May 13, 2015

Pro Bono Case Aimed at Closing Minnesota's Achievement Gap Receives Media Attention

For the last two years, a pro bono team at Faegre Baker Daniels has been working to help close the education achievement gap in Minnesota, which is consistently ranked among the worst in the nation.

Although education advocates across the state agree well-qualified teachers are a necessary and missing component to closing the achievement gap, the Minnesota Board of Teaching has been denying licenses to out-of-state teachers with proven track records of success.

In early April, the team filed suit against the Board of Teaching on behalf of four highly qualified teachers with years of experience teaching disadvantaged students. The suit alleges the teachers were denied licenses despite satisfying the statutory requirements, and that the Board applies arbitrary and inconsistent standards. The Board of Teaching has since reversed its position with respect to two plaintiffs and issued them limited licenses.

The lawsuit has attracted substantial local media attention, including a featured piece on Fox 9 News on April 13. Litigation attorney Rhyddid Watkins was interviewed and quoted as saying: “What this lawsuit is about is helping well-qualified teachers with a track record of eliminating the achievement gap find their way into a classroom where they belong.”

The pro bono team is led by Rhyddid Watkins, John Mandler, and Anna Frank.

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