Doe v. Antioch: The Court Got It Wrong

On Monday, the California Superior Court of Contra Costa County issued a flawed decision in Doe v. Antioch in favor of the school district defendants and against the petitioners — a group of California teachers, parents and concerned citizens seeking to compel 13 school districts to comply with the state’s longstanding teacher evaluation law, the Stull Act. The Stull Act requires school districts to evaluate public school teachers in a fair and meaningful way, using multiple measures, including student progress toward state and local standards.

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Each year, a significant number of school districts across California — including the 13 districts named in Doe v. Antioch — fail to evaluate teachers in a meaningful way by entering into collective bargaining agreements that explicitly prohibit consideration of student learning, under pressure from local teachers union leadership.

“The goal of teaching is for students to learn. In order to evaluate whether a teacher is effective, school districts must evaluate whether that teacher’s students are learning,” said Marcellus McRae and Joshua S. Lipshutz of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, lead co-counsel in the Doe v. Antioch case, in a joint statement reacting to Monday’s decision. “As the Legislature recognized in passing the Stull Act, a teacher evaluation that ignores student learning is a farce that serves neither students nor teachers. Today’s decision ignores this basic and indisputable logic and renders the Stull Act meaningless.”

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Students Matter Founder Dave Welch also criticized the decision and urged Governor Brown to sign legislation that would strengthen the state’s teacher evaluation laws, saying, “If the Court will not enforce the Legislature’s clear and unambiguous intent in the Stull Act, then their refusal underscores the need for Governor Brown to sign AB 2826, clarifying the measures of student progress that must be used in the evaluation of educators.”