Judge rules on motions in employee class action against OPSB

By Alejandro de los Rios | Sep 27, 2010

Judge Ethel Julien denied the state's motion to quash subpoenas sent to school superintendents in St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Plaquemines, Washington and Jefferson parishes regarding the effects on those school boards following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Julien ruled Sept. 24 in Orleans Parish Civil District Court on various motions in a class action suit brought by former school employees against the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) and the Louisiana State Board of Education.

New Orleans principal Eddy Oliver, teacher's aide Oscarlene Nixon and OPSB custodian Mildred Goodwin lead the class of 7,500 current and former OPSB employees who claim they were wrongfully terminated after most of New Orleans' public schools were flooded during Katrina.

The OPSB filed a motion for exception of vagueness, claiming the plaintiffs did not list a specific act of conspiracy in their cause of action in a fifth supplemental petition.

Julien denied the motion but also ruled that no more petitions are to be filed by the plaintiffs.

Julien also ruled in a consent judgment on the final motion by the plaintiffs to finalize a case management order to approve a master list of possible class members for notification purposes.

New Orleans attorney Willie Zanders is representing the class in this suit.

Assistant Attorney General Brent Hicks is representing the state on behalf of its school boards.

New Orleans attorney Renee Smith is representing the OPSB.

This case was originally filed as an injunctive relief for Oliver, Nixon and Goodwin, in which they claimed that the OPSB's proposed plan to turn several of its schools into quasi-charter schools would "end public schools in New Orleans."

The initial request, which essentially asked that teachers that were hired by the OPSB be retained in schools that were taken over by the RSD, was denied. But in a September 2007 ruling, Julien acknowledged other causes of action including wrongful termination and breach of contract.

In December 2008, Julien certified the class as "all current or former employees of the OPSB prior to Hurricane Katrina." The class includes principals, teachers, paraprofessionals, central office administrators, secretaries, social works, food service, maintenance and other service workers that had been hired by the OPSB.

Orleans Parish Case 2005-12244

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