The State Board of Education Tuesday evening unanimously approved a legal agreement that gives the Colorado Education Association and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association more time to challenge a portion of the state’s educator effectiveness law in court, if the unions choose to do that.

The unions, particularly the DCTA, have been unhappy with part of the landmark Senate Bill 10-191, which created new principal and teacher evaluation systems and also required “mutual consent” — agreement by both the principal and teacher — to place a teacher in a school. (See this EdNews story for background on the mutual consent dispute.)

State law sets a deadline at the end of this month for filing such a suit. By signing the agreement, the State Board and the two unions extended that deadline to Feb. 1, 2014. The other potential defendant in such a suit, the Denver Public Schools, also has agreed to the extension, according to the Department of Education.

Mike Wetzel of CEA said the unions asked for an extension in hopes of avoiding a dispute in court. “It just gives all parties more time to reach a solution” that doesn’t involve a lawsuit, he said. He called a lawsuit “a last resort for us.”