The nearly 388 DCPS employees fired in early October will not be rehired anytime soon.
Today, Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff denied a request from the Washington Teachers’ Union to reinstate the fired employees, including 266 WTU members, pending the outcome of a lawsuit.
The employees were laid off by DCPS as part of a “reduction in force” necessitated by budget pressures; WTU claimed that the budget pressures were a ruse that were forced by DCPS overhiring teachers earlier in the year.
Bartnoff found the union’s argument lacking on several fronts.
For one: The current teachers contract, she found, “provides no basis for any challenge to the merits of a [reduction in force], the procedures used in conducting a RIF, or the validity of a RIF as applied to any particular employee.”
Bartnoff writes that she “recognizes that questions could be raised about particular RIF decisions, in terms of the position that was eliminated, the individual whose employment was terminated, or both.” But bad individual firing decisions “do not establish that the RIF was a pretext for a mass discharge.” Individual employees who were wronged are free to take their case to the city’s Office of Employee Appeals.
Bartnoff, examining the merits of the WTU’s case, handed the union what amounts to a legal death blow, “finding that the plaintiff has shown virtually no likelihood of success on the merits of its claim that the RIF was not really a RIF and instead should be considered a mass discharge.”
“At most, the plaintiff showed that a large number of teachers were hired in the spring and summer of 2009, which DCPS does not dispute,” Bartnoff writes. “But the plaintiff presented no evidence to refute the evidence presented by DCPS that its budget included those new teachers at the time they were hired, as well as the returning teachers, that DCPS was planning for the new school year based on the budget that was passed in early June and its budget agreement with the Council Chairman, and that the RIF was instituted in response to the $21 million budget reduction enacted by the City Council on July 31.”