A consent decree that shields three Los Angeles schools from layoffs because of their young teaching staffs potentially infringes on the seniority rights of other teachers, a California appellate court has ruled.
The 2-1 ruling by the 2nd District California Court of Appeals sides with United Teachers Los Angeles’ claim that it is entitled to a ruling on the merits of whether seniority rights may be set aside to shield certain schools from layoffs.
The decision stems from a class action filed on behalf of students at three low-performing LAUSD schools that lost up to two-thirds of their teachers during a 2009 reduction in force. The students claimed they were denied equal educational opportunities under the California Constitution. A state trial judge found that high turnover at the low-performing schools “devastates educational opportunity,” and he enjoined further layoffs.
That led to a consent decree entered into by the school district, the students, and the private company that operates two of the schools. The settlement called for any future layoffs to skip teachers at as many as 48 schools disproportionately affected by teacher turnover. The union appealed the settlement.
A version of this article appeared in the August 22, 2012 edition of Education Week as Court Rejects Decree in L.A. Teacher Layoffs