California Students Get Their Day in Court: Groundbreaking Education Equality Trial, Vergara v. California, Begins Today

California Students Get Their Day in Court: Groundbreaking Education Equality
                  Trial, Vergara v. California, Begins Today

The Highly Anticipated Trial Will Be Heard in LA Superior Court; Los Angeles
Unified Superintendent John Deasy to Testify

PR Newswire

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 27, 2014

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 27, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --Trial begins today in the highly
anticipated education equality lawsuit, Vergara v. California. The
groundbreaking lawsuit, filed in May 2012 on behalf of nine public school
students from across California, is being heard in the Superior Court of Los
Angeles County. The presiding judge is the Hon. Rolf Michael Treu.


Opening statements, which will preview evidence that will be presented at
trial, is scheduled to begin Monday morning. Plaintiffs' opening statement
will be delivered by their lead co-counsel Theodore J. Boutrous of Gibson,
Dunn and Crutcher, and will be made available to media in real-time.
Immediately following opening statements, Plaintiffs will call their first
witness. Witnesses expected to testify within the first three days of trial
include Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy,
renowned Harvard economist Nadarajan "Raj" Chetty, and the Director of Labor
Strategy at Oakland Unified School District, Troy Christmas.

An online real-time live stream of the daily proceedings in Vergara v.
California will be made available at no cost to credentialed members of the
media through Courtroom View Network. The trial is expected to last several

"I'm excited to finally have this chance to stand up for what is right and to
speak out on this issue that has such an effect on students like me every
day," said Plaintiff Beatriz Vergara, who, along with her sister Elizabeth and
seven other schoolchildren from five California school districts, is
challenging five statutes in the State's education code that threaten the
educational opportunities of all California students. "Since I was little, my
mom told me that a good education is the foundation of a good life. With this
case, I want to help make the system better so that all students—no matter
where they come from or what challenges they face—have an opportunity to truly
learn and succeed."

The California Supreme Court has long recognized that equal opportunity to
access quality education is a fundamental right guaranteed by the California
Constitution. However, five specific laws in the California Education Code
create a system that forces administrators to push passionate, inspiring
teachers out of the school system and keep extremely ineffective teachers in
front of students year after year. These laws, which violate California
children's fundamental, constitutional right to equality of education,

  o"Last-In, First-Out" Layoff Statute: The "Last-in, First-out" or "LIFO"
    law forces schools to make layoff decisions based solely on seniority,
    with no consideration for teachers' impact on students. Through this law,
    schools are getting rid of passionate, motivating newer teachers every
    year, and keeping ineffective teachers instead, just because they have
  oPermanent Employment Statute: The permanent employment or "tenure" law
    forces administrators to grant permanent employment to teachers after only
    18 months—before new teachers even complete their induction programs and
    before administrators are able to assess whether a teacher will be
    effective long-term.
  oDismissal Statutes: The dismissal laws go far beyond teachers'
    constitutional due process rights. The process for dismissing a single
    ineffective permanent teacher requires years of documentation, costs
    hundreds of thousands of dollars, and still rarely results in dismissal.
    In the past 10 years in the entire state of California, only 91 teachers
    have been dismissed, and the vast majority of those dismissals were for
    egregious conduct. Only 19 dismissals were based, in whole or in part, on
    unsatisfactory performance.

"The needs of students should always come first. Every student deserves a
quality education, which begins and ends with an inspiring, passionate, and
most of all effective teacher," said Plaintiffs' lead co-counsel Boutrous. "We
have a responsibility to ensure that the fundamental right to a quality
education guaranteed by the California Constitution is protected for every
student in every neighborhood and every community."

Over the course of the trial, Plaintiffs will demonstrate that the challenged
statutes significantly harm students by violating their constitutional right
toequality ofeducation.

"Equality in education isn't a privilege limited to the wealthy few. It's a
right that must be protected for everyone," added Marcellus McRae, also
serving as lead co-counsel for Plaintiffs. "We have amassed mountains of
evidence showing just how harmful these laws are to students. Today,
Plaintiffs will have the opportunity to begin bringing all that evidence to

The Defendants in the lawsuit include the State of California, the State
Department of Education, and the State Superintendent. In May 2013, the
state's two largest teachers unions, the California Teachers Association and
the California Federation of Teachers, joined the case as Intervenors seeking
to defend the challenged statutes. Since the case was filed, Intervenors have
made arguments outside the courtroom that fail to address the merits of the
case and seek to distract from the lawsuit's premise of protecting and
ensuring a quality education for all California students. An overview of
Intervenors misleading arguments, and a direct response from Students Matter,
the sole sponsor of Vergara v. California, can be found on the Students Matter

"Every student deserves an effective education—and that means an effective
teacher," said David F. Welch, founder of Students Matter. "We have a
responsibility, whether or not we have children in school, to ensure that
state law guarantees that right to every student in our state regardless of
zip code. Good teachers should be protected and students must come

In addition to Boutrous and McRae, Plaintiffs in Vergara are represented by
former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson, who together with Boutrous
recently argued Hollingsworth v. Perry in front of the U.S. Supreme Court,
successfully invalidating California's ban on same sex marriage, Proposition

Students Matter, a national non-profit organization dedicated to sponsoring
impact litigation to promote access to quality public education, is the sole
sponsor of Vergara v. California. Students Matter's Advisory Board consists
of innovators, education advocates, and child advocates, including Russlynn
Ali, Chair, Emerson Education Fund; Ben Austin, Executive Director, Parent
Revolution; Maria Casillas, Former President, Families in Schools; Dave Welch,
Founder of Students Matter and President, Infinera, Inc.  Learn more at

SOURCE Students Matter

Contact: Manny Rivera, or (626) 864-7467
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