ACLU sues LAUSD to stop teacher layoffs

ACLU of Southern California lead counsel Mark Rosenbaum at Markham Middle School in Watts. He announced a lawsuit to stop L.A. Unified teacher layoffs that have disproportionately affected, the suit alleges, schools in low income neighborhoods. File photo.
ACLU of Southern California lead counsel Mark Rosenbaum at Markham Middle School in Watts. He announced a lawsuit to stop L.A. Unified teacher layoffs that have disproportionately affected, the suit alleges, schools in low income neighborhoods. File photo. Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

A suit filed today against the Los Angeles Unified School District could change the way the district carries out budget cuts this year.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and two law firms filed the class action lawsuit. It asks a superior court judge to stop L.A. Unified from addressing its budget deficit by laying off teachers. The school district dismissed some teachers with low seniority this year. The suit claims that decimated the teacher corps at schools in poorer neighborhoods.

The ACLU’s Mark Rosenbaum said the suit intends to protect these students’ guarantee under the California constitution to receive a basic public education.

"We don’t accept the premise that teachers here or teachers anywhere need to be laid off. The last place that you make cuts is the constitutional rights of these kids," Rosenbaum said.

One supporter of the lawsuit said the court filing could compel state lawmakers to reform layoff rules that would allow school districts to weigh other factors.

L.A. Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines wouldn’t comment on the suit. He said he welcomed the attention it directs to the limits and difficulties of school districts’ budget decisions.

The suit targets LAUSD for carrying out budget cuts last year that the lawyers allege disproportionately affected Gompers, Liechty and Markham middle schools.

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