LAUSD teacher Tanya Lentz job hands in jeopardy and says she thinks teachers are being kept in a place of fear as layoffs loom. Lentz and about 9,000 other classification employees, including teachers, pled their cases before an LAUSD board, which explains their reasons for the layoffs. Ted Chen reports from Downtown LA for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on April 16, 2012.
Hearings begin Monday for LAUSD employees who wish to challenge the layoff notices they received last month as part of the district's plan to address a $390 million budget deficit.
The plan called for more than 11,700 lay-off notifications to be sent to teachers, administrators, counselors, librarians and other certified educators. That's almost a third of Los Angeles Unified School District's 36,000 certified employees.
Early and adult education programs were hit the hardest.
Layoffs are tentative -- thousands are expected to be rescinded in June when additional resources like tax and lottery revenues can be included in the final budget, said Gayle Pollard, a district spokeswoman.
"I think it's unfair for teachers to be hanging over a cliff and in fear," said Tanya Lentz, a LAUSD teacher whose job hangs in jeopardy. "And I feel like that's kind of what's happening."
Last year, LAUSD sent out about 7,000 notices, but due to increased state funding and implementing employee sacrifices like pay cuts and involuntary furlough days, nearly half were retracted, according to an LAUSD news release.
"The number of layoffs is the worst-case scenario as of March,” Pollard said, because the state requires the district send a balanced budget in March. “No decision is final.”
In the last four years, the district has never laid off as many employees as were initially notified, said Vivian Ekhaian with LAUSD Human Resources.
The hearings give employees an opportunity fight lay-off decisions on grounds of seniority or special expertise.
An annual occurrence for the last three years, the hearings are expected to continue into June.
Lay-off notices were sent to more than 25 percent of United Teachers Los Angeles members and account for more than half of the total state-wide lay-off notices sent this year.
The union warns that the thousands of layoffs will limit teachers’ ability to meet students’ most basic needs.
“Students, parents, and teachers have no more patience for this. Students’ educational futures are hanging by a thread," UTLA President Warren Fletcher said.
This year's number of layoffs was unprecedented, and employees will find out at the end of June how many jobs will be saved.