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California Appeals Court Hears Arguments In High-Stakes Teacher Tenure Case

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A California appeals court has heard oral arguments in a high-stakes legal battle over the state’s teacher tenure, seniority and dismissal laws.

At issue is whether those laws disproportionately – and unconstitutionally – harm low-income and minority students.

A lower court’s ruling was an emphatic “yes.” What the appeals court might do is unclear: Each side is expressing confidence.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Ted Boutrous says the unions’ arguments failed to reach the high legal hurdle created by the lower court ruling.

”They have a mountain to climb, and they didn’t come close to climbing it and getting it overturned,” Boutrous says. “It was based on an overwhelming amount of expert, factual evidence, so it was very interesting to see them just rearguing their pathetic factual arguments.”

But attorney Michael Rubin, who represents the unions, says the lower court overreached.

“To our relief and satisfaction today, the three justices in the court of appeal clearly seem to recognize that and seem poised to reverse the trial judge and  to reinstate the statutes,” Rubin says, adding: “We are very confident after the oral argument that we will prevail.”

The ruling must come within 90 days and will likely be appealed to the California Supreme Court.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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