Gov. Jerry Brown and State Attorney General Kamala Harris have appealed the Superior Court ruling that the state laws on teacher tenure and seniority are unconstitutional.
In the one-page appeal, Harris provided three reasons. The first was the state Constitution requires a higher court, either the Court of Appeals or the state Supreme Court, to review and decide important issues such as these with statewide legal impact.
She also stated, “The decision, which purports to invalidate educational policies in existence since 1921, was made in a short Tentative Decision,” and the judge failed to provide a detailed statement of the factual or legal bases for his ruling.
In June, Judge Rolf M. Treu found that the statutes on granting teachers tenure after two years, the dismissal process for ineffective teachers and the layoff process of last-hired, first-fired were unconstitutional.
On Wednesday, Aug. 27, he issued his final decision confirming the initial ruling. This began a 60-day period for the filing of appeals.
Early Friday, Aug. 29, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, in a tight re-election race this fall, requested Harris appeal the decision.
“The people who dedicate their lives to the teaching profession deserve our admiration and support. Instead, this ruling lays the failings of our education system at their feet.
“We do not fault doctors when the emergency room is full. We do not criticize the firefighter whose supply of water runs dry …,” Torlakson continued in his press release.
“While the statutes in this case are not under my jurisdiction as state superintendent, it is clear that the court’s ruling is not supported by the facts or the law. Its vagueness provides no guidance about how the Legislature could successfully alter the challenged statutes to satisfy the court. Accordingly, I will ask the attorney general to seek appellate review,” he announced.
His opponent, Marshall Tuck, disagreed with Torlakson’s recommendation. “By deciding to appeal the Vergara ruling, my opponent Tom Torlakson has placed a stake in the ground; he stands with his Sacramento funders and not with students,” he said.
Late Friday evening, Brown had Harris submit the state’s one-page appeal.
On Saturday, Brown’s November gubernatorial opponent, Neal Kashkari, posted on his Twitter account, “I am beside myself with anger that JB is appealing Vergara [the name of the court case]. His lifetime of empty words about caring for the poor is utterly worthless.” Then added, “What does the decision have to do with pay? Nothing. And all those kids of parents in other professions without tenure?”