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School District No. 1 In City And County of Denver v. Masters

Supreme Court of Colorado, En Banc

March 12, 2018

School District No. 1 in the City and County of Denver; and Valentina Flores, Debora Scheffel, Pam Mazanec, Steve Durham, Jane Goff, Joyce Rankin, and Angelika Schroeder, in their official capacities as members of the Colorado State Board of Education, Petitioners
v.
Cynthia Masters, Michelle Montoya, Mildred Anne Kolquist, Lawrence Garcia, Paula Scena, Jane Harmon, Lynne Rerucha, and Denver Classroom Teachers Association. Respondents

         Certiorari to the Colorado Court of Appeals of Appeals Case No. 14CA1348

          Attorneys for Petitioner School District No. 1 in the City and County of Denver: Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP Eric V. Hall Tamara F. Goodlette Stacy Kourlis Guillon Denver, Colorado.

          Attorneys for Petitioners Valentina Flores, Debora Scheffel, Pam Mazanec, Steve Durham, Jane Goff, Joyce Rankin, and Angelika Schroeder: Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General Frederick R. Yarger, Solicitor General Julie C. Tolleson, First Assistant Attorney General Antony B. Dyl, Senior Assistant Attorney General and Assistant Solicitor General Davin Dahl, Assistant Attorney General Denver, Colorado.

          Attorneys for Respondents: Colorado Education Association Kris Gomez Denver, Colorado.

          McNamara Roseman & Shechter LLP Todd McNamara Mathew S. Shechter Denver, Colorado.

          National Education Association Alice O'Brien Philip A. Hostak Washington, District of Columbia.

          Attorneys for Amicus Curiae Colorado Association of School Boards: Colorado Association of School Boards Kady D. Lanoha Denver, Colorado.

          Attorneys for Amici Curiae The Colorado Children's Campaign, Education Reform Now, and Ready Colorado: Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP Brent Owen E. Rayner Mangum Denver, Colorado.

          Attorneys for Amicus Curiae Colorado Succeeds: Holland & Hart LLP Stephen G. Masciocchi Jason A. Crow Jessica J. Smith Denver, Colorado.

          Attorneys for Amici Curiae Former Colorado Governors Bill Ritter, Jr., and Bill Owens: Foster Graham Milstein & Calisher, LLP Chip G. Schoneberger Denver, Colorado.

          Attorneys for Amicus Curiae Independence Institute: Kittredge LLC Daniel D. Domenico Denver, Colorado.

          Attorneys for Amici Curiae Senators Michael Johnston, Owen Hill, Kevin Grantham, Vickie Marble, and Laura Woods; Former Senator John Morse; Representatives Paul Lundeen and Daniel Nordberg; and Former Representatives Terrance Carroll and Christine Scanlan: MRDLaw Michael L. Francisco Denver, Colorado.

          OPINION [*]

          BOATRIGHT JUSTICE.

         ¶1 Teachers who work for Denver Public Schools ("DPS"), together with the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (collectively, "the teachers"), filed this suit, alleging that DPS invoked Senate Bill 10-191-which under certain circumstances allows a school district to place a nonprobationary teacher on unpaid leave-to remove hundreds of teachers from their positions in violation of both due process of law and the contracts clause of the Colorado Constitution. School District No. 1 and members of the Colorado Board of Education (collectively, "the District") moved to dismiss the suit, and the trial court granted that motion. A division of the court of appeals reversed, relying on our decisions interpreting predecessor statutes to the relevant, now-codified law-the Teacher Employment, Compensation, and Dismissal Act of 1990 ("TECDA")-and concluding due process violations occurred under those predecessor statutes. Masters v. Sch. Dist. No. 1, 2015 COA 159, ¶¶ 38, 40, ___ P.3d ___.

         ¶2 We granted certiorari[1] and now reverse. We hold that TECDA did not create a contractual relationship or vest nonprobationary teachers who are placed on unpaid leave with a property interest in salary and benefits.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         ¶3 The Teacher Employment, Dismissal, and Tenure Act of 1967 ("TEDTA"), ch. 435, sec. 1, §§ 123-18-1 to -18, 1967 Colo. Sess. Laws 976, provided that a teacher who maintained continuous employment in the same school district for three academic years became tenured upon being retained for a fourth academic year. § 22-63-112(1), C.R.S. (1988).[2] It defined a "tenure teacher" as "any teacher who has acquired tenure status in a school district pursuant to law." § 22-63-102(11), C.R.S. (1988). Under TEDTA, a tenured teacher was "entitled to a position of employment as a teacher" under certain circumstances. § 22-63-115(1), C.R.S. (1988). ...


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