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Union accuses L.A. Unified of targeting its school leaders

September 05, 2013|By Howard Blume
  • Teachers union president Warren Fletcher, shown here at 2012 rally, announced Thursday that the union had filed allegations of unfair labor practices against the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Teachers union president Warren Fletcher, shown here at 2012 rally, announced… (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles…)

The Los Angeles teachers union has ramped up the battle over displaced teachers at Crenshaw High and another campus, accusing the district of removing instructors because they engaged in union activity that is protected by law.

United Teachers Los Angeles filed two unfair practice charges Thursday with the state’s Public Employment Relations Board, union officials announced in a new conference at its Koreatown headquarters. One filing challenges the removal of 12 teachers from Crenshaw High in Leimert Park; the other questions the transfer of the head union representative at City of Angels, an alternative school with classes at more than 20 locations across the L.A. Unified School District.

All teachers at Crenshaw were required to re-interview for their jobs when the school re-opened this fall as a magnet campus with three separate programs. Thirty-three teachers had tried unsuccessfully to return; 29 were invited back but several elected not to go, the union said. State law protects union members from retaliation for engaging in legal union activity.

In this case, such actions extended to speaking out on behalf of students and the school community, said union president Warren Fletcher.

"Teachers should feel free every day to do what is the heart and soul of a teacher’s job: to advocate for their students and the community they live in,” Fletcher said. These particular teachers were focused on making their schools “better educational environments.”

L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy declined to comment, but in the past he has cited persistently low academic performance at Crenshaw as creating an imperative for dramatic change. In such cases, if he did nothing to protect student civil rights, he has said, he would deserve to be taken to task for that.

Teachers Cathy Garcia, Chandra Roberts and Meredith Smith cited strong past performance evaluations as reasons they should have remained.

"I would still like to see the rationale behind why I was not allowed to return to Crenshaw,” said Garcia, who now teaches math at another school, where she’s been elected the union leader.

Roberts, who taught disabled students, said teachers who personally confronted either the principal or Deasy were targeted. She is working as a full-time substitute teacher.

Earlier, the union had filed grievances on behalf of displaced Crenshaw teachers. And teachers also have submitted a discrimination complaint with the state.

The displaced City of Angels teacher is Jeff Pott, who said he had repeated conflicts with a recent principal over his defense of teachers, students and parents. He also is working as a full-time substitute.


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