A California judge has ruled that the state's laws protecting teacher tenure are unconstitutional.
In a ruling handed down on Tuesday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge, Rolf Treu ruled that because California's tenure laws allow ineffective teachers to retain permanent employment and because these teachers are largely employed in poor and minority school districts, that the laws violated the students fundamental right to equality in education.
"Plaintiffs claim that the challenged statutes result in grossly ineffective teachers obtaining and retaining permanent employment, and that these teachers are disproportionately situated in schools serving predominantly low-income and minority students," wrote Treu in his decision.
"This court finds that plaintiffs have met their burden of proof on all issues presented."
At another point in the decision, he added that "there is also no dispute that there are a significant number of grossly ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms."
Judge Treu stayed the implementation of his ruling in order to allow for appeals.
The lawsuit was originally brought by nine students from the LA unified School District, who claimed that poor teachers who allowed their classrooms to get out of control were putting students who wanted to learn at a disadvantage.
During the trial Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy testified that firing an incompetent, tenured teacher takes over two years on average and can sometimes take as long as 10 years. The legal process involved in a firing can cost the taxpayers anywhere from $250,000 to $450,000.
Another expert who testified claimed that a single year with a grossly ineffective teacher costs a classroom full of students $1.4 million in lifetime earnings.
The ruling has angered the large teachers' unions which are in favor of teacher tenure. In a statement made after the ruling the California Teachers Association called the decision "deeply flawed" and vowed an appeal.
"Circumventing the legislative process to strip teachers of their professional rights hurts our students and our schools," the association said in a statement.