In Partnership with 74

New settlement reached on lawsuit challenging teacher layoffs

Yana Gracile | April 8, 2014

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Reed v. State of CA

A new settlement has been reached in a lawsuit challenging budget-base layoffs, marking a major breakthrough in a long-fought case.

The settlement, aimed at addressing inequities at low-performing schools, will provide a huge boost in resources to 37 schools that have long struggled with high teacher turnover, student drop-out rates and low student achievement. The LAUSD school board will consider approving the agreement at a meeting on April 22, after which it goes before a state Superior Court for final approval.

Originally seen as a challenge to teacher seniority, Reed vs. California was filed in 2009 by the ACLU on behalf of students at three low-income schools against the state and the LA Unified school district, alleging that widespread seniority-based layoffs enacted during the budget crisis of 2008 – 2009 disproportionately affected low income and minority students, depriving them of equal access to a quality education.

In 2011, the court issued a ruling in the case, protecting 45 low-income schools from   budget-based layoffs, a direct challenge to the existing practice of basing teacher layoffs solely on seniority. That ruling was overturned on appeal and later remanded back to state court.

Under the terms of the new agreement, the result of a long negotiation between LAUSD, the Los Angeles Teachers Union (UTLA), the Administrators Association and a group of LAUSD schools that operate through the non-profit, Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, a host of new resources will be allocated to 37 affected schools. though the underlying practice of seniority is not challenged.

“The youth in greatest peril at these schools will benefit tremendously.” Superintendent John Deasy said. “These are invaluable investments, aligned with the goals of the Local Control Funding Formula, which will make a difference in transforming these schools and bring justice to our youth.”

Each school will receive new mentor teachers, another administrator, additional counselors or social workers, additional assistant principals, support positions for special education students, support for special training at each of the schools, incentives for leadership stability, and more planning time for new teachers.

An attorney for UTLA, Jesus E. Quinonez counted it as a victory, saying that, “any attempts to extinguish the rights of teachers—here, the right to a neutral and fair hearing process—will not serve the needs of kids or lead to justice in our schools.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs told LA School Report that this additional support will provide resources and help establish a more stable school environment to help prevent teacher turnover and stop high student drop out rates.

They said these additional resources will work in conjunction with existing seniority regulations to give teachers more training and other benefits that will better protect new teachers from any future budget-based layoffs.

“Our mission is about equity,” said Joan Sullivan, CEO of the Partnership schools.   “Today, thanks to ongoing collaboration, we have all parties coming together around   a landmark settlement that promises to bring students across Los Angeles closer to the educational opportunity they deserve.”

A list of the schools affected by the settlement is here.

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