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LAUSD Teacher Layoffs Leads to Lawsuit From ACLU

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Photo by ne* via Flickr

Photo by ne* via Flickr
Just one day after the Los Angeles Unified School District voted in favor of the plan to give control of struggling schools to non-profits, a lawsuit filed against the LAUSD by the ACLU is focused on layoffs at three schools--two of which are operated by Mayor Villaraigosa's non-profit "Partnership" program.

In a suit filed today in Superior Court, the ACLU asserts that massive layoffs at Gompers, Liechty, and Markham "have deprived thousands of low-income students and students of color of the legal right to an education consistent with prevailing statewide standards," according to a press release.

Budget cuts approved by the state and the School Board gave the green light for the layoffs of numerous permanent teachers. "At Liechty, fully 72 percent of the teachers received layoff notices; at Markham, the layoffs included almost the entire English department along with every 8th grade history teacher," notes the ACLU.

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"Citing state law, school districts typically dismiss teachers on the basis of seniority during budgetary shortfalls," explains LA Now. However, the ACLU's suit--which names the state and the LAUSD as defendants--claims that the firings were disproportionate, and are turning back the clock to a time when lower-income students of color have fewer opportunities for success in education.

"Every student knows that you don’t reform a school by removing great teachers. If government can bail out the bankers of Wall Street, then it can bail out the children of Watts and Pico-Union,” said Mark Rosenbaum, chief counsel forthe ACLU/SC. But what the suit is demanding seems nearly impossible in light of what lay ahead for the LAUSD, according to LA Now:

Students at Gompers, Markham and Liechty do not have equal access to a quality education as students on other campuses, according to the suit, which also asks that no teachers be fired at the three middle school this year. L.A. Unified is facing a $640-million budget deficit, and officials have warned that teachers could be laid off. The district also has proposed furlough days and shortening the school year to close the gap.

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