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State teachers union filed lawsuit over Educator Effectiveness Act

11:01 PM, Jan 29, 2014   |    comments
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DENVER - When the law was passed in 2010, supporters of Senate bill 191 said it would end what amounted to tenure of veteran public school teachers. Now, the Colorado Education Association says the law is unfair.

"We continue to have serious concerns about portions of the law," CEA president Kerrie Dallman said.

Wednesday morning, CEA filed suit against the Colorado State Board of Education and Denver Public Schools over one particular provision in the law called "Mutual Consent." This provision states that both principal and teacher must agree before that teacher is placed in a certain school.

But, Dallman and union leaders allege that DPS is using that provision to keep veteran teachers from finding placement in schools. She says 100 Denver teachers have been terminated without due process.

"We believe that school districts are using school-based hiring provisions of the law to unfairly and systematically remove highly experienced and qualified teachers from our classrooms," Dallman said.

But, 9News Political Analyst Floyd Ciruli believes there is something deeper happening here.

"We are watching probably one of the most important conflicts in the state right now," Ciruli said.

He says teachers unions nationally are losing power. Ciruli believes that the passage of Educator Effectiveness Act attacks one of the main missions of the unions, protecting the jobs of veteran teachers regardless of their performance in the classroom. He says CEA is trying to protect its power.

"My sense is that they are in for a very long battle in which they are mostly on the defensive," Ciruli said.

Ciruli says the union has already lost power in Douglas County. He says Jefferson County appears to be next. And, it is happening in Denver and in other districts around the state.

"That has been bubbling up for over a decade now," Ciruli said. "Significant elements with the Democratic party are moving pro-reform."

The Colorado Department of Education issued a statement which reads in part, "We have instructed the Attorney General's Office to vigorously defend this challenge."

Denver Public Schools issued this statement, "The practice of forced placement is wrong. It is wrong for our students, wrong for our teachers, and wrong for our schools. It is particularly harmful because it disproportionately impacts our highest-poverty schools where our kids have the greatest need for excellent teachers."

CEA is ready for the battle. It is also backing proposals by Sen. Nancy Todd, (D) Aurora, and Rep. Joe Salazar, (D) Thornton, to change the wording of the Educator Effectiveness Act.

"Teachers are being discharged without cause and no law should be used to drive quality teachers out of the classroom," Amie Baca-Oehlert, vice president of CEA, said.

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