The New Jersey Supreme Court has declined to review an appeals court ruling dismissing a lawsuit seeking invalidation of tenure and due process rules for the state’s teachers.
The plaintiffs in the case, H.G. v. Harrington, are several Newark Public Schools (NPS) students and parents. The plaintiffs were supported by the Partnership for Educational Justice, a group formed by former television news anchor Campbell Brown, who is behind similar lawsuits about teacher tenure laws in Minnesota and New York.
The plaintiffs challenged the statutory rule mandating that “reduction in force” (RIF) decisions be based exclusively on seniority, claiming that the rule deprives students of a “thorough and efficient” education by reducing teacher quality. The plaintiffs filed the case despite admitting there was no evidence that the seniority rule actually resulted in the retention of ineffective tenured teachers at the expense of losing effective tenured teachers.
Because plaintiffs presented no evidence of any actual impact of the seniority rule on the teaching force in Newark, a trial court dismissed the case in May 2017, holding that the case was not ripe for review. The appellate court affirmed that decision in June 2018. The appellate court noted that not only did the plaintiffs concede there was no evidence of any negative impact of the seniority rule, they also admitted NPS had significantly reduced the number of tenured teachers rated ineffective or partially effective.
Despite these decisive rulings, the plaintiffs sought certification to appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court. On December 3, the Supreme Court denied the request and ruled that the plaintiffs must pay for the cost of filing the appeal request.
This decision is another court defeat for so called “education reform” groups seeking to attack due process for teachers. Courts in California and Minnesota also rejected legal attacks on teacher tenure in those states.
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