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Web Letters | The Nation

Stevenson & Schiller are just the tip of the iceberg at LAUSD

I am a lawyer. I “unretired” thirty-three months ago to represent a whistleblower who was suspended without pay and threatened with dismissal.

During the past thirty-three months I have been accumulating evidence that the Stevenson and Schiller cases are not exceptions but are the rule.

LAUSD is engaged in economic extortion: teachers are threatened with lengthy disciplinary procedures and given a “choice”: (a) resign, and LAUSD will allow you to slink away and nobody will know why you left; (b) challenge the charges, and you will be suspended without pay and benefits for an indefinite period of time. Further, until very recently, every teacher who chose to defend themselves against the charges was accused of “immoral conduct” under Education Code section 44939. However, since I have been challenging this vague, unconstitutional denial of due process, LAUSD recently started charging teachers with “willful refusal to perform regular assignments without reasonable cause”, another ground for summary suspension under section 44939.

As your article points out, most of the targeted teachers are over 40. However, the blatant age discrimination is only the tip of the iceberg, because most of these teachers are close to vesting lifetime, fully paid, health benefits.

LAUSD has actually calculated that it will save about a quarter of a million dollars for every teacher who does not vest lifetime health benefits. Add to this “bounty” the fact that these teachers are also at the top of the salary scale and being replaced by inexperienced teachers at the bottom of the scale, and LAUSD has a further financial incentive to engage in the academic equivalent of genocide based on seniority, age and length of service.

As you also point out, UTLA, the teacher’s union, has been ineffective, to say the least. Although very strong arguments can be made that UTLA should be filing an action against LAUSD to cease and desist its unconstitutional acts under Article V of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, UTLA has diverted its scarce resources to paying a single law firm to represent teachers, one case at a time.

I am willing to share my information with anyone who is interested in looking at “evidence” instead of public relations pieces—which is what it appears that you actually did. For example, you might be interested in a teacher who is, in effect, being dismissed for hitting a student’s fist with his ribs. Another has a charge that there was a dim bulb in her room (and it wasn’t just the person evaluating her, pardon the pun). Another recently won a hearing—and LAUSD immediately took it up a notch by filing a writ in superior court—where LAUSD lost! But, where is the press attention? It ain’t in LA … so, Nation, please take a look for us.

Ronald C. Lapekas

Los Angeles

May 13 2014 - 12:51am

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