Justices Decline to Hear Appeal of Dismissed New Orleans Teachers

By Mark Walsh — May 19, 2015 1 min read
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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear an appeal on behalf of thousands of New Orleans teachers who were terminated after Hurricane Katrina. It appears to be the end of the line for the teachers who lost their jobs after the state Recovery School District took over the city’s school system after the devastating 2005 hurricane.

The appeal stemmed from a class action brought on behalf of some 7,500 teachers in the Orleans Parish school system who were dismissed in the months after Hurricane Katrina struck on Aug. 29, 2005. After the hurricane, 102 of the city’s 126 public schools were transferred to the state-created Recovery School District.

Some separate lawsuits involving the dismissed teachers’ rights brought by the United Teachers-New Orleans were settled, but the class action continued and met some success in lower state courts. Those courts had found there were due-process violations and that authorities had failed to place the teachers on a two-year recall list as required by state law.

But last October, the Supreme Court of Louisiana ruled 5-2 against the teachers and dismissed their case. It held that depriving the teachers priority consideration for re-employment did not deny them a property right and that the chance that any teacher from the class would actually be rehired appeared remote.

In their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in Oliver v. Orleans Parish School Board (Case No. 14-1090), the dismissed teachers argued that the Orleans Parish School Board and various state defendants “violated well settled constitutional law regarding 14th Amendment due-process rights of tenured public school employees.”

The teachers “here had a reasonable expectation of resuming their pre-Katrina employment positions upon their return to New Orleans,” the appeal said.

The justices declined the appeal without comment on May 18.

A version of this news article first appeared in The School Law Blog.