For Immediate Release:
April 25, 2018
Maggie McKeon, 315.730.5101, Maggie@kpa.nyc
NEWARK PARENTS URGE COURT TO RESTORE LAWSUIT CHALLENGING NEW JERSEY’S LIFO LAWS
Newark, NJ – The HG v. Harrington plaintiff families were back in court today to demand that their case for educational justice be allowed to move forward. The plaintiffs are a group of Newark Public Schools parents seeking to enforce New Jersey’s constitutional guarantees to an education. In the trial court, the defendants from Newark Public Schools had admitted nearly every allegation made by the plaintiffs regarding the detrimental impact New Jersey’s LIFO laws have on children within the district. However, in spite of the district’s admissions, the trial judge granted motions to dismiss the case that were filed by intervening defendants from the local and national teachers unions.
“With recent data showing that most of the state’s ineffective teachers are concentrated in Newark Public Schools, Newark students are at significantly higher risk of being assigned an ineffective teacher. State laws that guarantee ineffective teachers’ jobs simply based on seniority create a system that unjustifiably prioritizes the interests of adults over Newark’s children. PEJ is proud to stand with the parents and families fighting on behalf of all Newark’s children for the constitutional right to a quality education,” said Alissa Bernstein, Executive Director of Partnership for Educational Justice.
“We are sick and tired of unjust rules that protect the weakest teachers at the expense of our children. To raise the quality of teaching in Newark, we must focus on teacher quality over seniority,” said Tanisha Garner, a plaintiff and Newark Public Schools parent.
In oral arguments before the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, the pro bono attorneys from Arnold & Porter and Tompkins, McGuire, Wachenfeld & Barry who represent the parent-plaintiffs argued that New Jersey’s LIFO statutes violate students’ constitutional rights to an education. They allege that these laws unjustly require Newark, a struggling school district, to retain ineffective teachers, while cutting millions of dollars each year from other areas of education spending or laying off more effective teachers when faced with funding deficits.
Research shows that teacher quality is the most influential in-school factor when it comes to student learning. It also shows that student achievement improves when principals are allowed to hire school staff according to quality and fit. Despite this overwhelming evidence, Newark Public Schools are disproportionately affected by New Jersey’s antiquated LIFO laws because they employ a higher concentration of teachers with less than effective ratings.
About Partnership for Educational Justice (PEJ)
PEJ pursues educational equity through legal action to improve the quality of public schools. PEJ utilizes a variety of legal actions to achieve its mission, including pursuing impact litigation, amicus brief filings, Freedom of Information Act requests, and other law-related avenues that seek to achieve meaningful reforms of education laws or policies that fail to prioritize students’ rights. PEJ is an affiliate of the national education nonprofit 50CAN: 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now, which advocates at the local level for a high-quality education for all kids, regardless of their address.