A federal appeals court has ruled that a 2012 Indiana law curtailing the rights of tenured teachers during layoffs violates their rights under the contracts clause of the U.S. Constitution.
A three-judge panel unanimously upheld a lower court’s decision in favor of Joseph R. Elliott, an elementary teacher with 14 years of tenure in the Madison Consolidated Schools, who was laid off that same year. In doing so, the district cited some negative comments about Elliott in evaluations going back as far as 2002, even though he had just received a positive evaluation. The district retained six nontenured teachers in positions that Elliott was licensed to teach.
In its Dec. 4 decision, the court said that under a 1927 state law and until the 2012 change, “Indiana teachers ... benefited from enforceable contractual rights when they became tenured,” including job-security in a layoff. The panel did not rule out the possibility that tenure could be restricted for new teachers.
A version of this article appeared in the December 13, 2017 edition of Education Week as Appeals Court Backs Tenured Teacher Over Indiana Law Involving Layoffs