Court Upholds Dismissal Of Lawsuit That Targeted Teacher Tenure

Ted Goodman | Reporter

The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit targeting teacher tenure.

Plaintiffs Tiffini Forslund and three other Minneapolis-area parents filed a lawsuit in 2016 claiming the state tenure system protected bad teachers at the expense of student achievement. The plaintiffs appealed a district court’s dismissal of the suit in Oct. 2016 on grounds that the parents failed to establish how teacher tenure was linked to student achievement.

A three judge panel sided with the lower court’s dismissal Tuesday, without setting a standard of law. The panel concluded that the issues of tenure was one for the state legislature, not the courts.

Forslund and the three other parents from St. Paul, Duluth, Anoka-Hennepin and West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan School Districts argued that the Minnesota state teacher tenure system, based primarily on seniority, is unconstitutional and creates ineffective schools for low income students and students of color.

The lawsuit claimed that state officials, all the way up to Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party Gov. Mark Dayton violated children’s Constitutionally-protected right to a “thorough and efficient” education by perpetuating a system that allows for “chronically ineffective” teachers. (RELATED: Parents Continue Legal Fight To Blame Unions For Bad Teachers)

“Our state’s rigorous laws protect due process for teachers,” Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said in a statement, according to Minnesota Public Radio (MPR). “When followed, these laws provide school administrators and school boards with the authority to remove teachers.”

Attorneys for the plaintiffs called the decision “disappointing” and hinted that Forslund and the others may take the case to the Minnesota Supreme Court, according to MPR.

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