The biggest teachers union in Los Angeles will likely ask the state Supreme Court to overturn a recent court decision blocking teacher layoffs at 45 struggling schools.
A.J. Duffy, president of the United Teachers of Los Angeles, told California Watch this week that his group is seriously considering filing a complaint with the state's highest court out of concern for the "unintended consequences" an outright ban on layoffs would have at the Los Angeles Unified School District. Blocking 45 schools from cuts will mean other schools will be forced to lose teachers, Duffy said.
The Court of Appeals on Monday shot down the union's request to delay a legal settlement won by the ACLU that blocks LA Unified from eliminating teachers at schools considered consistently underperforming. The ACLU had accused the district of violating the constitutional rights of students to a fair and equal education by imposing massive teacher layoffs and budget cuts at schools that were already struggling. In January, Judge William F. Highberger approved an settlement between the ACLU and LAUSD, which prompted the union to complain to the Court of Appeals. The court has not ruled on the union's complaint.
Duffy said the union could agree to freeze layoffs at three schools, but to ban them at 42 more would cause "chaos." If the decision is not reworked, Duffy said he feared LA Unified administrators would cut teachers at "another school and then another school" until the district meets its budgetary target.
"This is not the way to attack the problem," Duffy said. "You've got to make up the cuts somewhere."
In October, Duffy said in published reports that the union was shut out of settlement talks. But the ACLU disputed Duffy's contentions and claimed the teachers union walked out on talks.
'The union voluntarily absented itself from the negotiations,' said Mark Rosenbaum, chief counsel of the ACLU of Southern California. 'We called the union multiple times and encouraged them to participate. If they weren't in the room, it's because they walked out and refused to come back in.'