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LAUSD to rehire some teachers; UTLA presses for more

August 5, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Welcome news for hundreds of Los Angeles teachers: The Los Angeles Unified School District has announced it is rehiring teachers after taking another look at the numbers.

But the teachers union United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) says the district should be hiring back even more teachers, claiming LAUSD is actually breaking the law.

The district says it crunched some of the new numbers that administrators compiled over the summer and it's able to bring 450 teachers back to work.

But UTLA says the district has the money to do more, and the district is actually violating state law by not putting all of its out-of-work teachers back into the classroom.

LAUSD administrators looked at retirements, resignations and dismissals, and as a result they were able to re-hire 453 elementary school teachers that had been laid off.

"This is excellent news. We would love to have done that earlier, but people don't make those decisions sometimes until over the summer," said LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy

Deasy says the teachers will be added to elementary schools throughout the district.

UTLA represents 40,000 LAUSD teachers says this is only a small victory.

"The district has the ability right now to return teachers," said UTLA President Warren Fletcher.

Fletcher says LAUSD has the money to re-hire all the educators who were let go in June.

"The state budget, when it was adopted, included funding to make sure that the level of staffing and that the level of stability at schools remain the same between last year and this year," said Fletcher.

The district has re-hired 4,170 of the teachers and support personnel who were laid off due to state and federal funding cuts. About 1,450 teachers and other staff are still without work.

Fletcher says the state has given the district new funding specifically to re-hire those educators.

"The district still has not implemented the requirements of AB 114, the state law that required them to maintain the same program levels, the same staffing levels, and as a result, schools will not be stabilized the way that the governor and the legislature had intended," said Fletcher.

Deasy says the district interprets the state budget differently.

"You don't hire positions for which there is either no funding for it, whether it's promised or otherwise. Unless the cash is on the doorstep, we don't spend it," said Deasy.

Deasy says other factors are at play, like the loss of enrollment of 17,000 students.

"The administration is not going to be moving in the direction other than a strong, fiscally solvent direction," said Deasy.

Fletcher says he's not looking for a fight with the district, but he says the union is exploring all of its options at the moment, including the possibility of a lawsuit. He says the district needs to comply with state law.

But Deasy says he's doing what he needs to do to keep the district solvent.

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