Morrison & Foerster Wins Court Approval for Historic Consent Decree Protecting Students' Rights

01/21/2011

Jack W. Londen

Press Release

LOS ANGELES (January 21, 2011) – After a year-long litigation culminating in a three-day evidentiary hearing, Morrison & Foerster LLP, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, and the Public Counsel Law Center, today obtained the entry of an important court-ordered consent decree on behalf of students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). The plaintiffs, students at some of LAUSD's most impacted schools, had sued the State and school district over LAUSD’s layoffs of thousands of teachers that fell disproportionately on the most challenged schools, causing such disruption that students' were denied their constitutional right to equal educational opportunity. The consent decree incorporates broad and sweeping changes that will protect schools similar to those of the plaintiffs’ from hard-hitting reductions in force (RIFs).

In May 2010, Morrison & Foerster and co-counsel obtained a preliminary injunction, issued by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Highberger, based on his finding that “high teacher turnover devastates educational opportunity” and that the RIFs violated plaintiffs’ constitutional right to equal education opportunity.

The consent decree issued today will also prohibit RIFs at up to 45 of LAUSD's most vulnerable schools. Additionally, LAUSD must take a number of measures, including retention programs for qualified and effective teachers and administrators, to stabilize these high needs schools.
According to Morrison & Foerster partner Sean Gates, “The Court's consent decree is historic. It is the first to recognize that the instability and chaos created by massive teacher layoffs at struggling schools violates student's constitutional rights. By preventing LAUSD from imposing further layoffs at already struggling schools and providing for serious and thoughtful intervention measures to help these schools, the decree also creates the necessary platform to allow serious reform efforts at take effect at these schools.”

Along with Mr. Gates, the Morrison & Foerster team included partner Jack Londen and associates Dale Larson and Hailly Korman.

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