LOS ANGELES -- A superior court judge has issued an injunction to block district-mandated layoffs at three Los Angeles Unified middle schools.
The ruling specifically affects three low income schools: Samuel Gompers, John Liechty and Edwin Markham middle schools.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and the Public Counsel Law Center had filed a lawsuit in February, claiming job cuts would deprive inner-city kids of their right to an education.
The ruling returned says that budgetary layoffs based on teacher seniority unfairly impact low-income schools that typically employ teachers with the least amount of seniority -- meaning the teacher turnover caused by mandated layoffs would be more disruptive at those schools.
According to the court papers, 72 percent of the teachers at Liechty received layoff notices, while at Markham the cuts included almost the entire English department, along with every eighth-grade history teacher.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the school district, and the ACLU are praising the ruling, but the teachers union has yet to comment on the decision.
District superintendent Ramon Cortines, who has argued against using seniority as criteria for teacher layoffs, said school officials were "pleased" by the injunction, adding it provides "stability in the teacher workforce and maintains the continuity of the instructional program."
He called for new laws that would allow the district to consider other issues besides seniority when cutting staff due to budget constraints.
The 650,000-student district, the nation's second largest, had its funding slashed as the state struggled to close a massive budget deficit. The district, working within criteria set by the teachers' union, was forced to issue layoff notices to staff with the fewest years of experience.
The ACLU lawsuit seeks to avoid similar situations in the future by seeking to bar future job cuts that affect a higher percentage of teachers at those schools compared with other district campuses.