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Court rules teacher tenure protections aren’t subject to judicial review

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in Firing,Human Resources

A Minnesota appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit that challenged a state law providing teachers with tenure protection. A group of parents had claimed that the law violated their children’s rights to an education because tenure made it difficult to get rid of ineffective teachers.

Recent case: In Minnesota, public school teachers who successfully complete a three-year probationary period have procedural protections before their school districts can terminate their employment.

Before termination, the school board must provide the teacher with a notice that sets out the reasons for discharge. Those reasons can include ineffective teaching. Teachers then have the right to a hearing before the school board or an arbitrator, where they can present evidence and argue that they are not ineffective teachers. If the board decides to terminate anyway, the teacher must receive a written decision explaining the grounds for that decision.

This process, according to the parents who sued, meant that their children had to endure ineffective teachers and thus didn’t get the quality education guaranteed by Minnesota law.

The court concluded their lawsuit was a political issue and not subject to judicial review. Teachers in Minnesota will continue to enjoy tenure protection. (Forslund, et al. v. Minnesota, et al., Court of Appeals of Minnesota, 2017)

Final note: Expect more lawsuits by various groups challenging long-standing employment laws. While the parents weren’t successful this time, other groups may try a different tactic.

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