State Senate passes bill to eliminate teacher seniority

The bill would allow K-12 schools to consider performance factors over seniority when making layoffs.

by John Hageman

The Minnesota Senate passed a bill Monday that would eliminate the “last in, first out” policy that determines which teachers are laid off first at K-12 schools.

The bill now heads to a conference committee before landing on Gov. Mark Dayton’s desk.

Introduced by Rep. Branden Petersen, R-Andover, the bill would give administrators the power to use performance metrics when laying off teachers, thus making seniority less of a factor. The House passed the bill Feb. 16.

Minnesota is one of about a dozen states that make seniority the major factor in layoff decisions.

Proponents say the new system will allow school districts to keep more qualified teachers. But opponents like Tom Dooher, president of teaching union Education Minnesota, criticized the bill and called on Dayton to veto it.

“Instead of tackling the serious issues facing our schools, these bills will make it easier for school administrators to shed experienced teachers for their less-expensive colleagues,” Dooher said in a statement. “These bills also confuse the layoff process with teacher effectiveness. Make no mistake, if there’s a problem with a teacher, there’s no reason for a principal to wait until a budget crisis to act.”

Dayton has not said whether he would veto the bill.