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Judge Allows Teachers Union Access To Some Information

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By Kavitha Cardoza

A Superior Court judge ruled today that the Washington Teachers Union can have access to some information from D.C. Public Schools regarding the layoffs of more than 250 teachers last October.

At the hearing this morning, lawyers for the WTU and DCPS couldn't agree on anything. At one point Judge Judith Bartnoff looks outside and says "I think we can all at least agree its a beautiful day."

That remark was met with silence.

Lawyers for the WTU wanted three months for discovery, or access to information about the layoffs. They argued D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee manufactured a budget crisis to get rid of teachers. They pointed to recent newspaper articles and blogs which quote Rhee talking about a budget surplus to boost their case.

"No offense to bloggers or journalists," says Judge Bartnoff, "but that's still hearsay." She says she would allow only what she called "very limited discovery."

Bartnoff agrees with lawyers representing the chancellor, saying you make decisions based on information you have at the time and budget information was always in flux. She says even if there was a budget surplus now, it doesn't necessarily mean the layoffs were illegal.

The WTU has two weeks to come up with a list of information it wants from DCPS regarding the status of the budget at the time Rhee made her decision.

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