May 18 2015
For Immediate Release
Atty. Willie M. Zanders, Sr.
NEW ORLEANS, LA - In
an Order issued this morning, the Supreme Court of the United States
refused to give new life the lawsuit of 7500 New Orleans Public School
Employees fired after Hurricane Katrina. However, the employees
plan to file a formal request asking Congress to investigate Louisiana's
use of $500 million in federal funds requested to assist out-of-work
employees after the storm.
Today's decision of the U.S. Supreme Court follows the employees' March
6, 2015 request asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the dismissal
of their case by the Louisiana Supreme Court. Until the case was
dismissed October 21, 2014, the employees had won every legal battle for
nine years, including favorable judgments from the District Court and
Louisiana's Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal. Chief Justice
Bernette Johnson and Justice Jefferson D. Hughes, III of the Louisiana
Supreme Court voted not to dismiss the employees' case.
Attorney Willie Zanders, Lead Counsel for the fired school workers,
issued the following statement:
I thank God for our clients and a super legal team, and still have faith
in God's awesome power! Today, the judicial branch has again failed
7500 citizens, but America has three branches of government. I plan to
ask the legislative branch for a formal congressional hearing regarding
$500 million in federal funds sent to help public school employees after
Katrina, but Louisiana politicians had other plans (i.e., $29 million to
New York financial consultants, $20 million to a school security firm
from Texas, out-of-state buses & food service contracts, etc.). Sadly,
New Orleans' middle class was devastated by the termination of thousands
of public school employees after America's worst natural disaster.
Why did Congress send $500 million to Louisiana? Two weeks after
Hurricane Katrina, September 14, 2005, Louisiana's Superintendent of
Education wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret
Spelling requesting emergency financial assistance for out-of-work
school employees. The letter stated, in part:
"In talking with Florida Department of Education officials about
last year's hurricane issues, we learned that they continued to pay
their staffs and requested that the staff either help to rebuild the
schools, work in a shelter or perform other community work, or deal with
their emergency family situations while their home schools were closed.
This was done for several reasons, but mainly to assist in retaining
staff for when the schools reopened. Of course, they still lost a large
percentage of staff members who found other jobs and/or moved away.
In Louisiana, our situation is much more drastic. Several school systems
are only able to make one more payroll. After that, their employees will
be on unemployment or will need to find other work. These employees are
very concerned with their livelihood, health insurance coverage, and
just being able to cover basic needs..."
What happened to
the $500 million (which is separate and apart from the $1.8 billion FEMA
gave state and local politicians to rebuild public schools---which
should also be investigated) ? The 2012 ruling of the trial judge
stated the following:
"Notwithstanding the State Defendants' representation to the U.S.
Department of Education that it needed over $770 million to pay the
salaries and benefits of out-of work school
employees, and the State Defendants' receipt of over $500 million
dollars in post-Katrina federal "Restart Funds" based upon this
representation, the State Defendants did not ensure that any of this
money was used to pay the salaries or benefits of the Plaintiff Class.
Rather, the State Defendants diverted these funds to the RSD."
Our nation's highest court has closed its door to our demand for
justice, but the "door of moral justice" cannot be locked. Ask, seek and
knock ! Luke 11:9
Willie M. Zanders, Sr.
Click here for Press Release issued on March 12, 2015 published in "New
CONTACT: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Attorney Willie M. Zanders, Sr. January 16, 2014
Office: (504) 247-9761
Cell: (504) 258-7312
[Download Press Release]
Louisiana Court Of Appeal Issues Class Action Ruling In Favor of New
Orleans Public School Employees Fired After Hurricane Katrina
New Orleans, LA
January 15, 2014, a 5-judge panel of the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court
rendered a decision in favor of approximately 7,000 public school
employees who were
wrongfully terminated when the State of Louisiana took control of 107
New Orleans public
schools after Hurricane Katrina. In a unanimous decision, the Fourth
Circuit Court of Appeal
ruled that the former employees “were deprived of their constitutionally
protected property right to be recalled to employment without due
process of law. This violation of due process was committed by the OPSB
in failing to adhere to its policies in implementing the reduction in
force and by the State through the Louisiana Department of Education by
failing to follow the mandates of Act 35.”
