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Union Intervention Could Delay Tenure Lawsuit

Hillel Aron | April 5, 2013

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Students Matters‘ David Welch, third from the left, surrounded by his legal team

Last week, the California Teachers Association (CTA) and the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit Vergara v. State of California, which seeks to overturn five education laws in California (seniority-based layoffs, teacher tenure, and three dismissal statutes that make firing a teacher so onerous).

“This lawsuit is baseless and meritless, and hurts student learning,” said CTA President Dean E. Vogel in a blog post. “It is the latest attempt by corporate special interests and billionaires to push their education agenda on California public schools.”

However, an attorney for the eight plaintiffs Marcellus McRae, told LA School Report that if the judge does allow the two unions to intervene it could delay the start of the trial.

“We’re focused on keeping this trial date,” he said. “We don’t want it derailed.”

The suit is being bankrolled by Students Matter, which was founded by tech entrepreneur David Welch. They’ve hired a team of lawyers that includes the two Teds — Boutrous and Olson — who recently argued against the constitutionality of Proposition 8 in front of the United States Supreme Court.

If the judge agrees with the motion, the two state teachers unions will join the State of California and the LA Unified School District as defendants in the suit, currently slated for trial in January 2014.

Plaintiff’s lawyer McRae said that he worries more defendants could complicate and even widen the scope of the trial.

“What happens, invariably, is that the more players you have, the more voices you have, the more issues you have,” said McRae. “Each side tries to say what the case is actually about.”

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