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May 13, 2010

L.A. Unified barred from budgetary teacher layoffs at three schools

Los Angeles Times | By Jason Song

 

The Los Angeles Unified school district cannot for budgetary reasons lay off teachers at three of the city's worst-performing middle schools, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday.

Several civil rights groups filed a class-action lawsuit in February against L.A. Unified and the state on behalf of students at Samuel Gompers, Edwin Markham and John H. Liechty. The complaint alleged that students were denied their legal right to an education because of the high number of budget-related layoffs at the schools.

Between half and three-quarters of the teachers on those campuses were laid off last year, leading to a shortage of permanent and qualified instructors, while schools in more affluent areas had far fewer dismissals, the suit alleged.

Citing state law, school districts dismiss teachers on the basis of seniority during budgetary shortfalls, but the suit alleged that the district can legally "skip" instructors' years of experience to ensure equal student access to education.

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