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Lawsuit Filed Over Language Used In Teacher Tenure Ballot Initiative

A group of educators is suing the state of Missouri overa proposed constitutional amendmentrequiring tenure for public school teachers be based on performance, not seniority.

In a press release issued Friday, the four plaintiffs in the suit say school districts would be allowed to fire or cut the pay of teachers and administrators without cause or due process, and that the ballot language should be rewritten to reflect that.  They also say the initiative will be more expensive than its backers have estimated, costing K-12 schools millions of dollars. 

Kate Casas is with theChildren’s Education Council of Missouri, which supports the initiative.  She says the current teacher tenure system is broken, and that the ballot initiative will address that problem.

"It offers a research-based solution in making sure teachers are evaluated on objective, rather than subjective, information," Casas said.  "It allows school districts to make decisions based on that more objective information."

Casas says the ballot initiative will also do away with the "last in, first out" policy of laying off promising young teachers simply because they’re newer.

The proposed constitutional amendment is also backed by St. Louis billionaire Rex Sinquefield.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in Cole County Circuit Court.  Secretary of State Jason Kander and State Auditor Tom Schweich are named as co-respondents. A hearing date has not yet been set.

Marshall Griffin is the Statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.
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