A D.C. Superior Court judge has ruled against a bid by the Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) to roll back the Oct. 2 layoffs of 266 DCPS teachers and staff.
In an opinion issued late Tuesday morning, Judge Judith Bartnoff said WTU had failed to prove any of its core arguments against Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee's decision to conduct a RIF (reduction in force) due to a $43.9 million budget shortfall. She said that given the District's financial situation, a reversal of the layoffs would force Rhee and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty to make other cuts in the DCPS, harming the public interest.
"The District asserts, and the plaintiff has not disputed, that in that event, other staff would be subject to a RIF--even further into the school year--or programs that have been deemed essential would have to be cut," Bartnoff wrote. "Such an action would not benefit DCPS, its teachers, students or staff, or the wider District of Columbia community."
No word yet on whether WTU plans to appeal.
The union argued that the RIF was not a budget-driven layoff but an illegal mass firing, and that the shortfall cited by Rhee was a sham and a pretext for dumping older teachers. As a mass firing, WTU contended, the action was subject to arbitration under the District's collective bargaining agreement with the WTU.
The union charged that Rhee, in essence, went on an illegal hiring spree over the spring and summer, bringing more 900 new teachers on board knowing that she would need to make cuts later.
But Bartnoff said the union failed to provide any substantive evidence that DCPS packed the system with teachers it could not pay for until the D.C. Council cut its 2010 budget by $21 million on July 31. In contrast, she singled out Rhee's chief of staff, Lisa Ruda, as "a very credible witness" in her testimony on DCPS' budget problems after the council cut.