Capitol Alert

Brown keeps mostly mum on teacher tenure ruling

In his first public comments on the controversial Vergara v. California ruling that struck down teacher tenure laws in June, Gov. Jerry Brown offered little insight into his thinking on the ruling.

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, he said only that Attorney General Kamala Harris had on Monday filed a request for additional information from the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Brown said the state will wait to see the court’s response to its request before taking any other steps, such as an appeal.

“You haven’t heard from me because I haven’t said anything,” he told a reporter who noted he had not yet commented on the ruling.

The attorney general’s request for a statement of decision covers 22 pages and asks Judge Rolf Michael Treu to explain the factual and legal justification for his decison in the final ruling. Among dozens of other questions, it asks the court to provide evidence for its finding that the laws challenged in the suit create negative educational outcomes for poor and minority students in particular, thus violating their civil rights.

In his tentative ruling in favor of the plaintiffs – nine public school students sponsored by education nonprofit Students Matter – Treu struck down laws providing for a two-year probationary period before teachers can receive tenure, the layoff of teachers in order of seniority without regard for teaching performance and 45 or 90-day notices before dismissal for unsatisfactory performance or unprofessional conduct. Teachers’ unions charge that the ruling eliminates job security for teachers.

The plaintiffs have also filed a request for a statement of decision, according to Students Matter spokesman Manny Rivera.

Jonathan Goldman, spokesman for the California Teachers Association, said his organization, a co-defendant in the case, had filed its own request in addition to the state’s. Goldman noted that the judge’s 16-page ruling was brief considering that the trial spanned two months.

“The decision didn’t go into a lot of detail about why,” Goldman said. “For anybody to move forward with an appeal, or anything else, all parties need to know why.”

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