teacher who failed english test may get her job back

In Massachusetts, a former teacher who was fired because she failed state-mandated English fluency tests may get her job back as a result of a decision by the Supreme Judicial Court: SJC backs dismissed Lowell teacher. However, the ruling wasn't based on the validity or legality of the English-speaking requirement:
In a unanimous ruling, the state's high court said an arbitrator did not violate state law when he ruled that the Lowell School Committee had no right to dismiss Phanna Kem Robishaw, a first-grade teacher from Cambodia who failed English-speaking tests while on medical leave.

Srinivas Ramineni, Robishaw's attorney, said in a statement that the ruling indicates that evidence overwhelmingly showed termination was unjustified.

Robishaw was among a few dozen teachers around the state targeted for removal seven years ago as school districts implemented a new law that required some teachers who are nonnative speakers of English to pass English fluency exams. The new requirement was part of a referendum, passed by voters in 2002, that overhauled the way students who lack fluency in English are taught - requiring in most cases that all subjects be taught in English rather than in a student's native language.

In its ruling, the SJC said it was not passing judgment on the validity or legality of the English-speaking requirement, which remains a contentious issue in education. Instead, the SJC believed Middlesex Superior Court Judge Dennis J. Curran overstepped his authority in 2008, when he overturned the arbitrator's decision. Curran, while conducting an independent review of the evidence, concluded that an audiotape of Robishaw speaking proved she was unfit to teach. The arbitrator had given little credence to the tape.

The SJC said that under state law, judges cannot wholly substitute their own conclusions for those made by an arbitrator.
Basically, the Lowell School District failed to establish that the language tests administered to Robishaw were valid, and thus did not meet its burden of proving she wasn't fluent in English. I imagine you're going to see a lot of this same thing happening very soon in Arizona. More here: Court: Lowell Can't Fire Teacher For Failed Tests.

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