Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Mass. Court Backs Teachers Fired Over English Fluency

The reasoning is a procedural one, as opposed to a substantive issue.
A state appeals court in Massachusetts has upheld the reinstatement with full back pay of three teachers who were fired by their school district for "failure to demonstrate fluency in English."

A three-judge panel of the mid-level Massachusetts Court of Appeals on Sept. 25 unanimously upheld decisions by an arbitrator and a state trial court that the Lowell school district had violated the teachers' procedural rights because the teachers could not cross-examine the graders of a standardized oral-proficiency the teachers had failed.

Also, the district failed to follow state guidelines by not relying first on classroom observation of the teachers' English fluency, the court said.

The decision in School Committee of Lowell v. Oung is available at the site of the Massachussetts Reporter of Decisions under Appeals Court opinions.

Two of the teachers had emigrated from Cambodia, and the third was from Puerto Rico. They were terminated in 2003 by the Lowell district, which was seeking to comply with state regulations requiring that it certify annually that all its teachers were literate and fluent in English. The teachers were tenured and had received satisfactory evaluations for several years before their firing, the appeals court said.
Yes, if you are going to be teaching kids in American schools, you should be fluent in the primary langauge of the nation--English. If you are not, you should be fired.

However, it appears that the school district didn't do its duty in following the regulations in dismissing teachers. That such regulations might be a bit byzantine is of course the point for unions.

What is interesting to me is that the school district hadn't been enforcing the fluency/literacy rules. In that case, them blowing the procedural rules is not unexpected.

No comments: