Deasy Addresses Lawsuit Challenging ‘Last Hired, First Fired’ Layoffs For Teachers

LOS ANGELES (May 15, 2012) – Superintendent John E. Deasy is reviewing a lawsuit that challenges state laws requiring teacher layoffs based on their seniority rather than the quality of instruction.

“The ‘Last In, First Out’ rule is one that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has grappled with as we lose some of the best and hardest-working employees, who serve our students and schools,” Deasy said. “In the last four years, this District has been forced by state budget cuts to lay off more than 8,000 employees.”

Students Matters, a nonprofit education advocacy group, filed the lawsuit yesterday in Los Angeles Superior Court against the state of California, Gov. Jerry Brown and two school districts: Los Angeles Unified and Alum Rock Union in San Jose. The lawsuit targets the requirement to lay off the least experienced teachers—no matter how talented they are. In addition, the lawsuit targets the lengthy and costly process required to fire an ineffective teacher, as well as the length of employment—18 months—needed to earn permanent tenure.

“To my dismay, we have lost thousands of our best and hardest-working classroom instructors through the last hired, first fired rule. When forced to reduce our teaching staff through budget cuts, we are compelled through state law and union rules to base these difficult decisions primarily on seniority,” Deasy said.

Deasy indicated he supports reform of the state’s reduction-in-force requirements, lengthening the amount of time a teacher must work before getting lifetime tenure and speeding up the termination process."On behalf of the largest school district in California, we support the Constitutional rights of all students, and we strive to provide them with a quality education by having the most effective teachers and staff," Deasy said.

Deasy believes teacher quality is paramount to student achievement. “Every student deserves an effective teacher,” he said.

Attorneys for LAUSD are expected to make a formal response to the lawsuit in coming months. "It is my sincere hope that we can be relieved from this burdensome ‘last hired, first fired’ rule so that we have the flexibility to provide students with the best and brightest instructors we can give them,” Deasy said. “Their futures depend on it.”