News Story

School District May Violate State Law By Removing Teachers Based Strictly On Seniority

Concord Community Schools superintendent and board ignoring teacher effectiveness in layoffs

After failing to get its teachers’ evaluations done in time, one school district’s solution to simply lay off the least-experienced educators may be against the law.

MLive reported that Concord Community Schools Superintendent Terri Mileski and School Board President Brian Philson supported a proposal to lay off the “least senior staff members.” The move was being considered because teacher performance evaluations wouldn’t be completed until May.

“We need to be able to tell the staff what is going on as soon as possible,” Mileski said in the MLive article. “This would allow those who need to find new employment, to do so.”

In 2011, the Michigan Legislature passed collective bargaining reform laws that prohibited districts from laying off teachers based only on seniority rather than how well they do their jobs.

According to state law, school districts cannot use "length of service or tenure status" as "the primary or determining factor in personnel decision when conducting ... the elimination of a position."

Philson, Mileski and Trustee Randy Hicks did not return requests for comment.

Audrey Spalding, education policy director at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said if Concord follows through with layoffs based strictly on seniority, it appears to be illegal.

Spalding said there are plenty of other districts that don’t follow the law when it comes to the 2011 reform laws.

“Sadly, this fits with what we’ve seen,” she said.

Spalding did an analysis earlier this year that found that 60 percent of the state’s 200 largest school districts didn’t remove prohibited contract language that was illegal under the 2011 laws.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.