Saturday, January 10, 2015


By Thomas Himes, Los Angeles Daily News |

Posted: 01/09/15, 2:15 PM PST [Updated:  1/10/2015, 5 PM]  ::  California’s Public Employment Review Board tentatively ordered Los Angeles Unified School District to repeal a key element of an evaluation system that could tie teacher pay to the performance of students.

The evaluation system was championed by former Superintendent John Deasy and reform advocates as a means to hold teachers accountable.

But because LAUSD instituted an “observation” portion of the evaluation system without consent from its 35,000-member teachers union, it violates state law, according to the preliminary ruling from Administrative Law Judge Eric Cu.

“Restoration of the status quo is the normal remedy for a unilateral change in working conditions or terms of employment without permitting bargaining members’ exclusive representative an opportunity to meet and confer over the decision and its effects,” according to the ruling.

The order also requires LAUSD to repay any teachers who lost money as a result of the new observation and evaluation system at a rate of 7 percent interest per year. The system was instituted in March 2013.

While the Christmas Eve ruling has yet to be listed in the state agency’s database, it was reported first by this news organization Friday.

The ruling came in response to a 2013 complaint filed by UTLA in California’s quasi-judicial authority for labor disputes. UTLA claimed LAUSD deprived teachers a chance to negotiate the new evaluation system by unilaterally imposing it. District officials have previously denied the claim.

LAUSD formulated the new evaluation system based on recommendations from a task force. In 2010 the task force, consisting of reform advocates, district administrators and union leaders, issued a report criticizing the previous evaluation system as more “tied more to discipline than performance growth,” according to the Teacher Effectiveness Task Force’s “Final Report” issued April 13, 2010.

The resulting evaluation system, however, has been decried by teachers union leaders as unfair because it ties pay to performance, which in part is judged by student achievement — something that can be affected by factors outside the classroom in a school district that educates students living in widely varied circumstances.

In a Nov. 18 memorandum to board members, district administrators write that union leaders were told the new rating of “highly effective” would not be used to decide pay.

The discussion came up in contract talks between district negotiators and teachers union leaders who remain divided on central issues such as pay raises and class-size reductions. An LAUSD bargaining effort to form a committee that would revamp the evaluation system was rejected last year by teachers union leaders, who continue to plan and stage protests in preparation for a strike.

Board member Bennett Kayser welcomed the ruling as an opportunity for LAUSD’s new superintendent, Ramon Cortines, to renegotiate an evaluation system with union leaders.

“I believe Superintendent Cortines will help us to find more inclusive, equitable and fair evaluation processes for district employees,” Kayser stated. “LAUSD’s test scores have been on the rise for the last 10 years and not because of punitive evaluations of teachers.”

The district has until Feb. 22 to appeal the ruling. Should LAUSD appeal, it would allow for continued use of the evaluation while the appeal is decided by the full review board.

The district’s top attorney, General Counsel Dave Holmquist, stated, the district “is continuing to consider its options. Should LAUSD lose an appeal, it could further contest the issues in state courts.”

Holmquist also pointed out that certain aspects of the system withstood UTLA’s challenge, including the district’s addition of positions designed to mentor teachers.


Labor board rules against LAUSD for teacher evaluations

by Vanessa Romo | LA School Report |

teacher_evaluation_satisfactoryPosted on January 9, 2015 3:11 pm [* UPDATED]  ::  LA Unified violated state employment laws by imposing an evaluation system on members of its teacher union, UTLA, a state agency said in a tentative ruling made public today.

If the ruling made on Christmas Eve by the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) stands, the district would have to stop the evaluation process, which was implemented in 2013 under former Superintendent John Deasy. The district would also be ordered to compensate UTLA members for any financial losses incurred as a direct result of the evaluation system, which was based on a four-level observation rating system.

UTLA, which filed the complaint in June 2013, said in a statement it is “gratified” for the board ruling. The district has until Feb. 22 to appeal, but the union said it “is confident that if there is an appeal, the full PERB board will affirm the administrative law judge’s decision that the District acted unlawfully.”

