Teachers' pay raise class settlement taken under advisement

Alejandro de los Rios Jun. 21, 2010, 2:54am


Judge Sidney Cates IV took under advisement a motion June 18 to determine the distribution of settlement funds in a class action suit filed by teachers against the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) in Orleans Parish Civil District Court.

Angelyn Mills, Diane Nzinga and the United Teachers of New Orleans filed a class action suit against the OPSB in 2003 after they were denied pay raises mandated by Louisiana State Act 1341 which amended Louisiana Revised Statute 17:1202.

New Orleans attorney Charles Samuel III is representing the class.

New Orleans attorneys John Etter and Regina Bartholomew are representing the OPSB. New Orleans attorney Donesia Turner began as defendant counsel but withdrew in July 2005.

As part of a settlement agreement on April 25, 2005, the OPSB authorized the payment of the full sum of $6,844,433.67 that was saved as a result of Act 1341 to eligible members of the class. The payments were to be made in two installments, the first at with the first payroll of September 2005 and the second with the last payroll of December 2005.

Act 1341 cut down on the amount of sick leave given to teachers and imposed additional requirements on teachers applying for extended sick leave in exchange for a pay raise for all Parish School Boards in Louisiana with the monies saved by the amendments.

In November 2009, the OPSB filed a memorandum in opposition of the plaintiff's motion for final approval of the settlement and distribution of funds, looking to be refunded $2.4 million of the unclaimed settlement funds.

The motion stated that less than 60% of eligible class members claimed compensation and, as a result, the "3,057 claimants who submitted a proof of claim form would improperly receive a windfall and be paid forty percent or more above the amount each person is owed.

After a hearing in December 2009, Judge Cates signed a consent judgment itemizing the partial distribution of settlement funds for different categories of the eligible class members. The OPSB voted against the consent judgment and re-urged their original motion.

Orleans Parish Case 2003-01560

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