LAUSD teachers union challenges layoffs

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Teachers unions are challenging school district layoff notices and at Los Angeles Unified, hearings began on Monday over the validity of more than half the district’s 5,000 teacher layoff notices.

In these hearings every teacher is a number. Vickie Waite began teaching for L.A. Unified 17 years ago.

“My employee number is 657, I’ve been working for the district as a substitute teacher, committed to full time work if there was any available, and yet I got no credit for those nine years of service as a substitute teacher,” she said.

Waite is one of more than 3,000 L.A. Unified teachers who say they shouldn’t have received layoff notices. Most argue that the district’s not factoring in their advanced degrees and other teaching assignments.

She’s seeking advice from Warren Fletcher, a campus union rep and the incoming president of United Teachers Los Angeles.

“What you’re doing is you’re taking the middle of the profession out,” said Fletcher. “You’re taking the people who really make the school run and you’re putting their jobs on the line, and that’s wrong.”

Union officials say the seniority system should remain the foundation of teachers’ contracts. Some beginning teachers disagree and point to cracks in that foundation. A legal settlement sets aside seniority-based layoffs at some low-performing schools.

The hearings will continue Mondays through Fridays for the next seven weeks. After that, an administrative law judge will issue a ruling that goes to L.A. Unified’s school board for approval.