The New Jersey Supreme Court today denied the State’s September 2016 motion to re-open the decades-old school funding lawsuit, Abbott v. Burke. As part of their broad motion, the State had asked the court to grant the State Commissioner of Education – a political appointee – the authority to waive enforcement of the State’s “last in, first out” (LIFO) teacher layoff law, among other education laws and negotiated policies.
In response to the State’s motion, six Newark parents also filed a motion with the Supreme Court against the State’s legal tactics to address LIFO. These same parents instead are fighting the LIFO statute on its own in the trial court. Their case, HG v. Harrington, asserts that New Jersey’s quality-blind LIFO law violates students’ constitutional right to a “thorough and efficient” education by allowing ineffective teachers to remain in classrooms while effective teachers are let go. The plaintiff families have asked the court to declare LIFO unconstitutional and render it unenforceable in Newark and similar districts.
The Supreme Court’s denial of the State’s motion today means that the lawsuit filed in November by six Newark parents is the only case pending to address New Jersey’s outdated LIFO statute.
The following is a statement by Ralia Polechronis, Executive Director of Partnership for Educational Justice:
“This ruling is a big win for New Jersey parents and schoolchildren. The Supreme Court has echoed the position of a group of Newark parents, who argued to this court that the state’s unjust quality-blind teacher layoff law must be evaluated on its own, and not in connection with a decades-old school funding lawsuit. Concerned about looming school budget cuts, these same parents – the plaintiffs in HG v. Harrington – will continue their fight in the state’s trial court to invalidate the “last in, first out” law that prevents the retention of Newark’s best teachers during funding crises. These brave parents are leading the charge for students’ rights in New Jersey, and they will not back down until the harmful impact of this law is revealed and deemed unconstitutional.”