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Defense Witness Concedes That More Seniority-Based Teachers Layoffs Have Been Noticed For Next Year

Defense witness on why she believes seniority-based layoffs are needed: “I’d be afraid to give my super secret teaching techniques to colleagues who might become better than me.”

State Defendants and Intervenors called four witnesses, Ms. Linda Tolladay, Ms. Jeannie Oropeza, Ms. Roxann Louise Purdue, and Mr. Joshua Michael Jawitz-McClellan, to the stand today in the education equality trial, Vergara v. California.

Defendants and Intervenors’ first witness of the day, Ms. Tolladay, is an eighth grade teacher who testified that dismissal protections are necessary to protect teachers from being fired based on their sexual orientation. Ms. Tolladay also testified that replacing seniority-based layoffs with a system that takes into account a teacher’s effectiveness would “destroy utterly collegiality critical to teaching children. I’d be afraid to give my super secret teaching techniques to colleagues who might become better than me.”

linda tolladay

During cross-examination, Plaintiffs asked Ms. Tolladay if she was aware that it is already illegal to fire an employee based on sexual orientation based on California state law, to which she responded, “I don’t know.”

Defendants and Intervenors’ second witness of the day, Ms. Oropeza, is the Deputy Superintendent of the Services for Administration, Finance, Technology & Infrastructure Branch at the California Department of Education.  Ms. Oropeza testified about the system of funding in California in an apparent effort to show that teacher layoffs are unlikely to occur soon in California, but the Court ruled that the bulk of Ms. Oropeza’s testimony was irrelevant.  Moreover, on cross-examination, Plaintiffs asked Ms. Oropeza whether she was aware that preliminary teacher layoff notices have already been issued for the upcoming school year. Ms. Oropeza conceded that she was aware of those notices.

Defendants and Intervenors’ third witness, Ms. Purdue, is an employee of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Ms. Purdue testified about teacher misassignments in California, but admitted on cross-examination that the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing does not actually know how many teachers in California are misassigned.

Defendants and Intervenors’ fourth witness of the day, Mr. Jawitz-McClellan, is a math teacher. The parties reached a stipulation that obviated the vast majority of Mr. Jawitz-McClellan’s testimony. Plaintiffs did not cross-examine Mr. Jawitz-McClellan.

Court resumes tomorrow morning at 10:00am.

Background

In 1980, California created the Department of Fair Employment and Housing to protect all citizens against harassment and employment discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived age, ancestry, color, creed, disability, genetic information, gender, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, medical condition, national origin, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (Government Code sections 12900 through 12996) and its implementing regulations (California Code of Regulations, title 2, sections 7285.0 through 8504):

  • Prohibit harassment of employees, applicants, and independent contractors by any persons and require employers to take all reasonable steps to prevent harassment. This includes a prohibition against sexual harassment, gender harassment, harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and/or related medical conditions, as well as harassment based on all other characteristics listed above.
  • Prohibit discrimination against any job applicant or employee in hiring, promotions, assignments, termination, or any term, condition, or privilege of employment.