Education Law

Boies and Olson are challenging teacher tenure as a student civil-rights issue


The lawyers who joined to fight California’s ban on gay marriage are united on another issue: the civil-rights implications of teacher tenure.

Ted Olson was among the lawyers who challenged teacher tenure laws in California. In a June ruling, a judge found the tenure laws violate students’ right to equal protection under the state constitution. The plaintiffs in Vergara v. California had argued the tenure laws keep ineffective teachers on the job, and these teachers are disproportionately assigned to poor and minority schools.

Now David Boies will become chairman of a group that challenged New York’s teacher tenure laws in a suit filed last month, the New York Times reports. The group is Partnership for Educational Justice. Boies is working pro bono, as is the lawyer who filed the New York case, Jay Lefkowitz.

The liberal Boies is the son of schoolteachers, the Times says. He told the newspaper that tenure reform is a “pro-teacher” issue.

Boies and Olson succeeded in a challenge to a California referendum banning gay marriage when the Supreme Court ruled that supporters of the ban didn’t have standing to appeal an decision adverse to their ideological interests.

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