Progress in Education: Teacher Performance Considered in Layoff Decision

In May, Bridge Magazine reported that Hazel Park High School would be laying off some of its best teachers. The district’s union contract, Bridge said, required that the district follow a “last-in, first-out” policy — meaning that younger teachers would be let go, even if they were some of the school’s best.

This was surprising news, because in 2011 Michigan legislators passed a law to forbid this all-too common practice. Michigan districts must now consider student classroom performance when making personnel decisions.

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation is prepared to represent teachers who have been laid off simply for being new to the district. As a first step, the Mackinac Center filed a Freedom of Information Act request to see whether Hazel Park was, as reported, ignoring the law.

As it turned out, Hazel Park had considered performance when making layoff decisions. The all-too common story of a school firing its newest teachers had been repeated in the press — but had not actually occurred at Hazel Park.

Four years later, it is heartening to see school districts making decisions in the best interest of students by working to keep the best teachers in the classroom.