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La. Union Takes Aim at Recruiter

Firm That Supplied Teachers Is Subject of Extortion Complaint

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A teacher-recruiting company extorted thousands of dollars from 200 Filipino teachers seeking placement in Louisiana schools, the Louisiana Federation of Teachers alleged in a complaint filed last week with the state attorney general and the workforce commission.

The LFT, an affiliate of the 1.4 million-member American Federation of Teachers, claims that the proprietor of Los Angeles-based Universal Placement International, Lourdes “Lulu” Navarro, charged teachers $15,000 each. Upon their arrival in the United States, she forced the teachers to sign contracts to turn over 10 percent of their annual salaries to Universal, required them to pay for substandard housing, and threatened those who balked at the additional fees with deportation, it claims.

The teachers were employed in the parishes of Avoyelles, Caddo, East Baton Rouge, and Jefferson, and in the Recovery School District in New Orleans. The complaint charges Universal with breaking several state employment laws and seeks a cancellation of the teachers’ contracts and recovery of the fees they paid.

The alleged malfeasance could have federal implications. According to exhibits filed with the complaint, Louisiana and rsd officials paid Universal for its services in part with hurricane-recovery funding received from the U.S. Department of Education.

Ms. Navarro did not return an e-mail or a phone message left at her company’s office.

Spokespersons for the Recovery School District and the Louisiana education department did not return calls seeking comment. A spokeswoman for the office of the inspector general for the federal Department of Education declined to comment.

Vol. 29, Issue 06, Page 4

Published in Print: October 7, 2009, as La. Union Takes Aim at Recruiter
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