A judge in New Jersey threw out a lawsuit intended to remove teachers’ seniority rights. This is the third loss for the corporate reformer groups that have tried to use the courts to strip away teachers’ job security. The “reformers” blame teachers and unions for low test scores while ignoring overwhelming evidence that poverty is the proximate cause of low scores.

The first was the Vergara lawsuit in California, where a group called “Students Matter,” founded by a Silicon Valley billionaire, claimed that teacher tenure (due process of law) denied poor children equal opportunity. The plaintiffs won in the lowest court. They lost on appeal. And they lost again when they appealed to the states’ highest court.

A group found by former TV personality Campbell Brown called the Partnership for Educational Justice filed copycat suits in other states. One was tossed by a lower court.

Earlier this month, a judge in New Jersey dismissed a legal challenge to teacher seniority rules.

Rachel Cohen of The American Prospect reports on the corporate reformers’ latest defeat in court:

“Another legal effort to weaken teacher job protections through the courts has been dismissed, this time in the Garden State. On Wednesday afternoon, a New Jersey Superior Court judge tossed the latest case, ruling that the plaintiffs—six parents from Newark Public Schools—failed to prove that seniority-based layoffs harmed their students.

“Partnership for Educational Justice (PEJ), a national education reform group that aims to challenge teacher job protections across the country, funded the New Jersey lawsuit. Originally filed in November, the case marked the third time PEJ has gone after tenure provisions. Their first case filed in New York in 2014, is currently before the state Supreme Court. In October, a Minnesota district judge dismissed PEJ’s second suit, filed there in 2016. That case has since been appealed.”

Campbell Brown’s news site, The 74, reported the outcome of the case.

“A New Jersey judge swiftly dismissed a lawsuit Wednesday that challenged state rules requiring school districts to base teacher layoffs on seniority regardless of performance in the classroom.
New Jersey Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson told a Trenton courtroom that the plaintiffs had failed to establish how seniority-based layoff rules known as “last in, first out” were harming their children.

“I don’t see any link other than speculation and conjecture between the LIFO statute and the denial of a thorough and efficient education to these 12 children,” Jacobson said.

“The lawsuit, HG v. Harrington, was filed in November on behalf of a dozen Newark students, claiming that “last in, first out” mandates governing teacher layoffs violate their right to a “thorough and efficient” and “equal” education system under the state Constitution.

“The complaint was sponsored by The Partnership for Educational Justice, a national education reform nonprofit founded by 74 co-founder Campbell Brown. Named defendants include the New Jersey State Board of Education and Newark Public School District.

“The American Federation of Teachers and the New Jersey Education Association, considered “intervening” defendants in the case, filed the motion to dismiss.”