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Dallas Teachers Sue Over Transfer Plan

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The Classroom Teachers of Dallas--an affiliate of the Texas State Teachers Association--has filed suit in a state district court accusing Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Linus Wright of attempting to carry out what the group says is an illegal transfer policy to provide jobs for 250 administrators whose jobs as "teaching consultants" will be abolished next year.

The positions are being terminated in response to a personnel-budget cutback in the district that was caused by changes in local districts' taxing power passed in the Texas legislature.

'Instructional Facilitators'

The employees are described by Robby Collins, deputy superintendent for management, as "instructional facilitators" who serve as consultants to full-time teachers.

The suit charges that Mr. Wright's policy will allow the consultants to be reassigned to classroom teaching positions, a move that will permit them to "bump" classroom teachers from their jobs and force the bumped teachers to transfer to other schools.

If the policy goes into effect, many teachers will be transferred to accommodate the former administrators' preferences, Leonard J. Schwartz, attorney for the plaintiffs, said.

Mr. Schwartz said it did not look as if layoffs would result from the proposed policy, but that will remain unclear until September, he added.

"This policy would allow administrators to pick and choose an assignment just because they are being sent back to teaching," Mr. Schwartz said.

The suit says the reassignment plan is illegal because it has not been approved by the school board and is in conflict with existing transfer policies that require vacancies to exist in a building before transfers are made.

It also says that preferential treatment given to administrators denies classroom teachers their right to equal protection under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Consultants' Preferences Listed

The superintendent's reassignment plan allowed the teaching consultants to list their preferences of schools, and assignments were made based on those choices.

Mr. Collins said there will not be as much transferring of teachers as the union believes, because many of the teaching consultants will fill places opened through normal staff attrition. Mr. Collins asserted that "98 percent" of the teaching consultants being moved back into full-time teaching will fill vacancies created by retirement.

The only people laid off so far, he said, have been 75 "research and evaluation specialists" who did not have teaching credentials and who could not be placed as teachers.

He said this "one-shot" transfer policy--which the superintendent is empowered to make by the school board--is in response to the "unusual, exceptional circumstance" of a large number of experienced teachers losing their positions.

The teachers are asking the court to declare Mr. Wright's reassignment document invalid and to issue a temporary restraining order to prevent him from carrying it out.

The suit was filed by Rose Hereford and Alice F. Smith, teachers who are members of the Classroom Teachers of Dallas and the Texas State Teachers Association.

Mr. Collins said the district has not yet seen a copy of the lawsuit.--A.H.

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