Ill. Supreme Court sides with CPS in laid off tenured teachers case

February 17, 2012

WBEZ/The Associated Press

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis

The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that laid off tenured teachers in Chicago do not have a right to be rehired later.

The 5-2 ruling Friday came after budget cuts in 2010 forced the city to lay off nearly 1,300 teachers. The Chicago Board of Education later recalled about 715 tenured teachers. But the Chicago Teachers Union sued when laid-off tenured instructors did not get first dibs on other open positions.

The court ruled the Chicago school board's layoff and rehiring procedures do not mimic those in other districts, and that state law does not require preference for out-of-work tenured teachers.

The Chicago Teachers Union has expressed discontent with the court’s decision.

"We're disappointed that neither the board nor the court recognizes the value of experienced educators. At the very least, we wished they would’ve of shown us the respect that tenure teachers in every other district in the state get—which is the right to recall, if they've been laid off through no fault of their own," said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharke.

He said that teachers should have the right to recall.

“It’s a right that auto-workers get and I don’t see why it’s something a tenured teacher shouldn’t have,” said Sharke.

He said the union will use pressure politically and at the bargaining table to get fairness for its members.  

Donald Moore is Executive Director of Designs for Change, a Chicago based organization that researches the practices of effective urban schools. His organization filed an amicus brief, in favor of CTU.

Moore said the board of Chicago Public Schools has been motivated to remove veteran teachers and replace them with younger, inexperienced ones for lesser pay. He acknowledged that the city may save money from this tactic.

“It takes seven years for a person who has teaching potential to become highly effective,” Moore said. He added that younger teachers have high turnover rates and tend to leave a school after two years.

CPS called the court decision “historically significant” and said it empowers principals to make the best hiring decisions to boost student academic achievements.

The Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools are currently negotiating a new labor agreement. Sharke said it includes discussions about what happens to tenured teachers when they are laid off.