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February 25, 2010

Civil rights group suing LAUSD, state over teacher layoffs

Los Angeles Daily News | By Connie Llanos


A group of civil rights lawyers sued Los Angeles Unified and the state Wednesday, claiming that a combination of budget cuts and teacher layoffs at three low-performing middle schools violated the legal rights of students to a fair and equal education.

While the lawsuit was filed on behalf of just three schools, the case could set a precedent for how teachers are laid off statewide.

The suit claims that last year Gompers Middle School in South Los Angeles, Markham Middle School in Watts and John Liechty Middle School in Pico-Union lost between half and two-thirds of their teachers, creating chaos and instability for the predominantly low-income black and Latino students.

Layoffs hit these schools harder than most due to state laws that require districts to let go of teachers based on seniority during tough budget times. These schools have a disproportionate number of newer teachers, largely due to high turnover often caused by rough working conditions.

As LAUSD gets ready for more budget cuts to close a deficit of about $640 million for 2010-11, the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California as well as the Public Counsel Law Center and the firm of Morrison & Foerster LLP wants to stop any teachers from being fired at these three schools.

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