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L.A. schools chief stands by controversial deal to use laid-off teachers as subs [Updated]

The Los Angeles schools superintendent says he opposes revoking an agreement that has imperiled health benefits for more than 1,000 veteran substitute teachers while costing hundreds of them regular work.

In an interview, Supt. Ramon C. Cortines said he stands by a deal that was designed to help recently laid-off full-time teachers by giving them preference for available substitute jobs over veteran subs with more seniority.

“This was about how could you re-employ, in some form, as many of the teachers as possible that had received pink slips,” Cortines said in the interview Wednesday. "I had said months earlier I would do everything possible to employ them. The teachers union wanted me to hire them all back, and I could not guarantee that we had the money to do that. This was the second best I could do.”

On July 1, in the midst of a budget crisis, the Los Angeles Unified School District laid off about 2,000 teachers, but then quickly signed up about 1,800 of them who wanted to work as substitutes. On average, the L.A. district, the nation’s second-largest, uses about 2,200 substitutes a day. Substitutes have to work 100 days a year and at least one day a month to maintain health benefits.

Cortines objected to characterizations that he’d entered into a secret deal with A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, the district’s teachers union. He noted that plans to use laid-off teachers as substitutes were discussed publicly.

But the decision to override seniority did not emerge for two months, when the district provided a copy of the one-year agreement in response to a request from The Times. In addition, the union did not include representatives of the substitutes in the negotiations -- a violation of internal union rules.

Last week, under pressure from rank-and-file members, the union’s governing body voted overwhelmingly to withdraw from the agreement. Duffy said he would try to honor the decision by resuming negotiations with the school district.

Cortines said he had yet to hear from Duffy over the matter. He added that he was not inclined to change operating procedures nearly four months into the school year, which began for some schools in July. He also said union members were unfairly singling out Duffy for blame. He said Duffy’s leadership team was fully involved in the negotiations that led to the agreement.

[Updated at 5:50 p.m.:  Union officials have forwarded to The Times a copy of a letter they said they sent to Cortines on Wednesday requesting the reopening of negotiations over the use of substitute teachers.]

Elected leaders of the substitutes vowed to accelerate their activism on the issue.

“We have to create a sea change in the attitude of the [school] board members who dictate policy to the superintendent,” Dave Peters said in an e-mail to fellow substitutes. Duffy “executed this without lawful authority and his scandalous behavior in this matter calls for his immediate impeachment.”

Duffy has apologized for failing to follow internal union policy, but said he has done nothing improper.

-- Howard Blume

Comments () | Archives (14)

Duffy winds up with egg on his face while Cortines comes off as the level-headed one. Let's not forget that Duffy thought it was effective strategy to have teachers march around Cortines' house in the midst of negotiations. Ridiculous! He's just clutching at straws, rather than truly engaging in effective strategies. It makes sense for the laid off teachers to have priority, but Duffy should have been more open about the process and what he was doing. Now he says he wanted the teachers to stay on at their old schools as subs. Well, that's not how it works. If there are no positions, how can they stay on?

A.J.Duffy's mission is the opposite of educating Children hence LAUSD still leads in achievement of a 37 1/2% Drop out rate which has existed for over 20 years. The example of the policy that achieves this result:
(a) No Teacher receives a annual Report Card on Performance no matter how much or how little they show up.
(b) LAUSD Teachers have life time benefits and if you think
that is ludicrious, look at the aricle for Substitute Teachers only have to work ONE DAY A MONTH to continue benefits as a substitute. The Layoff was dictated by a lack of Budget Funds to cover yet, they pay a teacher and a substitute. What kind of business uses 7.5% substitutes on a daily basis.
(c) No Teacher can be fired in a reasonable process as most of the 150 teachers are currently sitting at desks collecting pay for in excess of 12 months due to the inability of the District to overcome the UNION Objections.
(d) A teacher pays $700.00 Dues and a Retiree pays $300.00 and what does the Union use these funds besides affect out come of elections to the School Board or Statewide Office who support Featherbeddin.

Check it out and verify for yourself.