In large part, the Court of Appeal affirmed District Court Judge Ethel
20, 2012 Judgment that the Orleans Parish School Board and State of
constitutionally protected property/due process rights of 7,000 public
school employees after
Hurricane Katrina. However, the Court reversed the District Court’s
ruling regarding several
claims, and ordered the District Court to make certain deductions
related to the plaintiffs’ lost
The Class Action applies to all employees who were tenured on August 29,
including principals, teachers, paraprofessionals, central office
administrators, secretaries, social workers and other employees who
provided instructional, administrative, food services, security,
maintenance, transportation and other services.
Statement from Willie M. Zanders, Sr., Class Members’ Lead Counsel:
“We are both humbled and grateful that a unanimous, 5-judge panel of the
Court of Appeals upheld key rulings in the June 20, 2012 judgment
District Court Judge Ethel Simms-Julien. This is a true victory for our
This case has been a difficult and extremely stressful experience for
and their families who suffered after Hurricane Katrina. We pause to pay
respect to all
former employees who did not live to see this important victory, like
Representative Gwendolyn Ridgley who passed in October 2012. Other Class
Representatives and thousands of employees continue to suffer
emotionally, and financially. I am thankful for the patience and prayers
School Board employees and their families, and encourage them to STAY
Attorneys representing Class Members include Willie M. Zanders, Sr.
Suzette Peychaud Bagneris (Liaison Counsel), Rico Alvendia, Anthony
Irpino, Juana Marine
Lombard, Clarence Roby, Larry Samuel, Walter I. Willard, Mark P. Glago,
and Jeremy Pichon. Ms. Eveleyn Battiste serves as Manager of Client
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 12, 2009
M. Zanders , Lead Counsel
Bagneris, Liaison Counsel
Court of Appeal affirms class-action lawsuit on behalf of New Orleans Public School
employees fired after Katrina
On December 10, 2008, Civil District
Court Judge Ethel Simms-Julien certified a class action lawsuit filed on
behalf of more than 8,500 public school employees terminated after the
State of Louisiana took control of
over 100 New Orleans Public Schools after Hurricane Katrina. In a
20-page ruling issued today, the Louisiana
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed the decision of the trial
court. The 3-judge panel was
composed of Judge Edwin A. Lombard, Judge Terri F. Love, and Judge Paul
A. Bonin. Speaking for the
Court, Judge Lombard summarized the court’s ruling:
“After reviewing the record before us, including the petitions, the
arguments of the parties, the testimony at the certification hearing and
the trial court’s reasons for judgment, we find that there was a
sufficient factual basis for the trial court to certify this class.”
This case began on October 28, 2005,
just two months after Hurricane Katrina devastated
New Orleans and the
Coast when three employees
filed a Petition for Injunctive Relief to prevent the Orleans Parish
School Board from terminating their employment, claiming a
violation of their state-mandated due process and
property rights as certified and/or permanent public school employees.
The initial plaintiffs included Eddy Oliver, a public school principal,
Oscarlene Nixon, a para-professional/teacher’s aide, and Mildred
Goodwin, a custodian. The lawsuit was amended to include the State of Louisiana following the State's takeover of
over 100 New Orleans Public Schools effective November 30, 2005. Other "State
Defendants" include the Louisiana State Department of Education and its Recovery School District, and the Louisiana State
Board of Secondary and Elementary Education (BESE). The employees'
initial request for injunctive relief in the form of continued
employment with the new state-run school system was denied, but in a
September 2007 ruling, Judge Julien recognized other “causes of action”
for monetary relief, including wrongful termination and breach of
Subsequently, other terminated employees were added to the lawsuit which
now includes principals,
teachers, paraprofessionals, central office administrators, secretaries,
social workers and other employees who provided instructional,
administrative, food services , security, maintenance, transportation
and other services.
