Settlement changes teacher layoffs

By: Albert Sabate

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A new agreement by the Los Angeles Board of Education and the American Civil Liberties Union changes the usual practice of laying off the most recently hired teachers first. Now, some teachers will retain their jobs over teachers who have been teaching longer. Some teachers say this is especially important for South Los Angeles.

Teacher:: “I think in any other school community, a policy that continually lays off more than half of the teachers at one school site, year after year, and places substitute after substitute in front of the students, would be an outrage, and it would be deemed criminal. Today, this settlement says to us that this policy will no longer be tolerated by the schools of South Central Los Angeles.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, and others, filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Unified School District in February. The lawsuit accuses the Los Angeles Unified School District of denying students equal access to public education.

Mark Rosenbaum from American Civil Liberties Union:

Rosenbaum: “The American dream must be open and accessible to all children. Poverty and race shall not disadvantage any child.”

Until now, layoffs have been based on seniority. More often than not, new instructors teach at poor or low-achieving schools. But because these teachers are at the bottom of the totem-pole, they are the first to go. That means that those schools lose a larger proportion of their teachers.

Speaker:: “At all costs, we must retain and support those teachers who are making the most differences in the lives of our students.”

Plaintiffs found a loophole in the education code that said seniority could be used in determining layoffs, but only if it does not interfere with the students’ education.

Here is Kenneth Aubrey, a teacher at Gompers Middle School:

Aubrey: “Why should I be punished, and other teachers be punished, for making a social decision to go where they are most needed, where they can be the most effective?”

The unanimously approved settlement would spare 45 struggling schools from layoffs. Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villraigosa says these reforms were just a start.

Villaraigosa: “This isn’t just about fixing the dance of the lemons. It’s about cutting down the trees. The system where decisions are based solely on seniority has created a system of inequality. And a system where decisions are made to protect the adults has only served to hurt the children.”

The settlement still has to be approved by a judge, but is widely expected to be approved.

VIDEO BLOG: Empty chairs for empty teaching positions

To protest the 6,300 pink slips sent out to LAUSD teachers on March 15th, UTLA members set out empty chairs in front of the district headquarters. Each chair displayed a pink slip representing a teacher or student services professional.

Provided by Santee Education Complex teacher and social activist Jose Lara (below)





LAUSD Board of Education approves layoffs for 4,700 employees

The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education voted Tuesday afternoon to approve sending thousands of layoff notices to teachers and staff. Board members blamed cutbacks in state spending for the layoffs, which they said were unfortunate but necessary. Even though 4,700 employees will receive layoff notices, some workers may be able to keep their jobs. LAUSD is required to notify employees that may lose their job, and in the past the district has been able to rescind notices after additional funds become available. Ariel Edwards-Levy filed this report for Annenberg Radio News, click below to listen.