The Stanley Mosk courthouse in downtown Los Angeles.
On the second day of a trial with possible far reaching impact on the job protections for hundreds of thousands of California teachers, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy testified that the district’s been successful at firing incompetent teachers.
At issue in the trial is whether five state laws that offer job protections to teachers - such as seniority based layoffs and permanent job status after 18 months – unconstitutionally deprive public school students of an adequate education because they shelter bad teachers.
“Is it your opinion that the two-year probationary period is in the best interest of school children,” plaintiff lawyer Marcellus McRae asked Deasy in his last question of two days of direct examination Tuesday.
“No, it’s not,” Deasy said. During earlier testimony, he agreed with plaintiff's lawyers that the state- mandated process to fire tenured teachers makes it hard to get rid of grossly ineffective teachers.
But when teachers' union-financed lawyer Jim Finberg began his cross examination, Deasy said 122 teachers already in the process of being fired resigned in the 2011-2012 school year after he revamped procedures.
“You have in fact greatly reduced the number of grossly ineffective teachers who have received permanent status since you became superintendent,” Finberg asked. The district has about 30,000 teachers.
“I believe we have done a good job at accomplishing that,” Deasy replied.
Deasy is a key witness in the case filed on behalf of nine California public school students and financed by the Silicon Valley education advocacy group Students Matter. The group is funded by entrepreneur David Welch, who’s a charter school supporter.
There are more than one hundred people on the possible witness lists, including education scholars, current and former L.A. Unified school board members, and school officials from other California school districts.
The state and union officials maintain that, rather than hurting kids, teacher protections keep a stable work force and attract good teachers.