Pleasanton Weekly

News - June 20, 2014

Pleasanton reacts to teacher tenure ruling

Parents view ruling as a step in right direction

by Amanda Aguilar

The Pleasanton community is beginning to offer its reactions to last week's court ruling that found California's teacher tenure, dismissal and seniority laws unconstitutional for violating rights to equal treatment and a free public education.

"I think the decision is great because a revamping of the teacher tenure laws, which prioritize seniority over competence, is long overdue," said Pleasanton parent Nancy Davis.

"If proven bad teachers are protected by tenure, then that system is flawed and not beneficial to all," said a Pleasanton teacher who asked to remain anonymous.

The president and vice president of the Association of Pleasanton Teachers did not respond to requests for comment on the ruling, issued by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu on June 10.

Nine students filed a lawsuit in 2012 stating the laws "impose a real and appreciable impact on students' fundamental right to equality of education and that they impose a disproportionate burden on poor and minority students," Treu wrote.

"Every single student, regardless of his/her unique circumstances including where he/she attends school, is entitled to the absolute best learning opportunities," said Pleasanton schools superintendent Parvin Ahmadi.

Treu issued an injunction barring enforcement of the laws, but suspended it to give the state and two teachers' unions, Burlingame-based California Teacher's Association and Burbank-based California Federation of Teachers, a chance to appeal.

The unions argued during the trial that eliminating teachers' rights make it harder for public schools to attract and retain good teachers.

"The teachers union is too powerful and it has hurt the quality of teaching in California," said Pleasanton parent Peter Balas. "Fortunately our district attracts higher quality teachers, but we are not immune to poor performers.

The appeal process could take up to a year or longer. If the ruling is upheld, teacher tenure laws would be revamped.

"Supporting students takes everyone, parents, staff and the community, working together," Ahmadi said.

*Editor's note: Information from the Bay City News Service was used in this report.

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