Judge Allows L.A. Unified to Keep Challenging Prop. 187

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Los Angeles Unified School District can continue its legal challenge of Proposition 187, a Superior Court judge ruled Friday, saying it is within the school system's authority to clarify provisions of the anti-illegal immigration measure.

Judge Robert O'Brien, who refused to issue a preliminary injunction against the school system, said banning the district from seeking legal interpretations of the measure would risk wasting taxpayers' money. Implementing Proposition 187 would require massive restructuring for the district and the school system should seek legal clarification, the judge said.

Glenn Spencer, whose Sherman Oaks-based group filed a lawsuit against the district and six of its seven board members, said he is disappointed with the judge's ruling. But he added that the group will prevail with a provision of the lawsuit that would require school board members to repay public coffers for an anti-187 campaign. That portion of Spencer's lawsuit was unaffected by Friday's court ruling.

"It is disappointing, but it does not in any way affect the validity of our original complaint . . . that board members used taxpayers' money to influence the outcome of an election," Spencer said.

Although he acknowledged that the possibility of getting money from individual board members for their post-election efforts to block the initiative were diminished Friday, he said the group is still seeking at least $300,000 for the board's pre-election activities. Spencer said he believes that school board members issued "propaganda" against Proposition 187 and might have instigated student walkouts throughout the district before the November election.

School district lawyer Howard Friedman, who denied any wrongdoing by school board members either before or after the election, said the district will prevail in all aspects of the lawsuit.

Los Angeles Unified has joined with school districts in San Francisco and Sacramento to block implementation of Proposition 187. District officials say they stand to lose up to $650 million in federal funds and will be forced to fire up to 10,000 teachers if they are compelled to verify the immigration status of students and their parents.

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