Lawsuit by CEA may end some Colorado education reform

A lawsuit by the Colorado Education Association could change portions of education reform that have been in place since 2010. A media release from CEA states the litigation addresses

“Proven flaws in the mutual consent provision of Senate Bill 10-91 that allows school districts to remove qualified teachers from the classroom”.

The lawsuit could be related to Denver Public Schools teachers who lost their jobs after the pilot program based on Senate Bill 10-191 (SB191) was put into place. The statue of limitation is approaching and according to Megan Schrader at the Gazette despite efforts by the State Board of Education extending the deadline was not approved.

A CEA spokesman insists the teachers were not dismissed due to poor performance, but because of budget cuts. However, the teachers were unable to find work elsewhere due to a “mutual consent” agreement.

Tom Boasberg, Denver Public Schools Superintendent said the issue is mutual consent.

“Forced placement of teachers is wrong,” Boasberg was quoted as saying in the Post. “It’s wrong for students, it’s wrong for teachers and it’s wrong for schools. Nobody benefits when a teacher is placed in a school that does not want them.”

SB191 also implements a high stakes evaluation system for teachers based partly on student performance and test scores. The system allows tenured teachers to be dismissed for low performance as well as other reasons. The teacher can only go to a new school if there is mutual consent between the teacher and school principal. School districts state-wide are implementing the legislation.

Amendment 66 was a proposed $1 billion tax increase for public education.

Voters defeated Amendment 66 with 64 percent of the vote. The proposal would have increased income taxes and generated additional funding for kindergarten through 12th-grade education. Amendment 66 promised to help fund some of the reforms that were passed in 2010 under SB191.

Board of Education members insisted they wanted SB191 implemented at other school districts before going to court.  Unsuccessful mediation was attempted between teachers unions and Denver Public Schools by Gov. John Hickenlooper and his staff. He is concerned that failure will jeopardize public opinion of Amendment 66.