In a surprise ruling on Tuesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu declared several California teacher laws unconstitutional. Assemblyman Curt Hagman (R-Chino Hills) was one of the first California legislators to praise the landmark decision.
“This ruling is a victory for all California families. A quality education is essential for all children, no matter their background. Quality teachers are vital to maximize the potential in every child,” stated Assemblyman Hagman. “I know I join with countless California parents in celebrating this momentous ruling. Students should not suffer because of a school’s inability to dismiss ineffective teachers,” Hagman continued.
Students Matter, a “national non-profit organization dedicated to sponsoring impact litigation to promote access to quality public education,” sponsored Vagara v. State of California. The group challenged current tenure laws, which allow teachers to become tenured in two years. The de facto result is that bad teachers remain employed but transferred to lower-income schools.
In his 16-page ruling, Judge Treu wrote, “This Court finds that both students and teachers are unfairly, unnecessarily, and for no legally cognizable reason (let alone a compelling one), disadvantaged by the current Permanent Employment Statute.” Judge Treu went on to say that defense experts agreed that three to five years “would be a better time frame to make the tenure decision for the mutual benefit of students and teachers.”
Evidence presented to the court showed that under the current system it can take anywhere from two to ten years to dismiss a tenured teacher. The cost can range from $50,000 to $450,000. School administrators often do not want to go through the time and expense to prosecute the cases so incompetent teachers are instead left in the classroom.
According to the press release from Hagman’s office, “An important priority for Assembly Republicans during this legislative session has been empowering parents, especially those whose children are attending low-performing schools, as well as reforming the state’s teacher tenure laws. This ruling marks an important step forward in pursuit of these goals, as Assemblyman Hagman and his Republican colleagues continue to fight for quality education for all California children.”
The judge stayed his ruling pending appellate review. Likely, it will take months or longer before there is a decision from the Court of Appeal.
Hagman is completing his second two-year term in the California State Assembly. He finished in the top two in the California June Primary for a seat on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors. The General Election is in November.