Tuesday, May 05, 2009

LAUSD FIGHTS WORK STOPPAGE: Teachers will stay away from class on May 15 to protest the cuts

by Rubén Moreno | La Opinión

May 5, 2009 -- The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is “reviewing all the options” to avoid a work stoppage during one day of instruction called for by United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA).

The teachers union plans not to teach class on Friday, May 15, in response to the layoffs of teachers approved by the school board.

During the next few days, students will be involved in assessment and performance tests, which is why the union defends “May 15 as the least controversial day” because of the tests being conducted.

Seventy-four percent of teachers voted in favor of carrying out the stoppage, out of a total of almost 27,000 teachers who cast their ballots in a vote organized by UTLA last Thursday.

Almost 75% support

“It hasn’t been an easy decision to make, but we don’t have any alternative since the superintendent has decided to increase class size and bring chaos to the schools when the District has money to avoid the layoffs,” said A.J. Duffy, union president.

LAUSD Superintendent Ramón Cortines said he understood “the frustration that some teachers may feel” because of the financial situation the District is facing, and he said he hopes that they fulfill “their responsibilities every day,” including May 15. Furthermore, he called the union’s action irresponsible because it “violates the law and the contract with the union.”

The last time that teachers did not show up in their classrooms was last June, although the stoppage was only for an hour at the beginning of the school day to protest the state cuts in education.

At that time, LAUSD officials requested the intervention of the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB), which found in favor of the teachers and did not consider the stoppage illegal because it could not find enough reasons that it would cause some time of public harm.

“That option [appealing to PERB] is one that we may take, but we are still not in a position to say what we will do. It’s too premature, and we are considering all options,” said Lydia Ramos, spokesperson for the school district.

So far, LAUSD has rescinded the layoffs of 1,996 teachers that had already been approved, whereas 1,360 certificated employees agreed to take early retirement. District officials extended until Friday the date to request early retirement, which could help to save more jobs if additional people sign up for the retirement program.

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