Thursday, August 26, 2010
Ward Connerly Group Dismisses Bias Suit After Settlement With LAUSD
By a MetNews Staff Writer
An organization led by anti-affirmative action activist—and former University of California regent—Ward Connerly said yesterday it had dismissed a lawsuit charging the Los Angeles Unified School District with illegally assigning teachers to schools on the basis of race.
The Pacific Legal Foundation, which represented Connerly’s American Civil Rights Foundation—said it dismissed the action after concluding a settlement with LAUSD.
“Using race to assign teachers to schools teaches the wrong lesson—that people are defined by their race,” PLF attorney Joshua P. Thompson said. “It is unfortunate that it took a lawsuit to prod LAUSD to stop this policy of discrimination. But the result is a victory for equal rights and equal opportunities. This case should drive home to all school districts and government entities in California that using race to make employment decisions isn’t just wrong—it’s flat-out prohibited by the California Constitution. Government and its bureaucracies are mandated to obey Proposition 209’s ban on race-based discrimination and preferences.”
ACRF sued the district in 2005, claiming that a provision of the colleces.”
ACRF sued the district in 2005, claiming that a provision of the collective bargaining agreement between the district and the United Teachers-Los Angeles violated Proposition 209, which bans the use of racial classifications and preferences in school admissions, employment, and government contracting.
The provision required the district, in determining assignments, to consider whether assigning a particular teacher to a particular school would bring the racial composition of the faculty closer to that of the district teacher work force as a whole.
The litigation moved slowly, attorneys for the parties explained yesterday, because it raised issues that were already being litigated in other cases, one an ACRF suit challenging how pupils were assigned to LAUSD magnet schools, and another in which a math teacher in the San Fernando Valley was challenging the teacher assignment policy in federal court.
The federal case, Friery v. Los Angeles Unified School District, was eventually dismissed for lack of standing, so the merits of the policy were not addressed. PLF and ACRF then moved forward with discovery in the state court teacher-assignment case before the district suggested a settlement.
The settlement agreement recites that the district, under an agreement with the UTLA, has already abandoned the policy. LAUSD has agreed not to reinstitute it, and to pay PLF $45,000 in legal fees and costs.
Peter James of Baker & Hostetler, who represented the school district, said it settled because the policy was “moribund” anyway. School faculties throughout the district have been diversified by other means in the five years since the suit was filed, and because the CBA was up for renegotiation this year, the timing was right to end the policy and resolve the litigation, the attorney said.
“UTLA was comfortable with that,” James told the MetNews. As for the attorney fees, he said, the agreed-upon amount was “a lot less than they originally asked for, and more than we wanted to pay.”
The case is American Civil Rights Foundation v. Los Angeles Unified School District, Superior Court No. BC341341.
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