David Holmquist, the district’s chief legal counsel, declined to comment on the preliminary ruling, saying he has not had an opportunity to discuss the ruling with the school board.

“I’m not ready to say what we think it means,” Holmquist told LA School Report in a phone call. “There’s a lot that we need to figure out,” he added.

The board will review the findings and plan a potential response at its board meeting next week.

“Once I bring it up to the board we will decide what responses we want to make to that,” Holmquist said. Some possibilities he mentioned are filing an extension of time to continue litigation or firing off a list of objections to the preliminary ruling.

In the meantime, Holmquist confirmed the district is “in conversation with UTLA.”

Since the district implemented a four-level evaluation, UTLA has objected, arguing that the union’s 30,000 members never had a chance to vote on it. They also allege it creates a path to establish merit pay to reward the highest performing teachers. Another element they oppose, is the use of student testing data in judging teacher efficacy.

Teacher evaluations have been part of the contract negotiations between the district and the union that have generated little progress so far. The sides are scheduled to resume talks a week from today.

*Adds comment from UTLA.

Judge: Stop Grading Teachers on Student Scores

A tentative ruling issued Dec. 24 found that the district had imposed the new system without the approval of United Teachers Los Angeles.

By Mirna Alfonso (Patch Staff)  Eagle Rock Patch/City News Service |

Judge: Stop Grading Teachers on Student Scores

January 9, 2015 at 8:01pm   ::  The union representing Los Angeles Unified School District teachers Friday hailed a tentative ruling by a state administrative law judge that the district should stop using a teacher-evaluation system that relies in part on students’ standardized test scores.

The judge for the state Public Employment Relations Board, in a tentative ruling issued Dec. 24, found that the district had imposed the new system without the approval of United Teachers Los Angeles, the teachers’ union.

“PERB ordered the district to cease and desist from continued use of the four-level observation tool that was unilaterally implemented without reaching an agreement in bargaining with UTLA,” according to a statement from the union. “This illegal action was taken under direction of former Superintendent John Deasy.”

The union noted that the district has until Feb. 22 to appeal the ruling, but both sides are negotiating in hopes of reaching an agreement on an evaluation system.

LAUSD general counsel David Holmquist stressed that the decision was only tentative, and said the judge found in favor of the district on some issues, and the union on others. He said the tentative decision “only took issue with respect to the four-level assessment -- i.e., highly effective, effective, developing and ineffective -- given to teachers after a formal classroom observation.”

“The remainder of the evaluation system remains intact even if the proposed decision ultimately were adopted and became final,” Holmquist said.

He said if either side files a “Statement of Exception” to the decision, it would trigger a review by the full PERB, with a final decision subject to court challenge.

The teachers’ union objected to the revamped evaluation system’s inclusion of student test scores as a performance measure, arguing that scores can be impacted by factors outside the classroom.

UTLA Wins Ruling on Teacher Evaluation System


January 9, 2015  ::  UTLA issued the following statement regarding a ruling by a PERB administrative law judge on teacher evaluations…

UTLA is gratified that the Public Employment Relations Board has ruled that LAUSD made illegal changes to the teacher evaluation system. PERB ordered the District to cease and desist from continued use of the four-level observation tool that was unilaterally implemented without reaching an agreement in bargaining with UTLA.  This illegal action was taken under direction of former Superintendent John Deasy.

PERB also ordered the District to cease and desist from:

  • unilaterally implementing policies within the scope of representation
  • interfering with employees’ right to be represented by their union
  • interfering with the right of UTLA to represent its members in negotiations

PERB also ruled that the District must compensate employees for any financial losses incurred by the implementation of the four-level observation rating system.

The District has until February 22nd to appeal the ruling.  Both sides are in negotiations on a new agreement on evaluations.  If the District appeals, it can continue using the four-level system pending the outcome of that appeal.

UTLA is confident that if there is an appeal, the full PERB board will affirm the administrative law judge’s decision that the District acted unlawfully.


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