I haven’t written about this case in the context of our own layoffs here in San Francisco, but education policy wonks around the state have been closely watching a case filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against the Los Angeles Unified School District; the case alleges that the disproportionate impact of layoffs at three LAUSD middle schools violates the civil rights of low income students and students of color who make up the enrollment at those schools.
Late this afternoon, the judge in the case issued a preliminary injunction blocking the layoffs. Potentially, this injunction could have a major impact, since there is already a statewide conversation going on over the impact of seniority in widespread layoffs. California school districts could lay off as many as 26,000 teachers this year — we have little choice after years of cuts to education funding, and no relief in sight. Since state law requires school district to lay teachers off in order of seniority, hard-to-staff schools filled with less senior teachers are disproportionately affected.
I think it’s misguided to gut seniority policies wholesale — some of the current rhetoric around the country smacks more of union-busting than educational reform — but I would support changes to the Education Code allowing school districts to negotiate protections for fragile school communities that would otherwise be decimated by seniority-based layoffs.