Heeding an administrative law judge’s recommendation, and advice from its own lawyers, the Los Angeles school board voted 6 to 0 Thursday to rescind all but a handful of the layoff notices sent in March to teachers, librarians, nurses, psychologists and others.
However, the district may still lay off as many as 2,000 probationary teachers, those with less than three years of experience, to help balance its 1991-92 budget.
“We will balance our budget by (losing) only 33 permanent teachers,” said school board president Jackie Goldberg. “We are rescinding 937 layoff notices to permanent employees . . . but if the cuts proposed are enacted we (may) be laying off up to 2,000 provisionary and probationary employees.”
More than 950 tenured employees had been notified that they might not be rehired next semester because of the district’s budget deficit, estimated now at more than $240 million.
Of those, only 33 driver training instructors will actually face layoff. Funding for the district’s driver training program has been withdrawn by the state.
The school board hearing room was packed with almost 200 teachers who had received layoff notices, and they erupted in applause when the board took its vote.
Under state law, the layoffs were reviewed at an administrative hearing to determine whether proper procedures were followed in determining who would be laid off. That resulted in a non-binding recommendation by Administrative Law Judge Paul Hogan that all of the layoffs be rescinded because the district did not provide the affected employees with adequate records documenting their seniority and failed to establish the need to exempt bilingual employees from the layoffs.
In rescinding the layoffs, the board rejected the judge’s ruling, and characterized any mistakes made as technical errors that did not affect the propriety of the notices.
Instead, the board concluded that the layoffs will not be necessary because enough probationary teachers can be cut to allow the district to balance its budget.
United Teachers-Los Angeles attorney Larry Trygstad said the union intends to challenge the layoffs of driver training teachers in Superior Court.
In a separate meeting Thursday, the board voted to increase class size by three students in grades 9 to 12. That will save the district $21.3 million next year by allotting high schools fewer teachers.
In addition, the board approved another $31.4 million in cuts, including a reduction in the number of substitute teachers available to secondary schools, and changes in staffing formulas that will result in fewer teaching positions at junior and senior high schools.