AEA objects to legislation removing seniority protection - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

AEA objects to legislation removing seniority protection

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Bills currently in legislation would make districts look at other factors besides seniority in determining layoffs. (Source: MGN Online) Bills currently in legislation would make districts look at other factors besides seniority in determining layoffs. (Source: MGN Online)
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

Alabama Education Association leaders said House and Senate legislation designed to eliminate seniority from being a top factor during teacher layoffs is wrong.

The bills would make districts look at other factors before considering how long an educator has taught if a district faces a financial crisis and must reduce staff. An AEA leader said this is a play by some Republican state legislators that have no idea how the education system works.

AEA spokesperson Rex Cheatham said the Alabama State Board of Education, not legislators, should make these types of decisions. Cheatham said most legislators have no background in teaching or education and don't understand how the system works.

Proponents of the legislation said it does away with the "last in, first out" policy when districts face financial hardship. In that policy, the most recently-hired educators are the first to be cut in layoffs - even if a district believes they're better than educators with more seniority. Cheatham said seniority needs to be considered no matter what kind of financial issues districts run into.

"Could you imagine if the legislature told the doctors this is how you're going to govern your profession? If they told the lawyers this is how you're going to govern your profession? Another thing that is very bad about this bill is it takes away local control," Cheatham said.

Alabama State School Board member Mary Scott Hunter said it is the responsibility of the local school system to set their own policies and procedures. "This is one of those instances where the legislature is reaching down into the business of 134 local school systems," she said.

Madison City Schools' Dr. Dee Fowler said he's for every district having their own policies, especially when dealing with personnel matters. The superintendent said any policy needs to stay focused on what's best for a child. Seniority is one of several variables the Madison City system uses when evaluating their teachers.

"There are experiences that can't be duplicated, but that shouldn't be the only criteria used to determine who one hires or who one keeps in a reduction of staff," he said.

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