Updated: 3:34 p.m. | Posted: 12:48 p.m.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Tuesday affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging teacher tenure.
Lead plaintiff Tiffini Forslund and other Minnesota parents sued the state and several school districts last year claiming that Minnesota statutes protect ineffective teachers and contribute to the state's achievement gap between white students and students of color.
The plaintiffs challenged requirements that teachers be laid off in order of seniority when the district and the local union have not negotiated an alternate plan. They also challenged steps schools are required to follow before they can fire tenured teachers.
The suit was dismissed by Ramsey County District Court in October. The appeals court judge affirmed that decision saying the complaint is an issue for the Legislature, not the courts.
Appellate Judge Tracy Smith wrote that the plaintiffs did not identify a standard for "what quality of teaching is constitutionally required," and that setting that standard is not the court's responsibility.
State and teacher union officials praised the decision.
"Our state's rigorous laws protect due process for teachers," Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said in a statement. "When followed, these laws provide school administrators and school boards with the authority to remove teachers."
"These due process laws permit [teachers] to speak out for what their students will need this year," said Denise Specht, president of the Education Minnesota union, which was not a party to the suit.
Jesse Stewart, the attorney who represented the plaintiffs, called the decision "disappointing" and said plaintiffs may take the case to the Minnesota Supreme Court. "That will be something that we're discussing in the upcoming days and weeks," he said.
Since the lawsuit was originally filed several parts of the laws in question have changed.
A bill passed last session requires districts to negotiate local procedures for laying off teachers and removes the default that seniority be used in case of no local agreement.
The bill did not modify the process for granting tenure or firing tenured teachers.