A group of parents and education advocates sued the Los Angeles Unified School District last week, demanding that it follow an arcane, 40-year-old law that requires all California school systems to link teacher and principal evaluations to student performance.
The law, known as the Stull Act, was passed in 1971 with bipartisan support, although neither school district officials nor teachers’ unions ever pushed to enforce all its provisions.
Now, with LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy locked in a stalemate with the teachers’ union over performance reviews, a prominent group of advocates is attempting to force the issue.
Although the lawsuit would be technically filed against the district, its underlying target is the union, United Teachers Los Angeles, which has fought efforts to make student test scores any part of evaluations. Union leaders have argued that test scores are too unreliable and narrowly focused to use for high-stakes personnel decisions.
The lawsuit was drafted in consultation with EdVoice, a Sacramento, Calif.-based group whose board includes philanthropist Eli Broad, Netflix founder Reed Hastings, and former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan.
Tracking student progress “is a required element of evaluations, and the union and district cannot bargain it away,” said lawyer Scott Witlin, whose firm prepared the lawsuit.
Nationwide, a growing number of school systems and states have begun to include student data in teacher evaluations. The approach is backed by the Obama administration.
A version of this article appeared in the November 09, 2011 edition of Education Week as L.A. Suit Seeks to Link Evaluations, Student Scores