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Vergara legal team joining similar teacher case in New York

LA School Report | August 6, 2014

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Marcellus McRae, a lawyer for Vergara plaintiffs LAUSD

Marcellus McRae, a lawyer for Vergara plaintiffs at news conference on day of trial decision

The LA-based legal team that prevailed in Vergara v. California, convincing a California judge to strike down state laws governing teacher employment, has been brought into a similar lawsuit now underway in New York.

Students Matter, sponsor of Vergara, said today that Vergara lawyers, including Ted Boutrous and Marcellus McRae, would represent the plaintiffs in Davids v. New York, which was originally filed July 3. No trial date has been set.

Davids seeks to declare unconstitutional statutes in New York law similar to those in California, preventing school administrators from taking into account the interests of students in retaining effective teachers when making dismissal and layoff decisions in economic downturns.

As plaintiffs claimed in Vergara, the New York plaintiffs say the state laws have a substantially negative impact on students’ education by keeping ineffective teachers in the classroom and dismissing effective teachers.

“We plan to show that New York’s current education system does not serve the needs of kids and in fact prevents them from accessing a sound education,” Boutrous said in a press release from Students Matter.  “Research shows without a doubt that teacher quality is the number one in-school determinant of educational effectiveness. The system created by New York’s laws restricts access to quality teachers and detracts from the overriding purpose of New York’s education system: to serve the best interest of students.”

Plaintiffs in the Davids case are 11 public school children from New York City, who claim to be at substantial risk of being harmed as a result of the state laws.

Students Matter is an organization that was founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur David F. Welch for the sole purpose of challenging the California laws.

“I am a child of our public education and know first-hand the importance of a good education and great teachers on a student’s life trajectory,” Welch said in the release. “I believe great teachers should be protected, but I also believe that our public education systems have failed to put the needs and success of our students above all else by being blind to the quality of our teachers.  We have a responsibility to ensure that state law—whether in New York or California—guarantees that the needs of students comes first and that every student has access to an effective teacher.”

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