April 10 | Dropout Nation

By RiShawn Biddle

Back in October and November, Dropout Nation reported on the lawsuit filed by a group of Southern California families organized by activist Alice Callaghan (with backing from the school reform group EdVoice) against the Los Angeles Unified School District, charging that the district had continually violated its obligations under the state's Stull Act to adequately evaluate teachers and demanding the district to reform its teacher evaluation system. In the months since then, L.A. Unified has struck a deal with the American Federation of Teachers' local that would allow traditional district schools to operate similarly to charter schools, with autonomy from district policies and the ability to use student test score data in evaluations.

This deal, largely driven by the union regaining control of L.A. Unified's board, came in exchange for essentially ending the effort to expand school choice and embrace the Hollywood Model of Education undertaken by current Superintendent John Deasy's predecessor, Ramon Cortines. But the deal did not satisfy the Callaghan families' demands (or even Deasy's own push for overhauling teacher evaluations).

Which is why the families filed a Writ of Mandate petition last week in California superior court demanding that L.A. Unified immediately comply with the Stull Act -- including making specific recommendations to teachers on their performance. Basing its argument off of information it gleaned from Deasy during a deposition, the Callaghan parents argue that the district has systematically evaded its obligation to evaluate teachers using student performance data -- or to conduct proper evaluations altogether -- under California's Stull Act, which governs how L.A. Unified and other districts are supposed to handle teacher evaluations and performance management.

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