A federal court ruled that Chicago Public School teachers laid off
last summer for budgetary reasons have the right under the U.S.
Constitution to show they are qualified to fill new vacancies within the
district as they arise. In the ruling, the judges affirmed a
lower-court injunction that required CPS administrators to establish a
recall procedure for current and future laid-off educators. CTU
President Karen Lewis said in a statement that the ruling will allow
experienced teachers to speak up for their students and schools without
worrying about getting arbitrarily fired. "Once again teachers can
defend students' education rights and take the steps necessary to
improve their schools without fear of retribution from the [Board of
Education] or an errant principal," she said.
But Chicago Public Schools is claiming victory as well. "[T]he appeals court ruled that the reduction in force remains valid and that the Board is not required to reinstate or provide back pay to teachers who were laid off from June to August 2010," a statement from the district reads. The statement says the Board of Education is "evaluating its legal options in light of today’s ruling."
The legal battle began soon after the Board of Ed laid of 1,289 teachers before the start of the current school year; approximately 715 tenured teachers were then hired backed last August. Some of the educators CPS hired back were not tenured teachers, however. CPS did not list all job vacancies on their website and the laid-off teachers were not given preference for other teaching jobs, today's court ruling says. The judges took issue with that. "[T]here could be no conceivable harm to the public resulting from the consideration of tenured teachers for existing vacancies," the ruling reads.
The ruling also took a little dig at CPS's public relations tactics in today's ruling as well: "Although the [Board of Education] suggested to the media that the layoffs largely involved teachers with unsatisfactory evaluations, most of the teachers laid off had 'excellent,' 'superior,' or 'satisfactory' ratings.'" The Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky's has been covering that side of this story for some time now.