The Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a lawsuit contending that state laws make it too difficult to boot “chronically ineffective” teachers from classrooms.
The state’s highest court revives a case that was dismissed by lower courts.
A state Court of Appeals ruling said it was up to the Legislature, not the courts, to make the rules on teacher tenure.
In its order, the Supreme Court granted just one issue for review: whether the court can judge the parents’ claims about tenure laws harming students’ rights.
Parents brought the suit, Forslund v. Minnesota, last April.
It claims the state’s tenure laws violate students’ rights to an adequate education. The parents said they think the seniority laws are unconstitutional.
The Court of Appeals dismissed the suit in September, in part because the court was not in a position to judge a standard for education, the appeals opinion said. Ramsey County District Court had dismissed the case previously.
Attorneys for the state have argued 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.
Supporters of the lawsuit cheered the Supreme Court’s ruling. “The issues at hand in Forslund v. Minnesota are important for every public school family in Minnesota, and every Minnesotan who cares about a quality education for kids,” Partnership for Educational Justice executive director Alissa Bernstein said in a statement Tuesday.
The group has been involved in similar lawsuits in New York and New Jersey. Both cases are still active. A teacher tenure suit in California was dismissed.
The teachers union Education Minnesota expressed disappointment. The lawsuit misguides the public about the point of tenure, said union President Denise Specht.
“These laws prevent good teachers from being fired for bad reasons,” she said in a statement Tuesday. “They protect teachers who speak out about the learning conditions in their schools, or for advocating for their students on the margins.”
The state Supreme Court will wait to hear the case until the resolution of the school integration lawsuit Cruz-Guzman v. State. Parents in that suit say that segregation in schools denies poor and minority children an adequate education.