FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 28, 2019
Contact: Alissa Bernstein (646) 874-3602
LaTasha Gandy (612) 910-3658
Statement on Forslund v. Minnesota
St. Paul, MN – The nonprofit organization Partnership for Educational Justice (PEJ) has issued a statement regarding Forslund v. Minnesota, and announced that the parent plaintiffs have decided not to pursue additional appeals in the teacher quality lawsuit seeking to reform the state’s teacher tenure laws. Therefore, the current case has come to an end.
Last month the state’s intermediate appeals court ruled to dismiss the case. However, in its ruling, the court reconsidered its prior decision to dismiss and reversed its prior reasoning for dismissal, now making a critical ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, that the case did not present a non-justiciable political question. In addition, the court also agreed with the plaintiffs’ argument that they had standing to pursue these claims. However, the court also made new dispositive findings and ultimately ruled to dismiss the case on alternative grounds.
“We are proud to have supported the Forslund parents in their pursuit of educational justice and we look forward to seeing what will come next from this courageous group of parents who have ignited a movement for reform in their state,” said Nekima Levy Pounds, pro bono attorney for the Forslund plaintiffs.
“I am proud of the parents in this case who against all odds showed up to speak their truth, for not only their children, but all children in Minnesota impacted by the inequities in education in our state. This is not the end of these parents and others’ truth being told to the powers that be. As a parent of children of color and a community organizer, I am committed to the fight for educational excellence for kids, as well as their parents. Through the ground gained in this case and the work of a parent-led organization I’ve recently founded, together, we will unapologetically stand-up and demand our children’s academic success,” said Latasha Gandy, Parents Radically Organized (PROs).
“After careful consideration, the brave parent plaintiffs who brought questions about the link between teacher quality and student rights before the Minnesota courts have decided against another appeal to the state’s Supreme Court. Although the dispositive component of the state’s intermediate appeals court’s decision ruled against the parents’ claims, we recognize significant grounds gained in the marathon of change in a lasting, meaningful way.
Forslund v. Minnesota has opened the courthouse doors by settling an essential matter of the law: that there is not a limited scope for parents to ask the courts to assess educational adequacy claims. Two parts of the dismissal ruling actually empower more families to build strong cases for reform, by establishing the courtroom is the place to bring educational adequacy claims, and that parents are the proper parties to make those claims.
Those key precedents will remain. We’ve learned from this case, when education laws are failing kids, lawmakers aren’t the only ones who can make change, because parents have a voice that the courts will hear.
Like other movements that have used impact litigation to achieve reform, we know wars aren’t won in a single battle or court case—and it’s always the right time to get informed and involved. Right now in New York, a similar case has entered a precedent-setting discovery phase that may soon show us the scope of impact that outmoded teacher tenure laws have on students’ educational experience. We look forward to seeing continued progress,” said PEJ Executive Director Alissa Bernstein.
Forslund v. Minnesota was filed on April 14, 2016, by four mothers from across Minnesota. The lawsuit challenged the state’s teacher tenure, dismissal, and seniority-based layoff laws. The plaintiffs alleged that these laws perpetuate disparities in education outcomes by preventing dismissal of chronically ineffective teachers. The plaintiffs filed their lawsuit following unsuccessful bi-partisan legislative efforts to reform teacher employment statutes. The Forslund v. Minnesota plaintiffs were represented by pro bono attorneys from the law firms Fishman Haygood, Bassford Remele, and civil rights attorney Nekima Levy-Pounds.
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.