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Old 18 January 2014, 12:06 AM
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Default 7,000 New Orleans teachers, laid off after Katrina, win court ruling

http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/...hers_laid.html

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In a lawsuit that some say could bankrupt the Orleans Parish public school system, an appeals court has decided that the School Board wrongly terminated more than 7,000 teachers after Hurricane Katrina. Those teachers were not given due process, and many teachers had the right to be rehired as jobs opened up in the first years after the storm, the court said in a unanimous opinion.

The state is partly responsible for damages, according to Wednesday's ruling from Louisiana's Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal. However, its five-judge panel did reduce the potential damages certified by the District Court: Instead of five years of back pay plus fringe benefits, the appeals court awarded the teachers two to three years of back pay, with benefits only for those employees who had participated in them when they were employed.
Quote:
The decision validates the anger felt by former teachers who lost their jobs. It says they should have been given top consideration for jobs in the new education system that emerged in New Orleans in the years after the storm.

Beyond the individual employees who were put out, the mass layoff has been a lingering source of pain for those who say school system jobs were an important component in maintaining the city's black middle class. New Orleans' teaching force has changed noticeably since then. More young, white teachers have come from outside through groups such as Teach for America. And charter school operators often offer private retirement plans instead of the state pension fund, which can discourage veteran teachers who have years invested in the state plan.
Quote:
The circumstances of those layoffs rubbed salt in the wound, plaintiffs said: Notices were delivered to teachers' old addresses, sometimes to houses that no longer existed, and they directed teachers wanting to appeal the layoff to come to the School Board's building, which Katrina had destroyed. This happened even though state-appointed consultants Alvarez & Marsal had set up a hotline to collect teachers' evacuation addresses.

Meanwhile, the state took over almost all the city's public schools and radically expanded the opportunity to charter them. The tragedy of the storm offered the opportunity, reformers said, to make big changes that would give the children the education they deserved.

Schools reopened one at a time or in handfuls, in a decentralized system. The charters had complete control of their own hiring.
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