The Center for Law and Social Justice (CLSJ), in conjunction with the San Diego Lawyer chapter of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, held a panel at Thomas Jefferson School of Law to discuss the impact of teacher layoffs in San Diego on Wednesday, August 24 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The panel featured speakers Emily Alpert, education reporter for voiceofsandiego.org; Camille Zombro, vice president of the local teachers union; and Catherine Lhamon, Director of Impact Litigation at Public Counsel Law Center. Many teachers and San Diego residents attended the event to learn more about the issues that face the community.
According to Alpert, the first teachers to be laid off in public schools are the newer teachers. Schools in disadvantaged areas are likely to have the newest teachers, so they often are hit the hardest by the layoffs.
“The problem is that schools are built on relationships, and when there are layoffs it’s extremely disruptive,” she said. “This is not fair to the students.”
Speaker Catherine Lhamon helped reach landmark settlement in REED v. State of California, in which the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, Public Counsel sued three Los Angeles Schools over students’ rights to equal educational opportunity under the California Constitution.
“The law is that seniority prevails, unless it would violate the Constitution,” Lhamon said. “What is happening in these schools is unconstitutional because the message that is sent to the kids is that ‘we don’t want to teach here.’ It all comes down to an equal protection issue. Education is a fundamental right. If something is basic to education, all kids are entitled.”
The CLSJ event, which was moderated by San Diego ACLU Director David Blair-Loy, was one of the first panel discussions of the new fall semester at TJSL – a semester that promises many great events.
The director of the CLSJ is Thomas Jefferson School of Law Professor Alex Kreit.