'Constitutional Crisis' Declared as Los Angeles Unified Lawyers Defend Teacher Evaluation System

By Himes, Thomas | Daily News (Los Angeles, CA), February 18, 2015 | Go to article overview

'Constitutional Crisis' Declared as Los Angeles Unified Lawyers Defend Teacher Evaluation System


Himes, Thomas, Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)


Los Angeles Unified lawyers argued this week that a "constitutional crisis" should allow them to keep a controversial new teacher evaluation system without the consent of its 35,000- member teachers union.

Citing the Vergara v. California case, in which a Los Angeles Superior Court judge last year ruled teacher tenure laws deprived students of their constitutional right to an education by keeping incompetent teachers in classrooms, LAUSD lawyers wrote the controversial evaluation system is needed to alleviate a crisis that deprives students of their constitutional right to an education in documents that LAUSD filed with the California Public Employment Relations Board on Tuesday.

The documents were filed to convince the California Public Employment Relations Board that it should discard an administrative law judge's tentative ruling in December that would require LAUSD to repeal its new four-level system for observing teachers - a key aspect of an evaluation system the district imposed in March 2013. The decision came in response to an unfair labor practices charge the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, filed June 18, 2013.

In this week's filing, LAUSD lawyers compare the need for the new evaluation system to a 2008 case that allowed the unilateral implementation of an evaluation system for doctors inside prisons. That system was imposed after unqualified doctors provided treatments that led to patient deaths.

"In particular, we are asserting that the District should retain its authority to create the criteria and standards for the performance of its employees under the law," LAUSD General Counsel David Holmquist stated.

But in the December ruling, judge Eric Cu found the extraordinary problems in prison healthcare were not present in LAUSD. For instance, there's no evidence teachers were assigned to the wrong subjects in the same way doctors were treating patients outside their areas of expertise.

Even if teachers were unqualified for subjects they were instructing, Cu writes, LAUSD's new four-level observation would fail to directly address the issue. …

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