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California Students Get Their Day in Court: LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy Opens Testimony in Vergara v. California

Today marked the beginning of the highly anticipated education equality lawsuit, Vergara v. California. Theodore J. Boutrous Jr. delivered the opening statement on behalf of the Plaintiffs, nine public school students from across California. Boutrous said during his opening statement:

Plaintiffs will prove that the statutes at issue in this case compel school districts to reelect and retain grossly ineffective teachers. This system is harming students every day. When students are denied this lifeline – when they are told that they are incapable of success or when they are denied the basic building blocks of an education – the effect is catastrophic.

Theodore J. Boutrous Jr.

Follow along with Mr. Boutrous’ opening statement presentation.

Following opening statements, Plaintiffs called Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Superintendent John Deasy. Responding to questions by Plaintiff attorney Marcellus McRae, Dr. Deasy addressed the impact of the Permanent Employment Statute on LAUSD in detail. When asked whether current state law allows administrators enough time before they must offer permanent employment to educators, Superintendent Deasy responded:

Not remotely. There is no way that, in my opinion, this is a sufficient amount of time to make such an important decision

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy

Deasy also refuted the defenses’ claim that tenure is necessary to attract and retain individuals to the teaching profession.“Job stability and tenure do not appear to be linked,” said Superintendent Deasy.

Discussing the expensive, costly and time-consuming process to terminate ineffective teachers under the Dismissal Statutes, Deasy noted that the termination process can take years, stating, “Some go many years, some go a year… Some cases have taken slightly less than 10 years.”

When asked if LAUSD still has grossly ineffective teachers in the classroom, Superintendent Deasy confirmed, saying: “Yes sir.”  Superintendent Deasy then provided a range for the cost for LAUSD to dismiss a tenured teacher, noting that the approximate average cost is “somewhere between $250,000 and $450,000.”

Districts have finite budgets. The expense of an appeals process is one of the decisions in front of the board of education. Boards have to approve the extension of funds during the appeals process. Some cases have been in the millions. When you have little or no money that means, you’re going backward. Millions means you could hire a teacher, or an aide or a principal and instead you’re appealing this process. So that has a weight and an effect on that taking place

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy

During the midday recess, Students Matter held a press conference outside the courthouse, where all nine plaintiffs and their parents stood alongside their attorneys to talk about the significance of the case and the importance of providing every child with access to quality teachers.

View the entire press conference here.

One thing I can tell you for sure is that teachers matter. It’s crazy that anyone thinks teachers don’t matter. When I’ve had great teachers, I’ve felt like my dreams were possible. Having teachers, who believed in me and cared about whether I learned and grew as a student or not, made all the difference in the world. But when I had teachers who seemed like they didn’t even want to be there and couldn’t teach, I had to find a way out.

High School Junior Raylene Monterroza

This lawsuit brings awareness to an issue that affects thousands of children and their families each year – and that leaves long-lasting impacts in all of our lives. I know that winning this lawsuit won’t solve everything that must be fixed in our education system, but I know that it’s a starting point. And, that’s what we’re doing here today. We are breaking ground. Because I have another daughter just starting out in school, and every precious year of her education matters too.

Evelyn Macias, mother of Plaintiff Julia Macias

Since Vergara v. California was filed almost two years ago, defendants have made arguments outside the courtroom that fail to address the merits of the case and seek to distract from the lawsuit’s premise of protecting and ensuring a quality education for all California students. Read a brief overview of defendants’ misleading arguments, and a direct response from Students Matter.

Follow @Students_Matter on Twitter for live updates from inside the courtroom.

View the Students Matter press page to read coverage of the first day of trial, including articles from Reuters, Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, TIME, La Opinión, The Washington Post, San Jose Mercury News, FOX News, NBC Los Angeles, CBS Los Angeles, and ABC Los Angeles.