoffs to unlawfully denying the students the right to an education.
That case, Reed vs. L.A. Unified, resulted in a settlement that permitted the Los Angeles Unified School District to lay off teachers with greater seniority from higher-performing schools in order to protect the teachers of students from poorer-performing schools.
The teachers’ union, United Teachers Los Angeles, responded with an appeal, arguing that the judge in Reed vs. L.A. Unified never made a ruling on whether the students’ claim was valid. In addition, the union argued that the earlier decision was damaging to the seniority rights of teachers and that the union was not allowed to adequately present its case prior to the original ruling.
The appellate court agreed with the union, prompting the attorneys representing the students to make an appeal to the California Supreme Court. In the meantime, the terms of the original ruling will stand.
District superintendent John Deasy stated that the district’s fight to protect the rights of its students will continue. “In the meantime, nothing has changed,” he said, noting that the teachers of vulnerable students will remain protected until the state supreme court makes its decision.