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7-8-04 MPS press release re 608 teacher layoffs, realignment
Write-in "Doug Mann" for School Board
Another Option for Minneapolis School Board Voters (2004 General Election)
by Doug Mann, 29 Oct 2004, Submitted to the Star-Tribune for publication 28 Oct 2004

Note: The press release below states that budget cuts forced the district to layoff 608 teachers, but only 210 teacher positions were actually cut from the 2004-2005 budget compared to the previous year.

For immediate release
Contact: Cheri Reese, Executive Director of Public Affairs

 Minnesota Teacher Tenure Law Governs Teacher Realignment Process in Minneapolis Public Schools

 Minneapolis, MN—In the wake of recent teacher layoffs, the Minneapolis Public Schools has realigned tenured teachers according to rules established by the Minnesota Teacher Tenure Law. The reduction of 608 teachers for next fall reflects an anticipated enrollment decline of 4,600 students from Fall 2003 to Fall 2004.

“Staff layoffs of this magnitude are extremely difficult,” said Interim Superintendent Mitch Trockman. “While the district has made every effort to minimize the disruption caused by teacher layoffs, we are bound by a landmark court decision that dictates how school districts must apply seniority in teacher layoffs.”

 In the case of Arlene M. Strand, Edward P. Lue and Barbara Johnson v. Special School District No.1, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in 1986 that the Teacher Tenure Act requires districts to save tenured teaching positions by realigning teachers who hold multiple teaching licenses.

 Law dictates that realignment must be educationally “reasonable and practical.” Legally, this interpretation is very narrow. The Minnesota Department of Education considers a teacher qualified for teaching in a given area if the person holds a valid license in that area. Thus, several tenured teachers who hold more than one license have been reassigned to a new area.

For example, a third-grade tenured teacher who holds an arts license in addition to her elementary teaching license would be reassigned to an art position held by a less senior teacher, thereby preventing the layoff of a tenured, elementary teacher. Legal precedent requires the district to realign teachers in this manner. An attorney from Education Minnesota has worked collaboratively with the district’s human  resources department in the realignment process to ensure that the district is following the letter of the law.

 “The district will make every attempt to mitigate disruptions caused by this realignment process,” noted Trockman. “We will hold staff orientations and trainings for teachers who are entering areas of instruction that may be new to them.”