L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy took the stand on Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court as the first witness in a high-profile trial to decide whether five teacher protections in state law should be scrapped because they protect ineffective teachers.
Deasy told judge Rolf Treu that it takes his district between one and two years to dismiss an ineffective teacher. “Some go many years, some go a year.”
He said the firing process costs between $250,000 and $450,000.
The lawsuit that led to the trial, Vergara versus State of California, was filed on behalf of nine public school students who say their constitutional right to an adequate education was violated because teacher job protections such as permanent status after 18 months, seniority based layoffs, and a complicated dismissal process protect bad teachers.
Plaintiff lawyer Marcellus McRae said Deasy did a good job of making their case.
“His comment that the tenure period, the probationary period of less than 18 months in an insufficient amount of time to make a determination of whether a teacher should be given tenure and that is what causes some grossly ineffective teachers to get tenure,” McRae said.
Lawyers representing California and its teachers' unions say schools do fine identifying and firing bad teachers. They say Sacramento policymakers – not courts – should determine teacher job rules.
Lawyer Jim Finberg is helping defend state officials against the lawsuit.
“These statutes, the tenure statute, dismissal statute, and reduction in force statute all serve important state interests, most fundamentally they help school districts retain and recruit good, well qualified teachers.”
Finberg highlights that even LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy – a key witness for the students suing the state - testified that his district is finding a way to fire ineffective teachers even with teacher job safeguards.
The trial is expected to go for a month.