New Orleans Public School Educators Awarded $1.3 Million

Seven New Orleans school administrators and teachers, fired in the wake of Hurricane Katrina were awarded $1,362, 632 in lost wages and benefits on June 20 by a Louisiana Court, capping a seven-year class action lawsuit battle waged by a legal team that included AFSA’s lawyers.

“This is an exciting day for all of us in AFSA. Especially for our members of the Professional Administrators of New Orleans Public Schools Inc. (PANOPSI), AFSA Local 17, who were victims of a grievous injustice,” said AFSA President Diann Woodard after learning of Judge Ethel Simms Julien’s ruling.  “We had high hopes for a ruling in our favor and the Louisiana Court came through by ruling against the massive wrongdoing perpetrated by the state of Louisiana.”

Three weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005, the New Orleans public school system was effectively wiped out and replaced with charter schools when over 7,500 administrators and teachers were summarily fired due to a “Disaster Relief Without Pay” provision that the court ruled did not exist. Seven of these New Orleans educators have now received compensation for their wrongful termination due, in part, to AFSA’s support, setting a pattern for the 7000 plus class members whose damages will be similarly calculated.

“We are proud of AFSA’s ability to respond to the needs of our members in every local throughout our country,” said Woodard. “The ability to maintain solidarity during a crisis is what makes our union strong.  Expressing that strength to those who would take away the rights of American educators is our passion and our calling.”

Look for more coverage of this story in the upcoming summer issue of The Leader.