THE CASE: In the runup to our 2019 strike, UTLA members vehemently and repeatedly questioned the hedge-fund business background of the incoming superintendent, Austin Beutner, hired by the district in May 2018. There was a grave concern at the time that under his leadership, the district would be further privatized and that community needs would be overlooked.

The Chapter Chair at Ambassador School of Global Leadership, Mike McGroarty, responded to an email sent to all LAUSD employees by Beutner in September 2018 with a meme McGroarty attempted to email to all recipients (including the superintendent), questioning Beutner’s qualifications and commitment to public education. For that, the district non-reelected McGroarty, who was at that time a probationary teacher, and LAUSD terminated his district employment in June 2019.

THE VERDICT: UTLA and McGroarty protested the firing at the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), and won. An Administrative Law Judge ruled that the district retaliated against McGroarty for activity protected under the Education Employment Relations Act and ordered the district to reinstate him and provide him with permanent status, grant him backpay, and post notices announcing that decision to all employees represented by UTLA. The district didn’t appeal the ruling and has now paid the backpay owed from its unlawful conduct.

“In an era of authoritarian mandates and increased restrictions on free speech, it’s great to know that union teachers still have the right to criticize LAUSD bureaucrats for what they really are: a threat to the education of the next generation,” McGroarty said.