As of February 2012, Colorado law requires that all district policies and teacher contracts consider performance before seniority when making reduction-in-force (RIF) decisions.
However, the Education Policy Center’s recent review of contracts in the 38 Colorado school districts known to maintain formal relationships with their local teachers unions found that that 16 districts are operating under negotiated agreements or policies that unlawfully rely upon seniority-based reduction-in-force procedures.
Often called “last-in-first-out” LIFO provisions, seniority-based RIF procedures automatically determine which teachers will lose their jobs in layoff situations by how long a teacher has served in the classroom, often without regard to the actual effectiveness of that teacher. In some cases, more senior teachers slated for layoff can take the positions of less senior teachers—even when those less senior teachers are more effective.
This report details the requirements of Colorado’s Senate Bill 191, categorizes the state’s unionized districts by compliance with legal RIF requirements, and provides a model contract article for districts wishing to bring their agreements or policies into alignment with Colorado law.