Sanford Gordon

I'm a full time sub who got displaced by the layed off teachers. I am mad that after 10years of serving LA's children by giving the "real teachers" a day for meetings, stress relief, etc., I get kicked to the curb. And I'm double mad at UTLA for not standing up for dues paying members. Maybe we don't pay as much in union dues as the people who got layed off, but we are still members. When Duffy called on teachers to not work the first hour of a school day last year the subs honored the picket lines. And he lets Cortines displace us? Maybe the they should have fired the whole sub pool, at least then we could get unemployment.

No upstart, fresh out of college, deserves to take the job of a veteran employee. Duffy is an idiot. Cortines is too, but he's with LAUSD so that's to be expected... And I'll tell you another thing. A teaching credential is a glorified piece of paper which does nothing to help one teach children. It is merely a bureaucratic hoop to jump through. All anyone needs to teach through high school level is common sense, patience, and literacy.

The Superintendent changes the subject in order to avoid the ugly truth. Veteran substitute teachers had their seniority ripped away in a SECRET memorandum. No one was present to negotiate. There were no negotiations for substitute teachers. This makes that agreement at the very least unethical if not illegal. Not only was substitute calling seniority taken away, but schools were also told to request layed off teachers rather than their preferred subs. This left subs with nothing. Superintendent Cortines needs to admit the truth. If something has to be done in SECRET it's probably the wrong thing to do. LAUSD and UTLA have a contract. It was NOT abided by.

Mister h, I guess you couldn't get your "glorified piece of paper."

I am a RIF'd teacher. I lost my job one day before I was to gain tenure. I feel sorry for full time subs, but I do have seniority over you. I have my credential and am more highly qualified than those that do not have their credential. You "veteran" subs had time to become full time teacher but chose not too. Now you reap what you sowed.

Mr. Jones, you and I are two mangy dogs scrapping over the same bone. Such is the contention that UTLA has created. ( And no, I never tried to get my glorified paper )

Something is rotten in the sate of LAUSD. Subs got screwed twice. We only get jobs two ways, by our seniority on the call list and by special request. The special request is what made this job great (at least for me) because it was a total meritocracy. If you were great at subbing, you'd get called all the time. I cannot count the number of times I was praised for how good I was at teaching (which, by the way, all good subs do, all day, every day). It is a particular challenge, subbing. It's not harder than regular teaching, just different, different skill set. And it's pretty damn important that you have talented people doing it because a given student will spend about a fifth of their life being taught by subs.

We had seen the writing on the wall all year last year. No one could have watched the drama unfold and not imagine that trouble was brewing for them as well, but as late as June 2009 we were assured that rif'ed teachers would not be given sub list priority. The reason we are getting it twice is because all last year the schools discussed openly how they would only special request their own rif'ed teachers to be sure to keep them employed. Then at the end of the summer they got seniority too.
So come September subs got no automated calls and no special requests. That means we were FIRED. Or thrown under the bus to say the least. I know without question that i will loose my health insurance. The school year is ten months long. To get 100 days you need to work 10 days a month.(Math!) A tall order in this climate anyway, but we have already missed Sept and October. Also you can't get plentiful work in December or June. So now we have 6 full months to get 100 days. It will not happen even if they reverse the shady ruling.
The reason this is so particularly shady, is they (LAUSD) continue to send us letters implying that everything is fine, opening with "Hello Substitutes, i hope you are ready for a new year and able to work with us again...." etc etc.

I guess that's just politics, but it's rotten. In a state of Denmark kind of way.

The seniority system is screwed. By giving the regular teachers first shot at an assignment, one is assuming they're all good. There are many bad regular teachers. I am a credentialed substitute hoping to someday land a regular position. I have met many outstanding non credentialed substitute teachers. They are TRUE professionals. It is unfortunate that the best teachers are not the regular ones. One just needs to look at their appearance. They would not cut it in the private sector or business world. Not professionals. The concept of performance or merit has gone down the toilet. I feel sad for America.

