Judge gives laid off Chicago teachers second chance

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UPDATE: The Chicago Tribune is reporting Tuesday night that CPS CEO Ron Huberman said the district will appeal the judge’s decision.

A federal ruled Monday that CPS wrongly dismissed hundreds of teachers in
a bid to rid the district of poorly performing educators. But CPS and
the Chicago Teachers Union disagree on whether the ruling means that the
teachers must be hired back. UPDATE: The Chicago Tribune is reporting Tuesday night that CPS CEO Ron Huberman said the district will appeal the judge’s decision. 

A federal ruled today that CPS wrongly dismissed hundreds of teachers in a bid to rid the district of poorly performing educators. But CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union disagree on whether the ruling means that the teachers must be hired back.

Over the summer, the district laid off about 749 teachers, according to CPS. CEO Ron Huberman made headlines in June when he introduced a resolution to lay off teachers with poor evaluations first, without regard to tenure or seniority. The district never provided a count of how many poor performers were ultimately among those laid off.

CTU president Karen Lewis said at a press conference Monday night the judge found the district’s actions illegal and that the teachers must be recalled. 


“Kids will have their teachers back,” she said. She said that hundreds of teachers will return to classrooms and class sizes will be lowered.

But CPS General Counsel Pat Rocks says the judge actually called the practice of letting go the worst teachers first “sensible.” Rocks says the ruling demands that the district and union agree on a procedure to allow tenured teachers to compete for existing vacancies. 

“This is not about what happened before the layoff, but what happens afterward,” Rocks said.  

In the ruling, United States District Judge David H. Coar calls on district to “rescind the discharges of tenured teachers.” The district then has 30 days to negotiate with the union a set of recall rules.

The judge also told the district that they can’t issue “honorable discharges” to teachers in the future.   

CPS officials issued a statement on Monday saying they are looking into whether they will appeal the decision. The statement said that the majority of the tenured teachers—56 percent—have already found new jobs within the district.

In June, Huberman confronted the issue of tenure and seniority saying that when he introduced the resolution that allowed him to lay off teachers. He said he wanted to be able to first fire those teachers who were under remediation and had negative evaluations. In court, the union held that most of the tenured teachers who were laid off were rated “excellent,” “superior,” or “satisfactory.”

“Chicago Public Schools should stop slurring our teachers, suggesting that those fired somehow were less than exemplary teachers.   The court appears to agree – tenure is necessary to academic freedom,” said Lewis in a statement.