Vergara v. California

Source: Students Matter

With the help of Students Matter, nine California public school children filed the statewide lawsuit Vergara v. California against the State of California in May 2012 to strike down the laws handcuffing schools from doing what’s best for kids when it comes to teachers. Meet the Plaintiffs.

The court’s historic decision in Vergara v. California reaffirmed the fundamental, Constitutional right of every student to learn from effective teachers and have an equal opportunity to succeed in school. Visit the Students Matter Victory page for the best quotes from Judge Treu’s ruling, an FAQ on what happens next, and key facts and statistics from the compelling evidence presented at trial.

We think it’s simple: reward and retain excellent teachers and hold those accountable who are failing our children. By striking down the following laws, Vergara v. California will create an opportunity for lawmakers, teachers, administrators and community leaders to design a system that’s good for both teachers and students. Because Californians shouldn’t have to choose: We can create an education system that gives every child a passionate, motivating and effective teacher and gives effective teachers the respect and rewarding careers they deserve.

  • Permanent Employment Statute: The permanent employment law forces administrators to either grant or deny permanent employment to teachers after an evaluation period of less than 16 months—before new teachers even complete their beginner teacher induction programs and before administrators are able to assess whether a teacher will be effective long-term.
  • Dismissal Statutes: The process for dismissing a single ineffective teacher involves a borderline infinite number of steps, requires years of documentation, costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and still, rarely ever works. Out of 275,000 teachers statewide, 2.2 teachers are dismissed for unsatisfactory performance per year on average, which amounts to 0.0008 percent.
  • “Last-In, First-Out” (“LIFO”) Layoff Statute: The “LIFO” law forces school districts to base layoffs on seniority alone, with no consideration of teachers’ performance in the classroom.

In May 2013, the state’s two largest teachers unions, the California Teachers Association (CTA) and the California Federation of Teachers (CFT), intervened in the case to defend these statutes alongside the State. The two-month trial for Vergara v. California began on January 27, 2014 and concluded on March 27, 2014.

The State, the CTA and the CFT have appealed the trial court’s historic decision in Vergara. Read Plaintiffs’ brief in response.