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Chicago Teachers Union vs. Chicago Board of Education

Tenure Rights Restored in Chicago

03/29/2011

Teachers won an important battle in the war for quality schools today. The right for teachers to due process in terminations--tenure--has been restored. President Lewis urged CPS to take this opportunity to begin building trust with its teachers and PSRPs by implementing a fair recall policy immediately as ordered by the court today. CPS fired 1,300 teachers and 500 PSRPs last summer.

“We hope that the nation is watching,” said President Lewis.  “The concerted efforts in Wisconsin, Florida, Indiana and here in Illinois to turn teaching into a low-wage, high-turnover job cheats students and only serves business interests that want education on the cheap.   Experience counts and we must value the expert knowledge that comes with that experience once again.  All students deserve the most highly-qualified, experienced teachers available.”

Today’s decision upholds the October ruling by the U.S. District Court which ordered the Board to:

(1) rescind the discharge of tenured teachers, giving fired teachers the opportunity to be part of the recall process once established,

(2) develop a recall policy, and

(3) forbid the Board from any similar unlawful discharges in the future.

According to CTU lawyer Tom Geoghegan, “This is the second court in a little over five months to rule that the Board of Education has fired hundreds of teachers in violation of their constitutional rights.  We think the Board should end this litigation now and establish a recall policy consistent with the weighted criteria in the Illinois School Code and return these unlawfully fired teachers to their jobs.”

In the News:

From Progress Illinois: Federal Court Sides With CTU In Layoff Battle

From WBEZ: CPS and CTU have a different interpretations of court ruling.

From Chicago Tribune: Court upholds ruling on improperly fired CPS teachers

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

1)      What has the court ordered CPS to do?

The court agreed with the previous district court decision that CPS has to create an opportunity for our members who were "honorably terminated" to fill vacant positions as they arise.

2)      Does this mean I get my job back?

This means that CPS is required to create a recall policy that will give our laid-off members a chance to apply for upcoming vacancies. We do not yet know what this procedure will look like, however, the CTU will be making the case for a strong recall policy that gives our laid-off members with tenure and the proper qualifications the first chance to fill any open positions.

3)      Since the dismissals are rescinded does that mean I can go back to my old school?

No, this only means that CPS must withdraw the termination notices that were distributed over the summer and acknowledge that the employment relationship has not ended. They must do this by creating rules that allow you to show your qualifications for new vacancies "for a reasonable period of time."

4)      Will I get back-pay and benefits from this decision?

No, the federal decision only addresses tenure and recall rights. Our Union has grievances in arbitration and an Unfair Labor Practice charge which ask for back-pay and benefits as a remedy to the illegal firings of our members over the summer.

5) Why is this important?

CPS cannot treat tenured employees as if they have been terminated for cause, i.e. because they were fired for pedagogical reasons or for violating the employee discipline code. A tenured teacher, who is laid off, still has a “property right,” to have privileged access to future employment opportunities as they arise. 

6) What do I need to do moving forward?

We are still waiting for a recall policy and hope to have an organized and streamlined process for which recall will be managed.

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Oral Argument was heard Friday, January 7 on CPS's Appeal of Judge Coar's Order granting relief to the unlawfully dismissed teachers.

Click this link to download an mp3 audio recording of the Oral Arguments before the appellate court.

On October 4th, Judge Coar declared that the firing of tenured teachers under the Board’s June 15, 2010 resolution granting CEO Ron Huberman the power to fire teachers without regard to seniority or tenure was illegal. The judge further barred the Chicago Board of Education from “conducting future layoffs or ‘honorable discharges’ in a similarly unlawful manner.” The judge ordered the Chicago Board of Education to negotiate a set of recall rules.

Update- Although mediation was unsuccessful, CTU is pursuing the next legal round to bring justice for our members. CTU maintains that Judge Coar's ruling should still stand. CTU will continue our fight until a recall policy is implemented.

Chicago Teachers Union v. Chicago Board of Education will be heard on Friday, January 7th, 2011 at the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, 219 S. Dearborn Street Chicago, IL 60604.

Chicago Teachers Union