Students Come First Laws Upheld In Idaho District Court

Judge Upholds Idaho Students Come First Laws

In a ruling last week, Idaho Judge Timothy Hansen ruled in favor of a series of laws that localized administrative power, phased out teacher tenure and eliminated early retirement bonuses.

The district court decision is in response to a suit filed in April by the Idaho Education Association against parts of the state's Students Come First laws, including restructuring school districts' collective bargaining process.

"We will continue to move forward in implementing the Students Come First reform efforts that have already begun improving public education for all students across Idaho," Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said in a statement Friday.

In addition to shifting power more to localities and moving away from teacher tenure, the Students Come First laws eliminate seniority as a criterion in determining "Reduction in Force" and also offers "Pay for Performance," in which teachers can earn bonuses by working hard-to fill positions, taking on leadership roles or for working in a school that meets student growth targets.

Still, IEA General Counsel Paul Stark says the organization will appeal to the state Supreme Court, Boise State Public Radio reports. A referendum on the laws will appear on the November ballot.

"We recognize this issue and the fate of Students Come First will remain in the courts - including the court of public opinion," Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter said in a statement Friday. "Superintendent Luna and I are confident that Idaho citizens understand what's at stake. What's important today is that these necessary and responsible reforms are continuing to move forward."

Several other states have adopted pieces of legislation similar to portions of Idaho's Students Come First laws. Laws that change collective bargaining rights or the hiring and firing of teachers have passed in Wisconsin, Georgia and Colorado, to name a few.

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