Vergara vs. California, brought by nine parents and backed by Students Matter, an advocacy group in Menlo Park, Calif., challenges the system of tenure and seniority, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.
Thomas J. Kane, a professor at Harvard, testifying for the plaintiffs, said he found teachers ranked in the bottom 5 percent taught 3.8 percent of white students and 5.2 percent of Latinos. He said 38.5 percent of white students had a teacher ranked in the bottom 50 percent, while 48.6 percent of blacks and 52.2 percent of Latinos did.
The lawsuit seeks to overturn Los Angeles' practice of granting tenure to teachers after 18 months on the job and layoffs being done in order of seniority.
The parents also want a speedier process for firing teachers who are ineffective.
The state, the California Federation of Teachers and the California Teachers Association are defending the current system.
Kane said the current system hurts minority students because "rather than assign them more effective teachers to help close the gap with white students they're assigned less effective teachers, which results in the gap being slightly wider in the following year."