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Colorado Judge Dismisses Teacher-Placement Lawsuit

A Denver District Court judge has dismissed a union lawsuit taking aim at a portion of the state's teacher-effectiveness law concerning teacher placement.

The lawsuit, a class action brought by the Denver teachers' union, took aim at the law's "mutual consent" provisions, which allow teachers who have been displaced from their schools to be put on unpaid leave if they can't find a school willing to hire them within a year. It argued that the law  allowed the Denver district to essentially dismiss teachers without a hearing, in violation of their due-process rights and right to continued employment. 

Mutual consent means teachers must interview and be accepted by a hiring team of principals and other teachers at a school, rather than being "force placed" by the central office. Teachers' unions, in general, have fought mutual-consent policies, arguing that more-senior, higher-paid teachers are less likely to find placements.

But District Court Judge Michael Martinez found that Colorado's teacher-tenure law had been previously revised to make clear that teachers are not guaranteed contractual rights to continued employment. And he ruled that a teacher being displaced and put on leave was not the same thing as being dismissed from the district altogether.

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