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Report: Minneapolis teachers union contract structures layoffs by race

(The Center Square) – A Minneapolis Public Schools’ contract with a teachers union says that white teachers will be laid off or reassigned outside of seniority order before “educators of color” if Minneapolis Public Schools needs to reduce staff.

The clause was part of the deal struck by the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and MPS on March 25 to end a 14-day teacher strike affecting 29,000 students.

Alpha News reported the story and a partial screenshot of a contract.

“Past discrimination by the District disproportionately impacted the hiring of underrepresented teachers in the District, as compared to the relevant labor market and the community, and resulted in a lack of diversity of teachers,” the agreement says.

The clause aims to ensure a diverse teaching population and positions in specific programs that are hard to fill and require special certifications like speaking multiple languages.

“Teachers working in the following programs may be exempted from district-wide layoffs outside of seniority order to remedy the continuing effects of past discrimination, ensure continuity of instruction to students at these sites based on the difficulty in filling vacancies at these sites with staff who are appropriately licensed, certified, and bi-literate in the appropriate language,” the contract says.

Exemptions include the following programs:

  • Racially isolated schools with the greatest concentration of poverty (a state designation lasting for three years).
  • Montessori schools.
  • Immersion. 
  • Native and Heritage language literacy programs.
  • Grow Your Own, a student-to-teacher pipeline. 
  • Teachers who are members of populations underrepresented among licensed teachers in the district.
  • Alumni of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities programs.

The agreement says that if a non-white teacher is subject to excess, or reducing positions in a school, then MPS must excess a white teacher with the “next least” seniority. 

“Starting with the Spring 2023 Budget Tie-Out Cycle, if excessing a teacher who is a member of a population underrepresented among licensed teachers in the site, the District shall excess the next least senior teacher, who is not a member of an underrepresented population,” the agreement reads.

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