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California

Judge issues temporary restraining order against Alliance charter group

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has issued a temporary restraining order against Alliance College-Ready Public schools that prohibits the charter group from interfering with unionization efforts.

The order, signed by attorneys from Alliance and United Teachers Los Angeles, states that the city’s largest charter group cannot coerce or ask teachers about their positions on unionization, must let organizers onto campuses, cannot block emails from the union and must stay 100 feet away from organizers.  

United Teachers Los Angeles and the charter organization have been locked in a battle since a group of teachers at Alliance announced in March that they had launched a drive to unionize.

While some California charter schools have formed unions, most resist collective bargaining.

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California’s Public Employment Relations Board this month filed for an injunction against the charter organization. The temporary restraining order issued will remain in place until Nov. 17 when the judge considers the board’s request for a preliminary injunction.

Union leaders have filed four unfair practice claims against Alliance alleging that the charter group is violating state law by intimidating employees, conducting surveillance on teachers and blocking organizers at school sites.

Two of those complaints are scheduled for a hearing on Monday.

“The court now has stated clearly that these educators at Alliance are not being treated fairly and that validates, frankly, what these educators at Alliance have been saying for months,” UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said. “These are educators who are fighting for some really simple elements of having a voice at their schools around curriculum issues, school policy issues and who wanted to lift up parent and student voices.”

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The charter group has denied wrongdoing.

“Of course, we are going to comply with the order,” Alliance spokeswoman Catherine Suitor said. “It actually doesn’t change much. It says no one will coerce or threaten and we agree with that and haven’t been doing that." 

Suitor said one change is that union leaders will be allowed to enter the schools after school hours. 

Alliance has 27 schools, in mostly minority neighborhoods with traditionally lower-performing schools. Alliance has received large donations from some of the biggest philanthropists in the city, including more than $6 million from Eli Broad in 2007 to help expand the group.

zahira.torres@latimes.com

For more education news, follow @zahiratorres on Twitter.

 

Education Matters, the Times’ new digital initiative devoted to more in-depth reporting on schools, is funded, in part, by the Baxter Family Foundation. Frank Baxter sits on the Alliance board of directors. The Broad Foundation and the California Community Foundation also provide financial support for Education Matters.

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