Lenny Speaks the Truth on Teacher’s Jail

EDUCATION POLITICS-It's hard for a proposed investigation of "teachers jail" to be taken seriously, when their unchallenged initial assumption is still that teachers are sent to teachers jail for "being verbally abusive, excessively missing work, failing to follow the rules for giving standardized tests, or sexual misconduct." Nothing could be further from the truth and they all know it. 

The vast majority of teachers sent to teacher jail are there because LAUSD will save approximately $60,000 a year in combined salary and benefits in just the first year they are gone. When they replace this falsely charged teacher with a cheap, younger teacher at a fraction of the cost, that fact is mysteriously never mentioned. How could any audit based on a false premise and half truths ever end positively?

Nowhere in this "Audit Request" is there mention that 87% of targeted teachers are over 40 and are at the top of the salary scale. Many have only a few years before they would become vested in lifetime health benefits valued at $300,000. LAUSD already has over $12 billion in unfunded benefits and this reality is forcing LAUSD into bankruptcy. However, this fact cannot be mentioned anywhere as a motive for targeting high seniority expensive teachers.

An even more basic question is never addressed: why is it necessary to house charged teachers at all for as much as 4 or 5 years, before giving them a hearing on the bogus charges against them? 

And then, the District's expensive outside attorneys misuse the 4-year rule designed to stop stale charges from being brought against teachers by LAUSD. They bring up this rule to stop targeted teachers from defending themselves by bringing up their unblemished careers prior to being “falsely imprisoned.” 

It’s also worth noting that the LAUSD administration has never explained why it is necessary to house teachers in intimidating and coercive LAUSD offices for years instead of at home. In the past, they’ve allowed teachers to be housed in their homes while these supposed investigations are taking place -- investigations that never come to fruition in a timely manner. A jailed teacher is constantly being intimidated and coerced into signing a 6-page document of resignation, waiving the right to take all future legal actions against LAUSD. Is this supposed to bring the teacher jail nightmare to an end? 

When I hear Donald Trump use his defamatory and indefensible rhetoric against Muslims and Mexicans -- just to name a few -- I must confess I have already become accustomed to this type of hate speech. LAUSD's presumption that legally presumed-innocent teachers must be confined for the "safety of students" is the same kind of unsubstantiated unconstitutional nonsense that presupposes guilt and seeks to inflame people. It savages senior teachers, the vast majority of whom have done nothing wrong...except maybe make too much money in the eyes of the LAUSD administration.  

The most often-cited reasons for placing an employee in this condition range from being verbally abusive, excessively missing work, failing to follow the rules for giving standardized tests, or sexual misconduct. At this point, the outcome of the “Teacher Jail” process is unknown. 

This is particularly important in the case of allegations of sexual misconduct – charges that must be vigorously investigated and prosecuted. However, the need for this audit is two-fold. We must rapidly resolve issues of sexual misconduct and terminate such employees. But we must also exonerate employees who are innocent and to keep them from languishing in limbo.

Los Angeles Unified School District estimates that its average educator costs $96,176 annually in salary and benefits. This means that, in 2014, LAUSD paid out approximately $38 million to the 400 employees who were housed in “Teacher Jail.”

(Leonard Isenberg is a Los Angeles observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He’s a second generation teacher at LAUSD and blogs at perdaily.com. Leonard can be reached at [email protected]) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.




Vol 13 Issue 103

Pub: Dec 22, 2015