The Los Angeles Unified School District and attorneys representing students and parents at three Los Angeles schools announced Tuesday they have reached a proposed settlement of a lawsuit accusing the district of unfairly impacting schools in low-income areas when it lays off teachers.
Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and the Public Counsel Law Center filed the lawsuit in February 2010, claiming that policies governing teacher layoffs led to large numbers of dismissal notices being issued to teachers at Samuel Gompers, John Liechty and Edwin Markham middle schools -- while lower percentages of teachers with more seniority at other campuses received notices.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Highberger issued an injunction in May 2010 blocking layoffs at the three schools. The sides originally reached a settlement agreement that was approved by Highberger in January 2011, but officials with United Teachers Los Angeles -- the union that represents LAUSD teachers -- appealed, saying it wasn't involved in the discussions and contending the pact would result in students being deprived of experienced teachers.
A state appeals court agreed in 2012, and nixed the settlement.
Under the new proposed settlement announced today, the district will provide administrative and teacher support at 37 schools with historically high teacher teacher turnover and student drop-out rates, attorneys said. Lawyers for the ACLU and Public Counsel said that support will amount to about $25 million, including the hiring of assistant principals, counselors and special- education support staff, along with the expansion of development programs for teachers and administrators.
Mark Rosenbaum, chief counsel for the ACLU of Southern California, said the settlement will ensure that students' quality of education is not decided by their ZIP code.
"The settlement reached (Tuesday), the product of months of collaborative efforts by all stakeholders, cements this principle into place for students at 37 schools by ensuring that these children, their teachers and administrators receive the support they need to obtain and deliver a first-class education," he said. "Its provisions are a model for implementation at disadvantaged schools everywhere."
The LAUSD board of education is scheduled to consider the proposed settlement at its April 22 meeting. The settlement also needs court approval.
"The youth in greatest peril at these schools will benefit tremendously from the additional administrative and teacher support provided under this program," LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy said. "These are invaluable investments, aligned with the goals of the Local Control Funding Formula, which will make a difference in transforming these schools and bring justice to our youth."
—City News Service