The California Court of Appeal, Second District has scheduled for Feb. 25 oral arguments in the landmark Vergara v. California lawsuit. The appeal decision will be closely watched throughout the state and beyond, as the future of California’s teacher employment laws surrounding tenure, seniority and dismissal hang in the balance.
In 2014, Judge Rolf Treu struck down the current laws after ruling in favor of a group of California students who had sued the state and its two largest teacher unions, the California Teachers Association (CTA) and the California Federation of Teachers (CFT). The students successfully argued that the laws deprived them of a quality education by keeping bad teachers in the classrooms.
Treu’s ruling was stayed, pending the appeal, and should it stand, would require state lawmakers to draft new teacher employment laws.
“At its core, this case is about ensuring that every child, regardless of income, color or zip code, has equal access to the quality education they deserve. The trial court correctly found that striking down these laws as unconstitutional was necessary to vindicate the right to a quality education promised to all of California’s school children,” said Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr., lead co-counsel for plaintiffs, in a statement. “We look forward to oral argument in February.”
Union leaders in the state have painted the case an attempt by powerful interests to crush teacher unions. The plaintiffs in the case have been financially supported by the organization Students Matter.
“We should be clear that the deep-pocketed financial backers of Vergara have an anti-union track record and that this lawsuit is part of that long-term agenda,” CFT President Joshua Pechthalt said previously in a statement. “To suggest that education reform should be driven by how teachers get fired misses the reality of what’s really happening across the country.”