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Monday, January 24, 2011

Los Angeles public schools teachers lose layoff tenure rights after judge ruling

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Tenured teachers in Los Angeles
Unified School District lose 'last
hired, first laid off rights'.
Superior Court Judge William Highberger of California, ruled on January 21st a sweeping overhaul of how teachers are laid off. 

Education reformers, like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) hail as a landmark decision to keep more effective instructors in the classroom. Teacher unions were quick to denounce the decision as a step toward dismantling tenure policies.
"The court today handed these children an umbrella in a hurricane," said Mark Rosenbaum, legal director for of the ACLU of LA, which brought the suit on behalf of students.
The ruling was the outcome of a lawsuit brought by ACLU in February, charging that inner-city students' right to a quality education was being violated by a last-hired, first-fired layoff policy. The policy is normally included inside of K-12 educational instructors’ union contract agreements.
"This is a historic decision for the state of California," stated John Deasy, deputy superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). "The court stood and lifted up the voice of youth. That voice was loud and clear."
In the legal settlement between the ACLU, the state and LAUSD, the district agreed to safeguard 45 of its lowest performing schools from layoffs, to ensure that the employees deployed by those layoffs will not be sent to a school that will experience greater than the district average of layoffs for that year.

The United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLS) quickly announced that they will appeal the ruling; citing its’ unfair to pass on layoffs to teachers who have earned their jobs and skills, said Vice President Julie Washington.
"What it is really saying is that experience in teaching has no value," she said. "We feel that this remedy, if allowed to go through, will actually exacerbate the problem."
The union was supported by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who filed a brief opposing the settlement on Friday noting it "could have far reaching, unintended consequences throughout the state."

The agreement could harm the instruction quality at the 45 schools because it maintains inexperienced teachers there instead of seeking ways to bring more experienced "arguably more effective teachers," said Torlakson, who was elected last year with the endorsement of the statewide union California Teachers Association.

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