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Appellate court allows teacher layoffs to go forward under new rules

A state appellate court refused Monday to delay a settlement that would alter traditional seniority protections in Los Angeles schools, opting instead to let stand a new process that would protect 45 “vulnerable” campuses entirely from layoffs.

The goal of the settlement is to distribute budget-related layoffs more evenly across the L.A. Unified School District and especially to protect improving schools in low-income, high-minority areas. Traditional seniority rules are based on last-in, first-out policies that hit hard at schools that rely heavily on less-experienced teachers.

The decision by the 2nd Appellate District has immediate ramifications -- looming budget cuts could lead to laying off as many as several thousand teachers in the nation’s second-largest school system.

“We are very glad that the court agreed that children in this district have the fundamental right to an equal, quality education,” said Robert Alaniz, a spokesman for L.A. Unified. 

Though the settlement shields some schools -- and reduces layoffs at others -- it also means that some campuses with veteran staffs could have layoffs for the first time, or more layoffs than under the old rules. And it means that teachers with more seniority could potentially lose jobs before teachers at other campuses with less seniority.

“Kids win,” said Mark Rosenbaum, chief counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, which sued the district along with Morrison & Foerster and the Public Counsel Law Center. With the backing of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, attorneys sued on behalf of students at three middle schools that were especially decimated by layoffs during a previous round of budget cuts.

The settlement was opposed by the local teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles. The union, in turn, had support from a brief filed by the new state superintendent of public instruction, Tom Torlakson.

The backers of the settlement “are coming from a righteous place, but I don’t think they’re looking at the unintended consequences,” said teachers union President A.J. Duffy. “There is the potential for turning well over a hundred schools into a state of turmoil. It is irresponsible for the district to do this.”

Duffy said the union would consider seeking a stay from the state Supreme Court.

Rosenbaum predicted that the union would face an uphill legal challenge.
“It's discretionary,” he said of the high court’s obligation to reconsider a stay of the new layoff process. “And they need four votes to hear the case.” 

-- Howard Blume


Comments () | Archives (18)

How can this happen? Isn't this just taking bargaining rights away from the teachers? Isn't this exactly what the Governor in Wisconsin is doing to the teachers in his state? How can California do this when they have union contracts and no one changed the law? Why aren't the people sitting in the state capitol building and city hall throwing a fit?

No kids don't "win," because green teachers will be saved while experienced veteran teachers will be laid off. The kids won't get an equal education because those 45 schools don't have many veteran teachers and some were reconstituted meaning their best veterans left, leaving them with subs and TFA. Disgusting.

Just wait until popular veteran teachers teaching Advanced Placement classes are laid off in favor of newbies - 50% of whom leave the field in five years on their own. Can't wait to see the reaction of the parents when a top notch AP teacher is laid off in favor of a "social justice" teacher who gives every kid an A.

And a fun time was had by all.......

Thank God I am leaving the profession soon through retirement-- and no, it is not a "cushy" amount. I have taught for 21 years after a previous career with private industry. Now, even though I qualify for Social Security, the amount I am eligible will be reduced by 66%. Because I will only have taught for 22 years, my monthly check will be less than $2000.

Thank God the house is paid off so I will have a roof over my head.

How do the kids win when the most experienced teachers are being laid off??

As a teacher, I know something must be done for these schools....HOWEVER, IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE TEN YEARS AGO OR MORE!! When I worked in Local District 7, the teachers were overwhelmed with issues the school and district administration did not address. They defended and promoted poor principals, the infrastructure was neglected, and innovation was absent. It was neglected for two decades by administration....and now they want to 'protect' these schools in a manner that damages the staff at schools that are succeeding. It's not either or....it has to be BOTH.

Kids don't win any more than before. For those truly seeking to overturn tenure and seniority, this protects teacher jobs by virtue of the schools they're teaching in, not how good a teacher the person is. If you chose or were placed in a school that most teachers probably wouldn't choose, your job is safe.

Meanwhile, teachers in their 7th and 8th year of teaching, who have survived those crucial first 5 years (when somewhere around 1/3 of teachers quit), are likely to lose their jobs. Where is the sense in that?

How can our kids win? What we should be concentrating on is stopping the layoffs and the cuts, and invest more in education. This is how our children would really win.

Finally... common sense is breaking thru...!

This simply allows school administrators to choose which teachers to lay off based on their job performance instead of their seniority.

Teachers! Welcome to the real world!

As a teacher with 15 years of serve , I am glad that these low performing schools will be exempted from the lastest layoffs. These schools need teachers that will begin their careers and commit to the education of the students without having to lose their job to a RIF.

The community and parents has been shut out of the school
system in Watts for the last twenty years that we have two
generations of youth and adults that cannot read or write.

Let me get this straight. If you teach at a failing school in the 'hood, even if you're a lousy teacher, your job is protected. If you're a good teacher who happens to teach in a working class neighborhood at a school that is making progress or, heaven forbid, has a high API ranking, you might get RIF-ed. So, how then can anyone with half a brain claim that kids are "winners" in this situation?

Pure garbage! Inner city teachers stay, regardless of how well they teach? A veteran teacher with ten years experience gets canned. Something is wrong with this picture.
For example, I heard Portola Middle School, in the valley will RIF 38 of their 44 teachers. Destroy a perfect school for an imperfect school. Don't they know it takes a real parent to have an academically enriched child. Not a teacher....

Let's see a list of the 45 "vulnerable" schools. I'd also like to know what makes a school more "vulnerable" than others, and who makes this decision.

First...inform yourself, teachers will not be laid off according to performance only according to where they fall on the seniority list. However, it will not be last hired first fired it will be a certain percentage of teaching positions at each school. Thought there was chaos before. Now instead of turmoil and disruption at a few schools "45" or "100" a relatively small number in LAUSD. Now, virtually EVERY campus will have some layoff and reshuffling and moving around. Just sit back and watch....."what color Shug gonna put on the wall next." A mess.

So David, you are exempted from being RIF'd because you are over the 10 year mark but crow about others getting RIF'd. Seniority is the fairest way to RIF teachers and protects those teachers who actually stay in the field versus the 50% who leave. I taught in an inner city school that was restructured. The teachers who replaced the good veterans are not up to par and there is now a revolving door of sub standard teachers- yet they will be protected.

Please read what the "famed" Superintendent of Chicago and now New Orleans school system said about teacher turnover during an interview for PPS Learning Matters. He doesn't seem to think having a constant influx of new teachers is a bad thing. Also, he's one of the current all star "education reformers" we have now. So, who's right in this debate?

JOHN MERROW: Another criticism, many of Vallas' new teachers have come from
programs like Teach For America, which requires only a two-year commitment. Critics
contend that two years is not long enough to have a lasting impact.
PAUL VALLAS: Turnover doesn't bother me at all. I submit to you that part of the problem
in education is, there is not enough turnover. I'm very comfortable. I'm running a district
where half of my teachers are the university elites and the college elites from programs like
Teach For America, and the other half of my teachers veteran teachers. I think there's a very
healthy balance.


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