The Minnesota Court of Appeals has thrown out a lawsuit that claims that state laws make it too difficult to terminate bad teachers and winds up threatening students’ rights to a good education.
The dismissal comes nearly three years after a group of parents from Minneapolis, St. Paul, Eagan and Duluth, sued the state. They alleged that laws related to teacher contracts, tenure and dismissal protected inadequate teachers and sometimes cause more qualified teachers to be fired. They suggested that the laws violated the constitution because some students were stuck with bad teachers and didn’t receive the education they’re entitled to under state law.
Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge, Tracy Smith, wrote that the parents didn’t prove that the students’ constitutional rights had been violated.
“(The parents’) claims do not challenge individual tenure or dismissal decisions, nor do they rely on individual instances of ineffective teaching,” Smith wrote. “Rather, they assert that the challenged statutes burden their children’s education right by making it more difficult for districts to deny tenure and dismiss ineffective teachers.”
Several advocacy groups, including New York-based Partnership for Educational Justice, supported the lawsuit. Alissa Bernstein, the group’s executive director, said that her organization was “extremely disappointed” by the court’s decision.
“Forslund v. Minnesota surely shows the ups and downs of impact litigation,” she said. “We are proud to support the brave mothers who have nevertheless persisted in their pursuit for educational justice that asks the state to deliver on its promise of an adequate education for all children in Minnesota.”
Nekima Levy-Pounds, one of the attorneys representing the parents, said the ruling was “disappointing to the parents, children, and community members advocating for better educational outcomes for children in Minnesota.”
This isn’t the first ruling on this case. At the end of 2016, Ramsey County District Court Judge Margaret Marrinan dismissed the case because parents didn’t prove that their children’s rights were violated because of teacher tenure laws. She had that students had the right to attend school, but not the right to have an effective teacher.