November 24, 2009
D.C. Superior Court Denies Challenge to DCPS Reduction-in-Force
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WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia denied the Washington Teachers’ Union’s (WTU) motion for a preliminary injunction directed at the reduction in force implemented by District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) on October 2, 2009. The WTU had sought to compel DCPS to reinstate 266 teachers pending arbitration of a grievance the union has filed under its contract with DCPS.
“The administration is both pleased and gratified by the court’s decision,” said Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. “Today’s decision supports the Chancellor’s authority to strike a balance between fiscal responsibility and doing what is best for District students.”
Judge Judith Bartnoff said that the WTU “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.” She noted DCPS’s evidence that at the time it hired over 900 teachers for the 2009-2010 school year, both those teachers and returning teachers were covered by the budget then in effect, and that the RIF was instituted in response to a subsequent budget cut.
Judge Bartnoff found that reinstatement of the affected teachers “would cause additional disruption to the schools and the students.” She also found that “the public interest does not favor the relief sought” by the WTU. “Given the budget shortfall and the statutory requirements that prohibit the Mayor and the Chancellor from spending money they do not have, reinstatement of the affected WTU members pending arbitration of their grievance would require the District to find some other way to address the gap in the DCPS budget.”
According to Chancellor Michelle Rhee, “This has been a difficult time for the entire school system. We all look forward to maintaining our focus on serving students and renewing a collective effort to improve the quality of education we offer every child across the District.”