Vergara v. California
Nine California public school students brought suit against the State of California, seeking to overturn as unconstitutional state laws that disproportionally negatively affect poor and minority public school students. The challenged statutes relate to rules regarding teacher tenure, teacher dismissal, and seniority-based layoffs. Experts and witnesses on both sides testified about the role of teacher effectiveness in the classroom, and the effect of poor-performing teachers on students and schools. Testifying for the Plaintiffs, Harvard professor and leading public policy expert Raj Chetty argued that teacher effectiveness is quantifiable, as are the direct effects on student outcomes. This landmark case was heard over an eight-week period amid heavy state and national media attention due to the potential far-reaching implications of the case.
The Focal Point’s Role
The Focal Point participated in numerous Mental Mining sessions, brainstorming with counsel to develop the various themes presented at trial. As the case trial graphics consultant, The Focal Point worked closely with the legal team to provide visual strategy and consultation, both leading up to and throughout the duration of the trial. This included producing the opening and closing visual presentations as well as demonstrative graphics in support of six key expert witnesses. The Focal Point’s Trial Presentation Department provided in-court support every day of trial, arming the trial team with the technology they needed to present their case over dozens of witnesses.
In a closely watched verdict, Judge Treu handed down a complete Plaintiff victory, citing “compelling” evidence for the specific effect of grossly ineffective teachers on students. “Indeed, it shocks the conscience,” Judge Treu writes in his decision, concluding that it is the legislature’s mandated duty to provide “each child in this state with a basically equal opportunity to achieve a quality education.”
Los Angeles Superior Court
Honorable Rolf Treu
The Focal Point’s Clients