Scores of laid-off Sacramento teachers who sued last year complaining that their school district ignored seniority-based job protections won a partial victory today in Sacramento Superior Court.
Judge Allen Sumner, in a case closely watched by educators and advocacy groups across the state, concluded in a 26-page decision that the Sacramento City Unified School District erred in categorically exempting all teachers at "high-need" schools from seniority-based layoffs.
But in a decision that gave something to both sides in the case, the court also said the district was permitted to make "high-need" exceptions to seniority-based layoffs on a case-by-case basis.
The lawsuit filed last year against the Sacramento City Unified School District was the second in two years challenging the district's decision to protect a handful of high-need campuses - labeled "Priority Schools" - from the effects of teacher turnover by skipping less senior teachers during layoffs.
Jeffrey B. Demain of Altshuler Berzon LLP, one of the San Francisco-based attorneys handling the case for the teachers, said the plaintiffs "agree with the court that the district failed to prove that exceptions to seniority based layoffs were permissible" in a 2012 administrative hearing sought by teachers who had contested their layoffs.
The judge's decision noted that the district had decided to layoff almost 400 certified employees, including almost 300 K-12 teachers, for the 2012-13 school year due to the district's massive deficit.