Judge stops layoffs at 3 LA schools

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday the L.A. Unified School District cannot lay off teachers at three campuses hit harder than others by layoffs last year.

The preliminary injunction was requested in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union three months ago. Lawyers argued in that lawsuit that seniority-based layoffs decimated the teacher corps at Gompers, Markham and Leichty middle schools and the quality of learning suffered so much that students weren’t receiving a basic education, as guaranteed by the California constitution.

Those schools are run by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s non-profit Partnership for L.A. Schools. Marshall Tuck, the group’s CEO, welcomes the judge’s ruling. He said the school district shouldn’t balance its budget on the backs of poor students.

"When we have to make those tough decisions, our high poverty students at low-performing schools cannot be neglected and they can’t be the ones that get the short end of the stick. And frankly over time, when hard decisions have happened they’ve gotten the short end of the stick because there’s no strong advocates for them. And these are the children that need the help the most," Tuck said.

A trial on the merits of the lawsuit, Tuck said, will move forward. Los Angeles Unified and the State of California are the defendants. In a statement, L.A. Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines welcomed the ruling and said state lawmakers should change seniority rules as the overriding factor when school districts lay teachers off. Teachers' union leaders have defended seniority protections. The California Teachers Association and United Teachers Los Angeles were not available for comment on the ruling.

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