By Jason Song| LA Times
Markham Middle School seventh-grader Concepciona Manuel-Flores, left, and eighth-grader Sharail Reed are parties to the lawsuit brought by their parents, the ACLU and others against L.A. Unified. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times / February 20, 2010)
February 25, 2010 -- Concepciona Manuel-Flores couldn't answer many of the questions on a standardized English test in December, even though she says she's a straight-A student. "I had six or seven substitute teachers," the Markham Middle School seventh-grader said. "All we did in English was silent reading or the same assignments, over and over."
Concepciona is one of the plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court on behalf of students at three of the city's worst-performing middle schools. The suit claims those students were denied their legal rights to an education and aims to prevent the Los Angeles Unified School District from laying off more teachers there.
The last round of L.A. Unified teacher firings affected thousands of instructors and led to chaotic conditions on some campuses, especially at Samuel Gompers, Edwin Markham and John H. Liechty middle schools, according to a complaint against the school district and the state filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Public Counsel and Morrison & Foerster. Between half and three-quarters of the teachers at those campuses were laid off last year, according to the suit.
Citing state law, school districts typically dismiss teachers on the basis of seniority during budgetary shortfalls. Lawyers who filed the suit said California law allows districts to circumvent the seniority rule on the basis of need or if cuts disproportionately affect certain groups.