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Students Sue Calif. Over Teacher Tenure, Seniority Policies

LOS ANGELES ( — A trial centered around California teacher tenure and seniority was underway Monday in a Los Angeles Superior Court.

The advocacy group Students Matter filed the lawsuit on behalf of nine public school students against the state saying that the policies allow bad teachers to stay in the classroom.

Vergara vs. California contends that California's teacher tenure seniority and dismissal policies violate the Constitution's equal protection clause by blocking all students from having access to quality education.

"The system is dysfunctional and arbitrary due to these outdates laws that handcuff school administrators," Theordore J. Boutrous, lead attorney on the case, said.

Students Sue Over California Teacher Tenure Policies

Other states have been weakening such policies, making it easier for administrators to fire bad teachers, however, legal efforts in California have failed.

Teachers' unions argue the changes lower morale and unfairly target older educators.

"Students need a stable, experienced teaching workforce. They won't have one if this lawsuit succeeds in gutting basic teacher rights," Josh Pechthalt, President of the California Federation of Teachers, said.

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, who has asked for these policies to change after the district was hit with several teacher molestation lawsuits, was expected to be one of the first witnesses to testify.

The trial was expected to last through March.

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