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.
L.A. Unified will change the way it lays off teachers amid budget cuts. That’s the result of a settlement today between the school district and civil rights lawyers.
L.A. Unified agreed to stop teacher layoffs at about 40 of the lowest-performing campuses in the school district — and to set up an incentive program to keep principals and teachers at schools in impoverished neighborhoods.
When the school district does carry out teacher layoffs, lawyers said, the proportion of teachers let go can’t exceed the district-wide average.
Last year, some schools in the Watts area lost about half their teachers to budget layoffs — a much higher proportion than schools in affluent neighborhoods. That sent education at those campuses into a tailspin, attorney Mark Rosenbaum says, because principals hired substitutes to fill in the gaps.
The settlement also establishes an incentive program that encourages principals and teachers to take jobs in working class neighborhoods.
Rosenbaum, of the American Civil Liberties Union, says the settlement stops schools in working class neighborhoods from losing a high proportion of teachers because of seniority-driven layoffs.
"Even more dramatically, this settlement ends, it ends disproportionate teacher layoffs, not only at these schools, the hard to staff schools. But all schools in the Los Angeles district and it does that by mandating that no school can suffer teacher layoffs greater than the district average," Rosenbaum said.
He said the settlement is a victory for working class neighborhoods disproportionately affected by state funding cuts.