- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 1, 2016

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - A group of parents from New Jersey’s largest school district have sued the state over a law that forces districts to layoff teachers based on seniority rather than performance.

The Newark parents filed their lawsuit Tuesday with the backing of a national education reform group.

The state law forbids districts from considering any factors other than seniority when laying off teachers due to budget cuts. The suit claims that violates students’ right to a “thorough and efficient” education, making it unconstitutional.

The parents group also seeks an injunction against “last-in-first-out” layoffs in Newark and similar school districts.

“We know that quality matters,” Kent Yalowitz, an attorney representing the parents, told NJ.com. “To say you have to ignore quality in favor of seniority is totally irrational.”

The suit follows similar complaints filed in Minnesota and New York. All three were organized by Partnership for Educational Justice, a New York-based education reform group founded by former CNN anchor Campbell Brown.

The state’s largest teachers union, the New Jersey Education Association, dismissed the lawsuit.

“This is an out-of-state group coming into New Jersey to try to impose its political agenda,” NJEA spokesman Steve Baker said. “Without these kinds of protections, politicians could interfere in decisions about who is allowed to keep their job, and that would be a disaster for New Jersey public schools.”

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