The lawsuit asserts that laws governing teacher tenure requirements, dismissal procedures, and quality-blind layoffs violate students’ right to an adequate education

Click to read the full appeal

Latasha Gandy, Executive Director of Students for Education Reform Minnesota (SFER MN) at (651) 200-5162
Melody Meyer, Partnership for Educational Justice at (646) 770-7061

St. Paul, MN—Four mothers today appealed a district court’s dismissal of Forslund v. Minnesota, which challenges state education laws providing ironclad job security to chronically ineffective teachers. The lawsuit asserts that laws governing teacher tenure requirements, dismissal procedures, and quality-blind layoff statutes, violate students’ rights by allowing ineffective teachers to remain in classrooms long after they have demonstrated themselves to be ineffective. Minnesota’s State Constitution and Supreme Court case law guarantee that all children in the state have a fundamental right to an adequate public education. The mothers’ lawsuit was first filed in April 2016. Oral argument before the Minnesota Court of Appeals, if granted, is anticipated for this spring or early summer.

“This lawsuit is about our children. And when your child is suffering, as a parent you can’t back down,” said Roxanne Draughn, mother of two from St. Paul and a plaintiff in Forslund v. Minnesota.

In their appeal, the plaintiffs point to state standards that require effective teaching as a necessary component to an adequate education. They urge the courts to use these pre-existing guidelines to evaluate the constitutionality of teacher employment laws that provide ironclad job security to chronically ineffective teachers even when, by the state’s own definition, such teachers are unable to meet effectiveness standards.

This is a marked difference between Forslund v. Minnesota and Cruz-Guzman v. Minnesota, an education lawsuit that was dismissed by the Court of Appeals earlier this month because the court was unwilling to define the “qualitative standard” to evaluate the educational adequacy claims at issue. Additionally, the Cruz-Guzman plaintiffs challenged general policies and practices, while the Forslund plaintiffs are challenging specific laws that protect the employment of ineffective teachers.

“It is the courts’ role to ensure that laws do not violate constitutional rights,” said Jesse Stewart, attorney with Fishman Haygood, the lead firm representing the Forslund plaintiffs.

A full copy of the Minnesota parents’ appeal, along with all other legal filings related to the case, is available for download here.

About Partnership for Educational Justice (PEJ)
Founded in 2014, PEJ is a nonprofit organization pursuing impact litigation that empowers families and communities to advocate for great public schools through the courts. PEJ is currently working with parents and students in Minnesota, New York, and New Jersey in support of legal challenges to unjust teacher employment statutes in those states. In all three states, PEJ has connected families with pro bono legal representation and is providing parents with ongoing legal, advocacy, and communications support.

About Students for Education Reform Minnesota (SFER-Minn)
SFER-Minn organizes students and families to fight for educational justice in their communities. Their members identify issues that are driving inequities in the education they receive, share their stories, and push for lasting policy change on campus, in the community, at the Capitol, and – when necessary, in the courts – to ensure every child in Minnesota receives an equitable education. Other current SFER-Minn efforts include addressing Minnesota’s broken remedial education system, promoting statewide standards and oversight for how police work in schools, and monitoring local school board performance.