Students Win as California Supreme Court Rejects Vergara Appeal
SAN FRANCISCO – In a victory for students and educators, the Supreme Court of California today announced it will not review the Vergara v. California lawsuit, letting the unanimous appellate court decision upholding five statutes governing professional and employment rights for educators stand as constitutional. This decision vindicates the arguments of educators, civil rights groups, legal scholars and education policy experts that the state statutes affirming educator rights do not harm students.
“This is a good day for students and educators as the Supreme Court’s decision brings an end to the case brought by wealthy anti-public education millionaires who spent millions of dollars to bypass voters, parents, and the legislature in an attempt to impose their harmful education agenda on local schools,” said California Teachers Association President Eric C. Heins. “It’s time to get back to the real issues facing our public schools and work together to improve student learning and support the art of teaching. Eliminating teachers’ ability to stand up for their students and robbing school districts of the tools they need to make sound employment decisions was a well-funded but wrong-headed scheme developed by people with no education expertise.”
“We applaud the state Supreme Court’s affirmation of the appeal court decision,” said Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers. “The teacher shortage facing California has been stoked by the Vergara case, the expensive publicity machine surrounding it, and the constant attacks by so-called reformers on teachers and public education. We can now turn closer attention to solving the actual problems we confront in our schools, such as securing adequate funding through Prop. 55, reducing class sizes, promoting and strengthening peer assistance and review, and reinforcing collaborative district practices with a proven record of success. These efforts will result in a more positive climate to address the teacher shortage crisis, bring young people to teaching and encourage experienced teachers to stay in the classroom.”
The Vergara case was the brainchild of Silicon Valley multi-millionaire David Welch and a group of corporate attorneys and public relations experts who founded the organization Students Matter to file the lawsuit. At issue in the case were five California statutes covering due process rights for teachers, probationary periods, and the value of educator experience when school districts are forced to lay off personnel due to revenue shortfalls and underfunding.
Over the course of a nearly two-month trial, award-winning teachers, superintendents, principals, school board members, education researchers, and policy experts testified to the benefit of these laws and how they work effectively to ensure quality instructors in well-run school districts. No connection was ever made between the challenged laws and any student being harmed. The Court of Appeal decision repeatedly affirmed that the current laws do not prevent districts from making personnel decisions.
More information on the case as well as background can be found here and here.