FIRST PERSON-For years now, thousands of teachers and other certificated and classified staff that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and similar public school districts around the state and country have been unjustly and illegally targeted and terminated in violation of their fundamental rights. This includes the constitutionally guaranteed right to basic due process of law from an independent entity, in which the presumption of guilt is not a foregone conclusion. (Photo above: Acting Superintendent Vivian Ekchian.)
These teachers have been accused of alleged "crimes" such as being at the top of the salary scale, refusing to give passing grades to students who are not doing passing work, or for not falsifying attendance records to defraud the State and federal government of Average Daily Attendance (ADA) money. Many LAUSD mostly senior and more expensive employees have been fired in bad faith without these basic due processes of law.
What is most disturbing is that even a cursory investigation of LAUSD administrator allegations against its employees citing inflammatory charges like racism, improper touching of students, and incompetence could have shown that no such behaviors were ever committed by the charged employees. But once an administrator like a principal has brought such charges, no subsequent examinations are conducted, no independent investigations, only a rubber-stamping of the administrator’s process.
While it is regrettable that such behavior continues in public school districts like LAUSD, it is nonetheless understandable given the long-entrenched bureaucracy there. Administrators move up the bureaucratic chain of career "success" by not making waves and never questioning the actions of those below or above you.
In looking at the present supposedly independent search for a new LAUSD superintendent, one can see this primary tenet in play. The “go along to get along” philosophy at LAUSD is visible in the consideration of Acting Superintendent Vivian Ekchian, who never encountered a document she wouldn't sign, who never has engaged in an independent investigation to determine if charges against an employee had any basis in fact, beyond what she was being told.
While such behavior is regrettably understandable within the generationally entrenched self-serving bureaucracy of LAUSD, what is not so easily to grasp is the complicity of teachers' unions like CTA, AFT, and UTLA, which make no attempt to come to the aid of their falsely charged members.
In addition, no legally mandated oversight agency like the local district attorney, State Attorney General, Department of Education, or FBI has made any attempt to expose and take action against illegal behavior that denies LAUSD's employees their right to constitutionally guaranteed due process.
In being targeted, LAUSD employees have had a hard time processing and accepting that this system is so corrupt. Accordingly, they have mistakenly limited themselves to responding to the protracted charges against them in forums that LAUSD determines and controls. This must come to an end.
This linked document is a writ that seeks to finally hold districts like LAUSD accountable for their illegal and often criminal behavior that up until now has not been scrutinized by the courts. Feel free to use it as a template for your own action. One can only hope that targeted LAUSD employees and others will finally get the message that this is not going to go away without proactive litigation against illegal behavior that LAUSD makes no attempt to hide.
(Leonard Isenberg is a Los Angeles, observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He was a second- generation teacher at LAUSD and blogs at perdaily.com. Leonard can be reached at [email protected].) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.