In 2011 the Chicago school board carried out large-scale layoffs of teachers and paraprofessionals.
African American board employees bore the brunt of the layoffs just as the board’s closing of neighborhood public schools two years ago mainly impacted African American communities.
As a result of the layoffs in 2011 the Chicago Teachers Union and three impacted teachers filed suit.
As I understand it, a law suit like this has three components. First, the plaintiffs must show that they represent a class of people by a preponderance of the evidence. They were not just individual victims. It was not a coincidence that they were mostly African American. The judge is asked to certify that it is a class action before the case can move on to trial and a ruling of damages.
On Friday, Senior U.S. Judge Milton Shadur ruled in favor of the CTU and the three teachers.
However Judge Shadur didn’t just rule in the plaintiff’s favor.
The Judge was scathing in his rebuke of the CPS board.
“What does Board say on the critical issue of disparate impact in this critical case? Here are Amended Complaint 7 and 8 and Board’s “responses”:
7. In June, 2011, the Board terminated the employment of 931 classroom teachers through a round of layoffs. 480 of these teachers were tenured. African Americans made up 42% of the tenure teachers terminated, although constituting less than 29% of all CPS tenured teachers.
ANSWER: The Board denies the allegations of paragraph 7.
8. Defendant’s pattern and practice of targeting schools with high African American teaching populations for layoffs has a disparate impact on African American tenured teachers and staff.
ANSWER: The Board denies the allegations of paragraph 8 and further states that the Board does not “target” schools, or any demographic of teachers or staff, for layoffs under any circumstance.
And that’s it — the sum total of Board’s purported input on the subject of disparate impact, which is of course the essential linchpin for class certification purposes. Board has said not a word, then or since then, about the claimed basis for its unsupported ipse dixit “denial.”
In candor, that is totally irresponsible. This action has been pending for just short of 2-1/2 years: Plaintiffs filed their initial Complaint on December 26, 2012, and Board has known from day one about plaintiffs’ disparate impact contention and about the asserted numbers upon which those contentions rely.”
Judge Shadur’s ruling and order then proceeded through each requirement for certification as a class and sided with the teachers on each one.
Board’s only challenge to certification under Rule 23(b)(3) is its broken-record-type reassertion that individual principals fired plaintiffs, so that common questions do not predominate on that skewed premise. And that means Board has simply failed to raise any substantial challenge at all to plaintiffs’ arguments.
This is a man who’s made his motto “Children First.” How does he put children first? Apparently, by letting them know precisely which of their teachers are to be fired. Likely he will explain how getting rid of an objective layoff system will reduce the layoffs–by targeting higher-paid teachers he will be able to retain a higher number of them.
The EduJobs bill was going to bring laid off teachers back into the classroom.
But in Chicago the number of teachers that have lost their jobs over the summer now equal about 2,000. There seems little chance that they will be back in the classroom by the day after Labor Day weekend when Chicago schools open.
The new leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union has taken Ron Huberman and the Chicago board to court reports Catalyst.
Lawyers for the Chicago Teachers Union will go to federal court Wednesday morning to ask a judge to issue a temporary injunction reversing the layoffs of about 1,400 teachers and instructional coaches.
The union says that Chicago Public Schools must put laid-off teachers into its reassigned teacher pool – giving them 10 months to find a job before their pay ends – or consider them for positions occupied by non-tenured teachers. If the layoffs are found to be illegal, the union could even seek back pay.
UPDATED: Catalyst has tweeted that the judge has refused to hear the case before the start of school. Hearing is now scheduled for September 15th.
For a while, blogger Alexander Russo kept suggesting that the number of pink-slipped teachers was overstated.
Many state laws require districts to RIF a teacher even if there is some possibility they might return. In Illinois, teachers must be RIFed 45 days before the end of the school year or be assured a job the following year.
But I’ve seen projections of between 150,000 and 200,000 education jobs lost nationally for the 2010/2011 school year. Maybe there will be more. Maybe less. But if you’re are one of them, it’s hard to figure if you are going to find another teaching job, either elsewhere or any time soon.
These are teachers. Families. Income. Mortgages. Food on the table.
But this doesn’t matter to Russo.
The question is whether teachers can accept even relatively small layoff numbers without freaking out all over the Democrats in November. Over the years some of them seem to have gotten the notion that they are somehow protected from things like enrollment fluctuations and economic distress. It’s not their best side.
I don’t know who the “some of them” are that Russo has talked to. As someone who was RIFed every year of the first 7 years I taught due to unstable enrollment, it sure isn’t me, or any of the teachers I work with.
Did receiving a RIF letter every year for the first seven I taught bring out my best side?