Judge Rules in Favor of Students in Vergara v. California

In a Tentative Decision announced earlier today, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu ruled in favor of the Plaintiffs in Vergara v. California, concluding that five provisions of the California Education Code are unconstitutional — Education Code section 44929.21 (two year probationary period); Education Code sections 44934, 44938(b)(1)-(2) and 44944 (dismissal of permanent teachers); and Education Code section 44955 (layoff by seniority).

Judge Treu concluded the Plaintiffs met their burden of proof on all issues presented, the five Education Code provisions “impose a real and appreciable impact on students’ fundamental right to equality of education,” and “they impose a disproportionate burden on poor and minority students.” Based on this finding Judge Treu imposed a “strict scrutiny” standard, rendering the statutes unconstitutional unless the State of California and the California Teachers Association could demonstrate a compelling state interest justifying the statutes, and that the distinctions drawn by the statutes are necessary to further that compelling interest. Judge Treu concluded the evidence did not meet this burden.

This decision has no immediate legal impact. Assuming it becomes final (a safe assumption) Judge Treu already issued a stay of the injunctions invalidating the statute, pending an anticipated appeal.

A copy of the Tentative Decision is posted here. We will soon issue an Alert describing the decision and its potential impact in more detail.

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