CHICAGO (CN) – More than 700 laid-off tenured teachers cannot force Chicago public schools to adopt a formal rehiring procedure, the 7th Circuit ruled, adopting the recommendation of the Illinois Supreme Court.
Facing budget deficits in June 2003, the Chicago Board of Education “honorably discharged” 1,289 teachers. With increased federal funding, the board recalled 715 in 2010. Laid-off teachers who were not rehired complained that the schools filled vacancies with new hires instead of laid-off tenured teachers because the board did not have a formal recall procedure.
The Chicago Teachers Union and American Federation of Teachers filed suit, asserting the teachers’ alleged property interest in their jobs. A federal judge eventually granted a permanent injunction, requiring the board to create a recall procedure, and a split panel of the 7th Circuit affirmed the decision in April.
But the panel later vacated its decision in favor of a rehearing by the full court. The judges certified three questions to the Illinois Supreme Court, noting that state courts have not had the opportunity to weigh in on the case because of the federal injunction.
On Feb. 17, the Illinois Supreme Court “concluded that neither [section cited by the unions] of the School Code, considered separately or together, gives laid-off teachers either a substantive right to be rehired after and economic layoff or a right to certain procedures during the rehiring process.”
The 7th Circuit applied this ruling Friday, writing that its original judgment in favor of the union “must be vacated in light of the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision.”
It also refused to let the union amend its complaint, saying the issue must be decided at the trial-court level.
Chicago Public Schools praised the court’s resolution of the case.
“This ruling preserves the fundamental principles of legislation giving principals authority to make staffing decisions based solely on the best interests of their students and their schools,” the district said in a statement.