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About NOPSE JUSTICE

The most recent information on the case was posted on November 17, 2014.  To view the latest information, please click "Current Status and Developments" and "Frequently Asked Questions" on this website.

We have established this website in order to provide information to New Orleans Public School employees who were terminated after Hurricane Katrina.

Over 8,500 permanent and tenured highly qualified and dedicated public school employees - including school principals, certified teachers, counselors, social workers, secretaries, para-educators, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and central office personnel – lost their jobs.

These employees are now fighting back.  A lawsuit was filed in the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, against the Orleans Parish School Board and various State Defendants (the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, State Department of Education and the Recovery School District). The purpose of the lawsuit: to challenge the unlawful termination of these dedicated tenured employees whose employment rights were ignored and violated.

We are honored to serve as the interim committee of attorneys representing former NOPS employees in this historic lawsuit. The plaintiff's interim legal committee is comprised of the following attorneys:

  • Willie M. Zanders, Sr. (Lead Attorney)

  • Suzette Peychaud-Bagneris (Liaison Counsel)

  • Rico Alvendia

  • Anthony Irpino

  • Juana Marine-Lombard

  • Clarence Roby

  • Larry Samuel

  • Walter I. Willard


Important points about the NOPSE JUSTICE lawsuit

  • Our lawsuit relates to the wrongful termination of 8,600 employees after Hurricane Katrina.

  • Our lawsuit is not related to any other class action lawsuits that have been filed against OPSB.

  • Our lawsuit is not related to the "Sabbatical/Sick Leave" class action lawsuit filed by the United Teachers of New Orleans (UTNO) against the Orleans Parish School Board.

  • Additionally, some OPSB employees have received a letter from attorney Jack Harang. His class action lawsuit involves claims relating to unpaid overtime for certain school board employees during the time period 2001-2004, which was prior to Katrina. His lawsuit has nothing to do with ours.

  • FOR THE ONLY ACCURATE INFORMATION ABOUT THE LAWSUIT PERTAINING TO THE WRONGFUL TERMINATION/KATRINA LAWSUIT, PLEASE REGULARLY CHECK WITH THIS WEBSITE.

  • Notice: For recent updates, please go to "Current Status and Developments" and "Frequently Asked Questions."


Legal rights before Katrina

As early as October 2005 (just weeks after Hurricane Katrina), a group of New Orleans Public School employees began challenging the fact that the Orleans Parish School Board ignored a state law which would have allowed them to transfer to 13 newly established Charter Schools which would be supported entirely with public funds. The School Board violated its own policy and well-established state laws which protected the employment rights of permanent/tenured employees.

The original named plaintiffs in this case included the following permanent/tenured employees: Eddy Oliver, a certified teacher and the principal of Ernest N. Morial Public Elementary School with over 30 years of service to students in New Orleans; Oscarlene Nixon, a nationally certified para-educator at McDonogh 28 Public Elementary School, with 27 years of service to students in New Orleans Public Schools; and Mildred Goodwin, a custodian at the School Board’s Central Office with 28 years of service to New Orleans Public Schools. These dedicated public servants were not only concerned about themselves but all pre-Katrina employees. Other plaintiffs have since been added to the lawsuit. ALL permanent/tenured employees who were employed by the Orleans Parish School Board as of August 29, 2005 (Hurricane Katrina) may contact us to obtain more information abut joining this lawsuit.

A pre-Katrina political agenda:
After Hurricane Katrina, the Defendants (local and state education officials) took arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable actions in the aftermath of a national disaster to enact legislation that abrogated the plaintiffs’ employment rights and “property rights.” Political newcomers to the OPSB used Hurricane Katrina as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to carry out an old political agenda to abolish the New Orleans Public School System as it existed before Hurricane Katrina, and replace it with quasi-private, Charter Schools, using public funds.

Effective November 30, 2005, the Louisiana Legislature passed a law known as “Act 35” which resulted in the State takeover of 107 public schools in New Orleans---with the publicly stated intent to authorize national Charter School operators to take over these schools. Of the 50 State-controlled public schools which reopened nearly a year after Hurricane Katrina, 31 became Charter Schools and 18 were operated by a new State-controlled agency called the “Recovery School District.” It was no surprise that State education officials also refused to allow even tenured pre-Katrina NOPS employees to transfer to the 18 state-run public schools.  They seized an inopportune time…a tragedy…to advance their political agendas.

The combined actions of the local and state education boards threatened the economic and personal survival of 7,500 public school employees and their families. The establishment of 31 quasi-private, publicly funded Charter Schools threatened the future of a public education system in New Orleans. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, these employees enjoyed a property right in their employment guaranteed to them under Louisiana’s Constitution and several State statutes. The storm took their homes but local and state education officials took their jobs. 

Facts that haven’t been publicized…

Court documents and testimony show that 88 of the 120 NOPS schools met or exceeded their state-required School Performance Score (SPS) for the 2004-05 School Year (just prior to Hurricane Katrina) but this fact has not been reported in the media. Nor has it been reported that immediately after the storm, Louisiana State Department of Education officials changed the definition of an acceptable School Performance Score from “60” to “88” which allowed the takeover of 107 NOPS schools---- leaving the local school board with only five (5) schools post-Katrina.

Important court rulings in this case:

On January 31, 2006, a Civil District Court Judge issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) enjoining and restraining the Orleans Parish School Board from terminating 7,500 pre-Katrina employees until they were afforded their due process rights under Orleans Parish School Board policy and Louisiana law. That ruling was upheld by a second District Court Judge, and the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Louisiana. Although the employees were eventually terminated by the Orleans Parish School Board on March 24, 2006, there were still many unresolved legal issues.

  On December 8, 2006, Civil District Court Judge Ethel Simms-Julien ruled that tenured/permanent employees terminated as a result of the November 30, 2005 State takeover of 107 New Orleans Public Schools have a “Right of Action” to sue several State Defendants including the State Department of Education, the Recovery School District and the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

  On September 21, 2007, Civil District Court Judge Ethel Simms-Julien denied a request made by the State Defendants to have the case thrown out after the State Defendants claimed that the plaintiffs failed to state a “cause of action.” The Judge ruled that the plaintiffs met the appropriate legal standard to state a cause of action regarding various claims made in the lawsuit.

On November 27, 2007, a 3-Judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal upheld Judge Simms-Julien’s ruling.

On February 15, 2008, the Supreme Court of Louisiana denied the Writ Application made by the State Defendants.

On March 8, 2007, a 3-Judge panel of the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal upheld the December 8, 2006 Judgment rendered by the Civil District Court.

Please go to "Current Status and Developments" and "Frequently Asked Questions" for updates  beyond 2007.


A few words about rumors.

There is a rumor circulating that the “case has settled.” This is false. The case has not been settled. In fact, because of class action requirements, no case can be settled until all potential members of the class receive notice of a proposed settlement and are given the opportunity to object. We are pleased about our preliminary or pre-trial victories regarding various motions and procedural matters, but there are no settlement discussions.

It isn’t going to be possible for us to respond to every rumor. So we ask a favor: if someone gives you information about the case, please ask them for the source. and periodically check our website to obtain accurate information. Please go to the website page entitled "Current Status & Latest Information." If the information isn’t on the website, or if you haven’t received information from one of the attorneys or the court, then the rumor is just that: a "rumor”.  
 

NOPSE JUSTICE
P.O. Box 56068
New Orleans, Louisiana 70156-6068
mail@nopsejustice.com

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