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A 'disgraceful' challenge of L.A.'s school librarians

May 14, 2011 | 10:30 am

Lausdprotest
With layoffs looming at the L.A. Unified School District as state budget cuts come down the pike, school librarians are coming under fire. Those facing dismissal must prove that in addition to running their school library, they must be able to teach in the classroom -- something all middle school and high school libarians are qualified for, because they hold both teaching and librarian credentials. But a regulation requiring that must have taught in a classroom in the last five years is complicating matters.

LAUSD attorneys have been interviewing librarians about their qualifications in a court-like setting in downtown Los Angeles. Hector Tobar reports:

"When was the last time you taught a course for which your librarian credential was not required?" an LAUSD attorney asked Laura Graff, the librarian at Sun Valley High School, at a court session on Monday.

"I'm not sure what you're asking," Graff said. "I teach all subjects, all day. In the library."

"Do you take attendance?" the attorney insisted. "Do you issue grades?"

I've seen a lot of strange things in two decades as a reporter, but nothing quite as disgraceful and weird as this inquisition the LAUSD is inflicting upon more than 80 school librarians.

Sitting in during two court sessions this week, I felt bad for everyone present, including the LAUSD attorneys....

To get the librarians off the payroll, the district's attorneys need to prove to an administrative law judge that the librarians don't have that recent teaching experience. To try to prove that they do teach, the librarians, in turn, come to their hearings with copies of lesson plans they've prepared and reading groups they've organized.

Read Tobar's full report here, and learn more about California's educators rallying against state budget cuts.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Teachers and their supporters rally in downtown Los Angeles on Friday. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times

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