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Hearings continue in lawsuit against L.A. Unified

May 11, 2010 |  5:43 pm

A hearing in a civil lawsuit aimed at preventing the school district from laying off more teachers at three of the city's worst-performing middle schools was held Tuesday and is expected to continue Wednesday afternoon.

The suit, filed on behalf of students at Samuel Gompers, Edwin Markham and John H. Liechty middle schools, contends that the pupils were denied their legal rights to an education because of chaotic conditions caused by layoffs.

The lawsuit was filed in February by the American Civil Liberties Union, Morrison & Foerster and Public Counsel against the L.A. Unified School District and the state of California. Between half and three-quarters of the teachers at those schools were laid off last year.

Citing California law, L.A. Unified lays off instructors according to seniority like virtually every other school district in the state.

The district has laid off thousands of teachers over the last several years because of budget shortfalls and expects to issue more pink slips this year.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, whose nonprofit Partnership for Los Angeles Schools operates Gompers and Markham, voiced his support for the lawsuit outside of court.

"The layoffs make a difficult situation worse," he said at a news conference.

-- Jason Song