The resolution presented at a board meeting allows Huberman to fire the roughly 200 lowest performers first, rather than basing firing solely on seniority. The measure drew immediate fire from union leadership, who said it would circumvent the contract, in place since 2007.Well not so fast!
The board policy allows for the dismissal of teachers who are already under remediation or whose last evaluation was "unsatisfactory." It would cover layoffs that result from drops in student enrollment, too.
While layoffs are not a certainty, the school district has an estimated half-billion-dollar budget deficit.
Huberman is using the Illinois school code as his rationale for the last-minute switch. Under the code, "performance ratings or evaluations" is one of several criteria to be considered in layoffs.
But that conflicts with the contract, which calls for layoffs based on tenure. Huberman and his legal team believe that the school code supersedes the contract.
"The Illinois school code takes precedence here," explained Huberman.
While the board may have discretion under the state law, they have already exercised their choice by agreeing to a teacher contract, said Terry Smith, a law professor at DePaul University.OK and reading this article the teacher's union has a problem with this. So Huberman may be picking an unfortunate fight, but ridding the schools of unsatisfactory teachers isn't a bad move in any way!
Further, tenure can be considered a property right, which means teachers are entitled to a due process hearing if it is going to be revoked, he said.
And finally, there is precedent for using the contract as a guidepost for layoffs.
"It's very important that they've adhered to seniority over the years because it indicates a mutual understanding of what the contract means," Smith said.