LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Thursday held his first press conference since leaving office to speak out against teacher seniority rules.

Villaraigosa joined plaintiffs in Vergara v. California and attorney Marcellus McRae outside the Los Angeles Superior Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown LA, where advocacy group Students Matter filed the lawsuit on behalf of nine public school students against the state alleging that its policies allow poorly performing teachers to stay on the job.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs contend that California’s teacher tenure seniority and dismissal policies violate the Constitution’s equal protection clause by blocking all students from having access to quality education.

During the trial, attorneys will be presenting evidence of what they claim is “substantial harm” done by California’s permanent employment, dismissal, and seniority-based layoff laws to students.

Villaraigosa said the policies also have a direct impact on students’ personal lives.

“I’m here to support these families because these families and these kids do matter,” he said in a statement quoted by Students Matter on Twitter.

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, who has sought to change LAUSD policy after the district was hit with several teacher molestation lawsuits, was among one of the first witnesses to testify earlier this week.

The trial was expected to last through March.


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