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Teachers file federal lawsuit over "teacher merit pay"

Teacher pay
Posted at 11:03 AM, Apr 16, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-16 08:02:57-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- The issue teacher merit pay is now being taken to federal court.

National Educational Association and Florida Education Association announced Tuesday they have filed a lawsuit in federal court in Gainesville. The groups are challenging the state's evaluation of teachers based on standardized test scores and it being linked to teacher pay.

This specific lawsuit is brought on behalf of seven teachers in Alachua, Escambia and Hernando counties. They're suing the Florida commissioner of education, the Florida State Board of Education and school boards for implementing the process of what's been called teacher merit retention.

Florida lawmakers in 2011 passed Senate Bill 736 which links teacher pay with the performance of students on standardized tests. The teachers are arguing this violates the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution because evaluating teachers based on test scores of students they do not teach or subjects they do not teach violates equal protection and due process.

In a release to WTXL from Florida Education Association, these evaluations have high stakes consequences. Teachers who are rated unsatisfactory (the lowest of the four performance ratings under the law) two consecutive years or two out of three years in a row are subject to termination or non-renewal.  Transfers, promotions and layoffs are based on the assigned performance rating.  And, as of July 1, 2014, salaries will be based on the assigned performance rating as well.