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Many Advocacy Groups Silent On Landmark Education Suit

Publication Date: 
February 10, 2014
Daily Journal
Chase Scheinbaum

Professor William Koski comments on the possible consequences of a landmark education lawsuit in Los Angeles for The Daily Journal.

Outside the courtroom, plaintiffs in a landmark education suit being tried in Los Angeles County Superior Court have enjoyed vocal support from numerous prominent figures. Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has spoken out, as has state Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen.

And the plaintiffs' first witness, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John E. Deasy, has voiced support from the witness stand and beyond for the case, which seeks to overhaul teacher tenure laws to make it easier to terminate ineffective educators.


Making clear that he was speculating about the litigation itself, Stanford Law School professor William Koski, who is involved in two ongoing education reform lawsuits in California, offered a different possibility. "Some might say a loss would damage some equal protection law," he said.

"Over time, we'll see how much support there is from that community, especially when this case gets appealed," Koski said. Later in the proceedings, the trial court judge or appellate justices may invite friend-of-the-court briefs from the advocacy community's usual suspects, Koski said.


"In the education world, it's the blockbuster of the year," Koski said.

In the plaintiff's theory that teacher tenure laws violate the state constitution's equal protection clause, legal experts see a claim that is both a novel attack on union-bargained statutes, and a difficult case to make.

"Issues of teacher employment have almost exclusively been dealt with by the Legislature and across collective bargaining tables. To me, it's fascinating that you've taken this traditional policy question that is extremely complicated in how it plays out in schools, taken it away from legislators and put it in courts," Koski said. "That's a bold and novel move."