A Texas appellate court has upheld the discharge of a teacher for financial reasons. The case shows school districts have great discretion to determine which employees to cut and don’t have to be bogged down in a detailed examination.
Recent case: Ashley, an Austin English teacher with a year remaining on her teaching contract, sued when she was terminated early. The move followed the Austin Independent School District realization that budget cuts meant that more than 1,000 employees would have to be laid off, including 568 teachers. Each school identified how many teachers it could cut, based on staffing needs.
Ashley was one of nine English teachers at her school; she and three others lost their jobs. She asked for a hearing at which she contested the underlying economic reasons for the layoffs.
In court, she argued that the district should have to prove that her particular position needed to be eliminated, based on economic conditions.
The court disagreed. As long as the school district could show it had to reduce costs, it was within its discretion to determine which employees should go. (Robison v. Williams, et al., No. 03-13-00244, Texas Court of Appeals, 2015)
Final note: No doubt practicality played a part in the interpretation of “financial reasons” for cutting staff. Having to justify each individual cut based on financial exigency would be virtually impossible and very cumbersome.
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