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Chicago Public School Teachers' Victory Short Lived

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on June 17, 2011 4:17 PM

Earlier this week, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a prior opinion in an employment lawsuit involving Board of Education of the City of Chicago and the alleged improper firing of nearly 750 teachers from Chicago public schools.

The case was previously ruled on by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, but the Board had requested that the case be retried, claiming that the court had erred with regards to its application of Illinois law.

Due to budgetary issues, the Board of Education laid off 1,300 teachers before the start of the 2010-2011 school year. The Seventh Circuit had ruled, in March, that the fired teachers should be given a meaningful opportunity to demonstrate their qualifications for new vacancies. After the layoff of over 1,300 teachers, the Board then re-hired more than 1,300 novice teachers.

The original opinion, issued in March 2011, wrote that 750 of the laid off teachers had a valid property right in the position due to the fact that they were tenured teachers. The Board of Education claimed that due to the fact that it had claimed an "economic emergency," it did not have to honor the tenure of the teachers nor did it have to rehire them.

The Board of Education made its request for a rehearing in April and earlier this week, the request was granted by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeal will hinge on issues of interpretation of state law, namely, what the rights are of tenured teachers in an "economic emergency" layoff and whether in such circumstances, the tenured teachers are entitled to certain procedures during rehiring. The Seventh Circuit will rely on the advice of the Illinois Supreme Court on these issues, reports The Chicago Tribune.

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