Statement from Willie M. Zanders, Plaintiffs’ Lead
We are very pleased with
the 4th Circuit’s ruling affirming Judge Julien’s decision
certifying the class. This ruling means that 8500 former New Orleans
public school employees who were wrongfully terminated
by the actions of the local
school board and State of Louisiana, will be able to proceed with their
claims together (in one lawsuit) ---- instead of having to file
thousands of individual lawsuits.
Attorney Suzette Bagneris (Liaison
Counsel) and Attorney Anthony Irpino who did an excellent job arguing
the Plaintiffs’ case before the Fourth Circuit on September 30, 2009.
I must also thank Attorneys Walter Willard, Roderick Alvendia, Juana
Marine Lombard, Clarence Roby, Larry Samuel, and Client Relations’
Manager Evelyn Battiste for the outstanding work they have done and will
continue to do until the case ends.
In the course
of the litigation, we discovered documents showing that State Education
officials received over $400 million dollars in emergency congressional
funding to restart public schools in New Orleans and to help
employees who had been placed on “disaster leave” without pay.
Despite receipt of the federal funding, 8,500
Public School employees
were terminated. Many of these employees and their families are still
suffering four years after Hurricane Katrina. However, they have been
very patient as the court system reviews
actions taken by education officials after Katrina.
defendants have the right to ask the Louisiana
Supreme Court to
review this unanimous ruling of the
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal and the Plaintiffs’ attorneys will be
prepared for that undertaking, if they choose to do so.
Thanksgiving 2009 is very special for our clients, their families, and
citizens who are thankful for the invaluable services of public school
court authorizes a class action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of New Orleans Public School
employees terminated after Hurricane Katrina
December 10, 2008
Civil District Court Judge Ethel Simms-Julien issued a
Judgment today that potentially impacts
over 8,500 former employees of the Orleans Parish School Board. The
lawsuit has been filed on behalf of
principals, teachers, paraprofessionals, central office administrators,
secretaries, social workers, and other employees who provided
instructional, administrative, food,
security, maintenance, transportation and other services for 62,000
public school students as of
August 29, 2005
In an 18 page Ruling, Judge Julien certified a lawsuit
to proceed as a class action on behalf of thousands of employees of the
Orleans Parish School Board terminated after Hurricane Katrina.
The ruling will potentially allow over 8,500 former Orleans
Parish School Board employees to seek monetary damages from the Orleans
Parish School Board, the State of Louisiana, and its education agencies for
claims of wrongful termination and breach of contract. Today’s class
certification ruling is a part of the legal process to recover damages
for all eligible former employees.
This case began on October 28, 2005
when several employees filed a Petition for Injunctive Relief to prevent
the Orleans Parish School Board from terminating their employment
claiming a violation of their state-mandated due process and
property rights as certified and/or permanent public school employees.
The lawsuit was amended to include the State of
following the State’s
takeover of over 100 New Orleans Public Schools effective November 30, 2005. Other
“State Defendants” include the Louisiana State Department
Education and its Recovery School District, and the Louisiana State
Board of Secondary and Elementary Education.
The employees’ initial request for injunctive relief in the form
of continued employment with the new state-run school system was denied,
but in a September 2007 ruling, Judge Julien recognized other “causes of
action” for monetary relief including wrongful termination and breach of
In the course of the litigation, attorneys for the plaintiffs discovered
a letter showing that on September 14, 2005, just two weeks after
Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana’s
Superintendent of Education requested over $2 billion dollars in
emergency federal aid to pay out of work employees and to restart public
schools devastated by the storm.
State Education officials subsequently received over $445 million
dollars in emergency congressional funding to restart public schools.
Despite receipt of the federal funding, 8,500
New Orleans Public School employees were terminated.
The attorneys representing the OPSB’s terminated
employees are Willie M. Zanders,
Sr. Larry Samuel, Suzette Bagneris, Roderick Alvendia, Anthony D. Irpino,
Juana Marine Lombard, Clarence Roby, and Walter I. Willard. Evelyn
Battiste serves as Manager of Client Relations.
“While this has been and will continue to be a long, hard-fought battle,
we are taking a moment to be thankful for this very important victory on
behalf of the patient and remarkable clients that we serve,” says Willie
M. Zanders, Sr., Lead Counsel.
website site has been established at
to provide further information.