FROM Mark Rosenbaum
Is there a constitutional right to literacy? Students in some Detroit schools say they’re being cheated out of an education. Are they being deprived of a right guaranteed by the Constitution? Some Detroit schools lack desks, teachers or books and their students have a literacy rate that’s under 10 percent. Now a pro-bono law firm in Southern California wants the courts to extend Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark US Supreme Court Case of 1954. Mark Rosenbaum was formerly with the ACLU of Southern California. Now with the pro-bono law firm Public Counsel , he says the Michigan lawsuit is the first of its kind in the US.
Compton Students Sue School District Students have filed a lawsuit against Compton school district for neglecting to offer special needs education to those who’ve undergone trauma. Students say the district is breaking the law by not providing the students with a fair shot at an education.
VA Settles Lawsuit over West LA Land Use 400 acres of West LA was dedicated to American veterans in 1888. Now, LA County has more homeless veterans than any place else in the country—some 4200 people. But it wasn’t until yesterday that the Veterans’ Administration announced settlement of a lawsuit demanding that they be housed on that property. The agreement is expected to produce what’s called an “exit strategy” for a hotel laundry, athletic facilities for a private school, and UCLA’s baseball field—all of which have been paying rent to the VA. Robert McDonald became Secretary of the Veteran’s Administration last July. Negotiations began last month.
Are California Public Schools Giving Up On Their Students? Some 20,000 California “students cannot afford to wait any longer.” That’s according to the US Justice Department, which has backed the ACLU in a lawsuit against the state’s elected Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torklakson, and the Department of Education. The 20,000 kids are English learners who, allegedly, are not getting any of the services required by federal law or the State Constitution.
Should VA Property Be Used for Veterans Only? Los Angeles County has the most homeless veterans of any place in the country: 6,300 by the latest count. It also has 387 highly valuable acres of property in West Los Angeles, on the fringe of Westwood near UCLA. They are supposed to be used for veterans' healthcare — and they do include a big hospital. But other parts of the property are in dispute, and a federal judge has ruled that the VA has leased them for purposes "totally divorced from the provision of healthcare."
ACLU Suit Charges Cooley with Withholding Evidence The elected Sheriff and District Attorney of Los Angeles County are being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union , charged with concealing information about misconduct by law enforcement officers — specifically Sheriff Lee Baca's deputies in County jails. A state bar complaint has been filed against the DA, Steve Cooley. The ACLU's Mark Rosenbaum says, "We have a system of injustice for all criminal defendants."
Seniority Rules and Equal Rights in LA's Public Schools Because of the economic crunch, the Los Angeles Unified School District was forced to lay off teachers last year, and that’s certain to happen again. State law mandates that the last teacher hired must be the first fired. In February, the American Civil Liberties Union went to court , claiming that the seniority rule was depriving some kids of their constitutional right to an equal education. Now, the elected School Board has approved what Mayor Villaraigosa calls a “ landmark agreement ” that protects some 45 under-performing schools from lay-offs. The teachers’ union may challenge the deal .
Layoffs and Seniority in the LAUSD Last week, Judge William Highberger ruled that teacher lay-offs planned for three inner-city middle schools would deprive students of their constitutional right to an equal education. Gompers, Markham and Liechty are three of the lowest performing schools in LA Unified. Because the state budget crisis requires cuts, the District sent pink-slips to between 46 and 60% of their teachers. In more affluent neighborhoods, the average was less than 15%. The judge found that educational opportunity would decline disproportionately and ordered the District to find a better way. But it’s not going to be easy because of seniority rules.
Ex-FBI Director Comey tells his side of the story Today, former FBI Director James Comey came close to calling the President who fired him a liar. The White House denied the claim and called it insulting, but Republican Senators did not challenge Comey’s truthfulness. Many questions remain: did the President try to obstruct a federal investigation? Later, we’ll go behind the “velvet rope” for a look at 5-Star health care for the richest Americans.