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A Better Partnership
July 19, 2017

COA: Schools Boards do not have to recall laid off teachers to fill job openings in different subject matter

In Southfield Educ. Ass’n v. Bd. of Educ. of the Southfield Pub. Schools, No. 331087, the Court of Appeals determined that school boards reserve the right not to hire teachers who have been previously laid off and have high evaluation scores if they have not been evaluated for teaching the subject matter the job opening includes. Teachers with high effectiveness evaluation ratings who have been laid off are not obligated to be recalled by school boards for open positions if their evaluations are not for the subject matter of the position being advertised. However, the Court of Appeals has given the school boards the discretion to make such appointments if they deem it proper.
MCL 380.1248 mandates that school boards “adopt, implement, maintain, and comply with a policy prioritizing retention of effective teachers when recalling a teacher after a layoff or hiring a teacher after a layoff.” Thus, the focus of § 1248 is on retaining effective teachers when making personnel decisions. MCL 380.1249 requires all Michigan school districts and intermediate school districts and the board of directors of public school academies to adopt a performance evaluation system. The system would assess a teacher’s effectiveness and performance. Teachers with high effectiveness and performance scores who have been laid off would be highly positioned for recall by the school board should openings arise.
The Court of Appeals settled the issue of whether teachers who were laid off but had a high effectiveness score should be the first in line to be hired for any open teaching position by deciding that the language in § 1248 does not suggest that “a teacher’s effectiveness evaluation in teaching one subject requires that teacher’s recall or rehire to teach a different subject.” The construction of the effectiveness evaluation limits teachers who have been laid off to the subject areas in which they have been evaluated, and does not create an obligation for school districts to recall or hire such teachers for subject areas in which they may have taught, but for which they do not have an effectiveness evaluation rating.

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