Democrat Amendments to Unconstitutional Teacher Tenure Bill Fall Short

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

(Sacramento)  Despite 11th hour amendments, Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff voted against AB 1619 (Gonzalez D-San Diego) today when the bill was heard in the Senate Education committee.  Huff opposes the bill because it expands California’s public school teacher tenure and dismissal system.  Last week, in the Vergara vs. California case, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled California’s system for hiring, retaining and dismissing teachers unconstitutionally deprives students, especially lower-income students of color, access to an equal education.

AB 1619 requires 190 small school districts and 16 county offices of education to grant permanent status (commonly referred to as “tenure”) to their teachers.  The bill also extends tenure to employees in non-teaching positions, as well as taking away district flexibility and making it harder to remove poor performing probationary employees. 

The judge in the Vergara case ruled that California’s laws on public school teacher tenure, dismissal and layoffs are unconstitutional because they violate students’ fundamental rights to an equal education.   

The author of the bill offered an 11th hour amendment that would change AB 1619’s requirement that districts offer tenure after two consecutive years of employment to three years, in light of the Vergara decision.  Huff stated that amendment would not change his opposition to the bill.

“While I applaud the author recognizing that the impact of her bill runs counter to the Vergara decision, whether it takes two years or three years to qualify for tenure, I cannot support a bill that imposes a teacher tenure and dismissal system on districts where no such requirement currently exists, said Huff. “The last thing we should be doing as a Legislature is expanding an unconstitutional teacher tenure system.”