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In a stunning defeat for California’s public school teachers unions, a state superior court today ruled in favor of students challenging teacher protection laws in Vergara v California.
It was a total triumph for the nine student plaintiffs, giving them a victory on all counts in an equal protection case aimed at striking down five laws that govern tenure, seniority and dismissal that the students argued kept ineffective teachers in their classrooms.
In his decision, Judge Rolf Treu said, “evidence has been elicited in this trial of the specific effect of grossly ineffective teachers on students. The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscious.”
He concluded that “all Challenged Statutes are found unconstitutional.”
The decision is temporary; final judgement may take as long as 30 days, depending upon any changes or modifications to the ruling. Meanwhile, Judge Treu stayed any changes in the laws, pending appeals.
“This is a monumental day for California’s public education system,” said Ted Boutrous, the lead attorney for the students. “By striking down these irrational laws, the court has recognized that all students deserve a quality education. Today’s ruling is a victory not only for our nine plaintiffs; it is a victory for students, parents, and teachers across California.”
Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy, who was the first witness to testify on behalf of the students in the eight-week trial, said: “This is a truly historic day for our education system. Today’s decision is a call to action to begin implementing, without delay, the solutions that help address the problems highlighted by the Vergara trial. Every day that these laws remain in effect is an opportunity denied. It’s unacceptable, and a violation of our education system’s sacred pact with the public.”
The plaintiffs in the case were nine California school children who claimed that they were deprived of a quality of education by the application of the laws. The state was the chief defendant, joined by its two biggest teacher unions — the California Teachers Association (CTA) and the California Federation of Teachers (CFT).
The state and the unions intend to appeal the decision, which requires filing within 60 days of the finalizing of Judge Treu’s decision.
Josh Pechthalt, the CFT president, said, “We know that this is not the last word on the case. We know what’s in the record of evidence, and we have a high degree of confidence that we will prevail on appeal.”