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Jonathan Raymond, Former Sacramento City Superintendent, Provides Stirring Testimony About Statutes’ Harm on Students and Teachers

Superintendent Raymond: “…A system that treats its best teachers this way and a system that ultimately doesn’t serve children and its families like they’re supposed to, in my humble opinion, is broken.”

Troy Christmas, Director of Labor Strategy, Completes Testimony About the Costs of the Dismissal Process on School Districts

The education equality trial, Vergara v. California, began its second week of testimony with Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) Director of Labor Strategy Troy Christmas completing his testimony and Plaintiffs calling Jonathan Raymond, former Superintendent of Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD), to the stand. Superintendent Raymond provided emotional testimony about the harms caused by the laws governing teacher tenure, dismissal and seniority.

Vergara v. California challenges five statutes in the California Education Code that force school districts to knowingly place grossly ineffective teachers in front of children every year. Both Mr. Christmas and Superintendent Raymond’s testimonies highlight how these statutes violate students’ fundamental right to equal educational opportunity.

Testimony by Troy Christmas

Mr. Christmas, who oversees labor contracts, grievances, and arbitrations for the OUSD, kicked off today’s testimony by talking about the impact of the “Last-in, First-out” Statute (also known as the LIFO Statute), which forces school districts to lay off passionate, motivating teachers and keep ineffective teachers in the classroom just because they have more seniority.

  • During cross-examination, Christmas testified that OUSD’s “ability to ensure that [it] ha[s] excellent teaching going on in every classroom is being impacted by the existence of these statutes…” Furthermore, Mr. Christmas suggested that the LIFO Statute causes “teachers [to] leav[e] [the] Oakland Unified School District, because they can work in a charter school and not be subject to being laid off based on these statutes…”
  • During redirect examination, Plaintiffs’ lead co-counsel, Marcellus A. McRae, asked Mr. Christmas about the practice of paying ineffective teachers not to teach. Mr. Christmas responded “It is the lesser of evils to pay money to not have someone who is ineffective working with students …, [rather] than to having them work with those students.”

Testimony by Superintendent Jonathan Raymond

Following Mr. Christmas’ testimony, Plaintiffs called Jonathan Raymond, the former SCUSD Superintendent, to the stand.

During his testimony, Superintendent Raymond—like Superintendent Deasy before him—confirmed that SCUSD employed both ineffective and grossly ineffective teachers during his time with the district. He further indicated that a teacher’s seniority is not correlated with effectiveness, noting: “You have some teachers who are less senior who are highly effective and you have more senior teachers who are ineffective. There’s no correlation.”