SAN JOSE (CBS/AP) – Lawyers representing seven California schoolchildren have filed a lawsuit against the state seeking to overturn statutes that govern teacher employment, including seniority-based layoffs.

The lawsuit, sponsored by nonprofit education reform group Students Matter, was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Monday against the state and Gov. Jerry Brown, as well as state education officials and two school districts: Los Angeles Unified and Alum Rock Union in San Jose.

The suit was filed on behalf of a 10-year-old student in the Alum Rock district and six Los Angeles Unified students.

KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:

The suit claims that school administrators are handcuffed by present laws, which makes it virtually impossible to get rid of ineffective teachers. The questioned statutes encompass procedures for seniority-based layoffs, teacher dismissal, and teacher tenure.

“The outdated laws in California prevent the recruitment, support and retention of the most effective teachers,” said plaintiff attorney Theane Kapur. “They force administrators to leave grossly ineffective teachers in the classrooms.”

Kapur said school districts in low income areas often have a disproportionate share of ineffective teachers.

“In fact, in some school districts, students of color are 2-3 times more likely to have teachers at the very bottom in terms of effectiveness than their peers,” she said.

The California Teachers Association said layoffs based on seniority were recently upheld by two administrative law judges.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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