ERIC Number: ED232302
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983
Reference Count: N/A
Reduction in Force: A Legal Update.
Beckham, Joseph C.
Courts have been reluctant to interfere with the decision-making authority of local school boards. However, a reduction-in-force (RIF) decision can be legally challenged by a discharged employee with evidence that the school board has either: (1) acted arbitrarily or capriciously, (2) failed to comply with procedural mandates, or (3) utilized reduction in force in bad faith for the denial of the employee's statutory or constitutional rights. Numerous cases in these categories are summarized. The final section on employees' pre- and posttermination rights discusses decisions relating to "bumping" (when a senior or tenured employee replaces a less senior employee) and "call-back rights" (relating to preferred eligibility status to laid-off employees). In decisions on employee bumping, a balancing test, giving deference to school board discretion while offering some protection to the tenured employee, seems to prevail. Courts have granted considerable discretion to school boards in the interpretation of call-back requirements, particularly where the former employee seeks realignment of positions in order to create vacancies. The author concludes that the applicable legal standards governing reduction in force will vary with the legal interpretation to be given state statutes, board policies, and bargaining agreements. However, when state law provides no definitive statement, general principles of law requiring a reasonable basis for board action will be applied to allegations of bad faith or lack of procedural fairness in court review of the adverse employment decision. (MLF)
Descriptors: Board of Education Policy, Court Litigation, Elementary Secondary Education, Employer Employee Relationship, Federal Courts, Personnel Management, Reduction in Force, School Law, State Courts
Not available separately; see EA 016 000.
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Legal/Legislative/Regulatory Materials
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: National Organization on Legal Problems of Education, Topeka, KS.
Note: In its: School Law Update--1982, p60-77, 1983.