It makes sense that a RIF'd teachers have priority to sub. Especially the ones that have completed their credential. It is not to say that I don't care about regular subs. It is so sad that the LAUSD has turned us against each other. It is hard to put yourself in someone else's shoes. Subs are saying that they will not get their 100 days in if RIF'd teachers get priority, but don't think that we won't get 100 days in either. How is it fair that we didn't have enough seniority to keep a classroom position, and now we don't have enough seniority to sub?

A credential might be "just" a piece of paper to some but it is what allows you to have your own classroom: plan for all subjects, grade 20 + students, have parent conferences after regular hours, make sure you have an inviting classroom, put up bulletin boards in the hall way, engage students at ALL times, attend weekly staff and Professional Development meetings, go to OCR, Math, FOSS, and ELD training, AND have adjunct duties at the school which takes up your own personal time. And still, make sure your plan book is detailed so that a sub can follow it.
Not to say that subbing is EASY, but it sure is a lot less work than being a credentialed teacher.
I feel for those subs who have a preliminary and have had to sub because they couldn't get a position to clear their credential. But those who don't have one and chose to be subs should have no say because they had more than enough time to attain a clear credential and if they didn't its because they don't want to do all the work a credentialed/"real" teacher does.

Here is what gets to me: Regular subs that are good, are requested by schools. How many RIF'd teachers have been to most of the schools in their local district before they were demoted to subs?? Not many. Therefore, not many of them will be requested by schools other than their former school. Subs on the other hand have that advantage and will get jobs even if subfinder doesn't call them. We RIF'd teachers that worked at small schools will not get enough calls from that school. That's why it makes sense to at least have Subfinder call us first.

I understand that the subs are upset. There are not to many jobs that give you health benefits for only working 100 days out of 365. I am a RIF'ed teacher with a masters and a clear credential. My student loans of 25,000 are on differment because I was RIF'ed. My un-employment does not even cover my rent. I had my own classroom for two years and I was a sub before that, while I was going to school. I had to quit working in order to student teach for 4 months with no pay, not to mention all of the tests and classes. I had to clear my credential while working at least 55 hours a week to keep my classroom up to my standards and aid my students in learning and differentiating teaching. In my two years of teaching I only used 8 sick days. I used the sub finder and had two different subs that fell asleep and texted all day. I have not been called from the subfinder since November and have been working about 8 to 10 days a month. This is after working full time in a multitrack school and teaching intersession during off track time. I feel sorry for all who are going through this. The senority should be to the people with full credentials first.

I can't believe that subs for LAUSD still do not understand the pecking order here. Subs are called when a permanent classroom teacher needs coverage for a day. A sub may or may not have a credential, may or may not have classroom background/experience, and may or may not have subject background/experience. The important difference between the permanent contract teacher and the substitute teacher is....contract. If the permanent teacher is laid off, they will be hired back, as a sub or permanent, prior to or above a regular sub on the sub list. Permanent, contract hires "trump" a substitute teacher any way you look at it. Substitute teachers get to pick and choose their schedules while either waiting to get hired, building up their retirement, or just choosing not to work permanently. I know the routine...I did it for 2 years in a different district.
Another thing.... what other school district pays health benefits to their subs?? What?? No wonder LAUSD is in such a financial disaster and looking to fire new teachers! Pathetic...

Subs, regular teachers, all of us. The problem is the mayor and his charter forces have taken the school board. How about if some ticked off teachers run for the school board? Stop the hand away of our schools, and that will stop the hand away of our jobs. "Less than 10,000 votes will decide a school board seat." Remember that. We can do that. Take back the school board.

I was laid off as a full time employee of a school district that asked me to sub the next school year. I did so while collecting unemployment then I worked two eight hour days in one week and unemployment cut me off. Now the state says I am a substitute, I do not get paid anything during any of the breaks including fall, spring and summer and I then asked to be taken off the sub list cause I went for months with only working one or two days a month and they now say I quit my job....DO NOT sub for a school if you are a laid off employee. The state of CA will not pay you unemployment so stay home and collect your full time unemployment checks.


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