‘Decision Is Major Step Toward Correcting Reckless Decision to Terminate Thousands’
WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten released the following statement on today’s ruling by the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans that thousands of teachers, principals and support staff were wrongfully fired by the Orleans Parish School Board following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“Today’s decision is a major step toward correcting the reckless decision to terminate more than 7,000 teachers and other school employees following Hurricane Katrina. The court has found that the Orleans Parish School Board and other agencies used the Katrina tragedy as an excuse for the illegal mass firing of teachers.
“These firings did not have nameless, faceless victims. These were people who worked every day in New Orleans public schools, and were a part of the fabric of the community. The school board’s actions were part of a political agenda to restructure New Orleans public schools. Little thought beyond that was given to legal, educational or personal ramifications.
“In the end, the children of New Orleans have been ill-served by a misguided experiment. The lesson of this ruling for education officials in New Orleans and across Louisiana is that they must act within the law.
“This case is about something very fundamental in America—extending basic fairness to teachers who were wrongfully dismissed because of a natural tragedy. It is only right that the educators and support staff will receive the seven months of back pay they are owed because the district put them on disaster leave without pay. However, that cannot begin to recoup for them all they lost because of the board’s unlawful action.
“The AFT is proud of the role that the United Teachers of New Orleans played in fighting to secure justice for its members and others illegally fired. We are also grateful for the courage and persistence of UTNO President Larry Carter, attorney Larry Samuel and former UTNO president Brenda Mitchell throughout this long battle.”