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Court Rules Against Jefferson Parish School Board on Reduction in Force Policy

Jefferson Federation of Teachers triumphs over School Board again

(June 25, 2012, Jefferson Parish, LA)  The 24th Judicial District Court of Jefferson Parish ruled today in favor of the Jefferson Federation of Teachers and against the Jefferson Parish School Board.  Judge Raymond Steib issued a permanent injunction stopping the School Board from applying its Reduction in Force (RIF) policy as implemented on July 13, 2011. 

The Court found that the way in which the policy was implemented was arbitrary, an abuse of discretion, and caused teachers irreparable injury. The Court also ruled that all teachers were not placed on “an equal playing field” because the policy affected only those teachers “unlucky enough to have been evaluated” in a single year, and because the evaluations were not “uniform” or “consistent.”  The Court also found that the teachers laid off were “irrelevant” to the positions the Board needed to eliminate.  The ruling allows for future remedies including damages.

This ruling follows a sharply worded decision by James Sherman, an independent arbitrator appointed jointly by the JPSB and the JFT, which decided against the Jefferson Parish School Board over the same RIF policy.  The arbitrator strongly condemned the Board’s actions, saying they were in violation of the teachers’ Collective Bargaining Agreement. 

These rulings come on the heels of the recent ruling in favor of the JFT regarding illegal implementation of a school employee furlough day.  On April 11, 2012, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal ruled against the Jefferson Parish School Board, which resulted in the School Board filing writs with the Louisiana Supreme Court.  However, on Friday, June 22, the Supreme Court of Louisiana refused to hear those writs, resulting in a final ruling on the case that found the Jefferson Parish School Board violated state law. 

“This Court’s decision provides justice for the teachers who were wrongly terminated,” said JFT President Meladie Munch.  “But it also is a victory for the citizens of Jefferson Parish. Four times now there have been rulings in favor of the position taken by the JFT and against that of the Jefferson Parish School Board. We have taken the stance that an elected body must follow the law. We hope that in the future, the School Board will consider input before taking ill-thought out, hasty actions.”

“As I said on Friday, the School Board has to stop making bad decisions.  Just like we did regarding the school employee furlough day, we said from the beginning that this action was illegal.  We ask that the School Board start to work with us so we can do what is best for our students, our teachers, and the community of Jefferson Parish.”