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L.A. teachers union advised to sue to block potential handover of new schools to charter operators

Attorneys advising the Los Angeles teachers union have recommended filing a lawsuit to block the potential handover of newly constructed campuses to charter schools, The Times has learned.

Fifty new schools are scheduled to open over the next four years, and charter schools could bid to operate them under a resolution passed in August by the Los Angeles Board of Education. The policy, authored by board member Yolie Flores Aguilar, also applies to persistently low-performing existing schools.

Most charter schools are non-union, so an influx of charter schools could weaken United Teachers Los Angeles, the teachers union in the district.

The legal advice is contained in a Sept. 30 memo, obtained through confidential sources, from the Los Angeles-based firm Trygstad, Schwab & Trygstad to union President A.J. Duffy.

The memo lists grounds for litigation, including alleged violations of the state Education Code, of rules regulating taxpayer-funded school-construction dollars and of the collective-bargaining agreement between the union and the school district.

The union contract, for example, stipulates that currently employed district teachers are entitled to teaching jobs at new schools built to relieve overcrowding. In other words, when students leave an overcrowded school for a new campus, their teachers are allowed to follow them. Charter schools, in contrast, typically control their own teacher recruiting and hiring.

The lawyers urged swift action.

“If UTLA wishes to challenge the legality of the resolution,” the memo advised, “litigation should be initiated probably no later than November of this year.…Unless the litigation is pursued early, the court could deny equitable relief on the basis that plaintiffs unreasonably delayed.”

A confidential source with a different employee union confirmed that there have been discussions among district unions about the best time to file suit and about who would take part.

In a Wednesday interview, L.A. schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines acknowledged that there would be issues to work through involving the provisions of union contracts.

Even as the teachers union prepares for litigation, its officials are urging school faculties to participate in the bidding process for the 12 existing schools that Cortines singled out for action this year. Not just charter operators, but internal groups, including teachers, can submit proposals. The affected campuses include Garfield, Lincoln, Jefferson, Gardena and San Pedro high schools.

On this front, however, the union is struggling with internal dissension that could hinder a grass-roots faculty effort. Members of the union’s Board of Directors have, for now, delayed Duffy’s attempt to expand the number of quasi-independent “pilot schools.” The pilot school model is officially a union-sanctioned reform, but the union’s board has raised concerns about approving more than the 10 small pilots already in operation. The pilot model also is well-regarded by L.A. school board President Monica Garcia and Cortines, who said he "felt sorry for Duffy" over the internal union resistance.

A delay could give charter schools an edge, given that “letters of intent” for reform proposals are due by mid-November. 

-- Howard Blume 

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Comments () | Archives (12)

so,It's about kids or about unions?
At least, at Charter school, if teacher do not teach He or She can be fired.

It will not be the Charter Schools that weakened the Union. The union is doing a fine job of weakening itself. It does not have the needs of students as its mission. It does not really do anything to further the profession of teaching. I am a teacher and I feel the union is nothing more than a way of keeping those with undeserved tenure in cushy jobs with ridiculous benefits. Not all teachers are undeserving, but seriously, as educators we should be willing to try anything to make the students successful. Not all Charter schools are created equally, but there have been incredibly successful programs. However, Charter schools as all public schools should be open to all students, they should not be allowed to "select" students. What public education needs is equity for all students, not unions who protect teachers without question. I want to be a respected professional in Education. I will either prove myself or not and I don't expect to keep a job if I am not doing my very best.

Doesn't everybody already know? Only the LAUSD school teachers have a monopoly and the right to destroy school test scores and quality of teaching. Why should they give up their school when such awesome standards and results? Gee whiz.

Good luck with that, teacher's union.

Union first....education of our youth second!!!! The future of our society does not matter compared to the pride and egos of LA's teachers.

YOU'RE FAILING OUR YOUTH!!!!

But instead of up'ing their game or realizing their own inadequacy, they're preparing to take the system down with them.

HEY LA COMMUNITY, I THINK IT'S TIME WE TAKE OUR KIDS OUT OF SCHOOL AND START OUR OWN SYSTEM THROUGH HOME SCHOOL COMMUNITIES. I CAN TEACH HISTORY...WHAT SUBJECT CAN YOU TEACH?

UTLA: United to Tinkle on Los Angeles

I agree with most of the statements, but I ask how can quacks on the school board make decisions that affect millions of kids. Also keep in mind good teachers should get paid good money. Before anyone judges these changes keep in mind behind every great teacher there is a great family, along those lines there should be great benefits granted to the teacher. I dont care what your profession is, if you work hard your family should also be the priority along with your kids. Also please go and see a charter school. I work at a charter school and can tell you it is a joke. Our PE classes need to go to a dug and gang infested park to participate. come on. WHAT A JOKE!!!!

The legality of handing over public schools to non-district providers should be challenged. It is not a union issue, but rather and ed. code and taxpayer issue.

Yeah, in case you hadn't figured out who the crappy teachers were from your kids, just go to back-to-school-night at a LAUSD school and the worst teachers are the ones wearing the Teacher's Union T-shirts. One of my favorites used to smoke pot in her car in the mornings before heading to the classroom. No kidding.

All I can do is laugh out loud at all you who blindly follow the Times' slanted reporting. Yes, please, home school your child. I am sure you will get a better result than what you would get in fully funded public school where teachers' expertise is valued and respected. May you get what you wish for.

Welcome to the new School Bond Bait and Switch:

You thought you voted for bond funds to pay for the upgrades of existing schools and new schools to relieve over-crowding. That was what LAUSD told you on multiple ballot arguments. But now the Villaraigosa-Garcia-Flores BAIT AND SWITCH is in: our taxes are paying for bonds to build Charter School facilities. Please tell me where I voted for that.

The same is true with the Los Angeles Community College District. You thought you were voting to increase your taxes to pay for bonds to construct upgraded and new community college facilities. As the LACCD finishes the $62 million community college satellite campus at the former Van de Kamps Bakery at San Fernando/Fletcher, it yanked the campus out of LA City College and is leasing one building to a charter school supported by Villaraigosa-Garcia-Flores. The historic bakery is being converted from community college classrooms to office space for Work Source unemployment services funded by Villaraigosa's office. These programs should be leasing private sector space. Why is LACCD using our taxes to subsidize leasing of space in unfair competition with private sector office space providers? The voters approved use of their taxes to build a community college facility to meet accredited adult education needs of Northeast Los Angeles. But Mona Field, Sylvia Scott-Hayes, (LACCA Board Trustees) and Antonio Villaraigosa had other ideas.

Where is the LAUSD Inspector General? Where is the District Attorney, Steve Cooley? Where is Attorney General Jerry Brown? Where is City Attorney Carmen Trutanich? This is a robbery before our eyes.

Why can't we make all LAUSD schools, charter schools? This would then weed out all the bad teachers and showcase the good teachers.


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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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