The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit that claimed the state’s teacher tenure laws protect ineffective teachers and deprive students of an adequate education.
Tuesday’s ruling came less than a year after Ramsey County District Judge Margaret Marrinan threw out the case on grounds it failed to establish a link between low academic achievement and the due process afforded veteran teachers under tenure laws.
The three-judge panel did not dig as deep into the issues, however, concluding instead that questions about what constitutes effective teaching and an adequate education were up to the Legislature and not the judiciary to decide.
National and local education reform groups filed the lawsuit in April 2016 on behalf of a group of parents from Minneapolis, St. Paul, Eagan and Duluth. The education groups, including Partnership for Educational Justice and Students for Education Reform-Minnesota (SFER-MN), allege that protections available to teachers who have been targeted for dismissal create hurdles that make it “all but impossible” to dismiss ineffective teachers.
The result, they claim, is a “shuffling of ineffective teachers from higher-performing schools to already lower-performing schools.”
Attorneys for the state have countered that changes to tenure laws should be considered by the Legislature and that the plaintiffs in the case had failed to show how the tenure laws hurt their children.
The Court of Appeals ruling echoed its decision in another case alleging that segregation has denied poor and minority children an adequate education. The Court of Appeals dismissed that suit in March. The Minnesota Supreme Court has agreed to review the case and is expected to hear arguments in the fall.
Anthony Lonetree • 612-673-4109