WASHINGTON (CN) – The Washington Teachers’ Union asked the Superior Court to enjoin a layoff of hundreds of public schoolteachers. The District of Columbia Public School announced this month that it will lay off 266 employees, including 229 teachers, due to a budget crisis.
The union disputes claims of a budget shortfall. It says, “the approved budget for the 2009-1010 school year is larger than the approved budget of [the] last school year.” It also claims the student population is smaller and that the layoffs are a dodge by which the district will get rid of older teachers in favor of younger ones.
According to the complaint, DC Public Schools are operating on a budget of $779.6 million, which is $17,448 per student. That’s $33 million more than last year’s budget, which worked out to $16,014 per student.
The district hired 934 teachers this year before announcing the layoffs on Oct. 2.
The union claims the district knew that student enrollment would not necessitate the new teacher hiring, and that the schools “purposefully created a situation of having excess teachers” in order to fire older teachers without just cause, due process or arbitration.
The layoffs are set for Nov. 2. The union says that firing teachers in the middle of the school year will disrupt students and cause more problems in an already beleaguered school system.
The union, Local 6 of the American Federation of Teachers, sued the District of Columbia, its school district, schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, and Mayor Adrian Fenty. It seeks an injunction to expedite arbitration and rescission of the layoffs. It is represented by Lee Jackson with O’Donnell Schwartz.