On May 3, state Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson dismissed a lawsuit brought by a half-dozen Newark parents, who claimed that New Jersey’s “last in first out” (LIFO) seniority-based layoff rules for teachers deprived New Jersey’s children of their constitutional right to a “thorough and efficient” education.
The parents also alleged that, given that Newark had a higher concentration of ineffective teachers than most school districts, the operation of the LIFO statute violated their children’s rights pursuant to the New Jersey Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. In dismissing the complaint, the judge found that the parents had failed to show how individual students were harmed by any reduction in force.
According to the complaint, in order to avoid layoffs of effective teachers in the current environment of reduced enrollment and funding, Newark had created a pool of ineffective teachers who were taken out of the classroom. The ineffective teachers, however, remained on the payroll “draining millions of dollars per year from Newark’s budget.”
Neither the New Jersey Education Association nor the American Federation of Teachers were originally named in the case but both were granted defendant-intervenors’ standing to argue before the court. The plaintiffs have indicated they are considering an appeal, according to published reports.