In what could become a landmark decision that permanently alters education in California, a Southern California judge has ruled that Los Angeles public schools can ignore seniority when laying off teachers, because the needs of low-income and minority students are paramount. The case was brought by the ACLU who argued that seniority rules force districts to lay off newer instructors who typically work at schools in low-income areas, resulting in a revolving door of teachers at those schools. Low-income and minority children, as a result, are deprived equal access to a quality education.
If the judge’s ruling holds up over time and is expanded statewide, it could eliminate teacher seniority rights in layoffs, providing school districts with a way to get rid of burned out teachers that they’re now forced to keep. It also could have significant effects on school districts such as Oakland, where the revolving-door of teachers in the city’s flatland schools has been a decades-old problem, depriving tens of thousands of kids access to quality instructors.