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Jones Walker Scores Legal Victory for New Orleans Public Schoolchildren
August 12, 2004
New Orleans, Louisiana

Jones Walker has scored another success on behalf of the schoolchildren of the City of New Orleans. On August 4 , following a July 29 trial, the court issued a permanent injunction that prohibited the School Board from making any attempt to terminate the a popular parish-wide public schools superintendent without a showing of cause. Previously, on June 4, Jones Walker obtained a temporary restraining order prohibiting the Orleans Parish School Board from wrongfully terminating the superintendent. In bringing a high-profile federal lawsuit on behalf of two School Board members, Una Anderson and Jimmy Fahrenholtz, Jones Walker provided its attorneys’ and staff’s time pro bono and ultimately stopped the Board majority from taking hasty action to fire the superintendent, Anthony Amato, in violation of his due process rights. On August 4, United States District Judge G. Thomas Porteous also ruled that a clause in Mr. Amato’s employment contract that permitted the Board unilaterally to terminate the superintendent, without a hearing, notice, or a cause showing, was invalid.

Superintendent Amato began his term with the Orleans Parish School System in early 2003 amid controversy over alleged corruption and poor academic performance. Just two months before the Board’s action to remove him (and one year into his job), the Board gave Superintendent Amato an excellent performance review. Many New Orleanians view Mr. Amato as a force of hope for the historically troubled public school system.

In an August 6 editorial titled, “Reason Prevails,” the Times-Picayune lauded the plaintiffs for putting a halt to the abrupt Board action, which was linked to unfounded suspicions that Superintendent Amato was behind state legislative efforts to protect his position from excessive Board interference. The editorial also touted Jones Walker for its bold and successful effort and for “generously providing free legal work.”

The firm also received prominent mention in a July 14 article that appeared in Education Week, the American education community’s newspaper of record. The article chronicled the federal court injunction case, the School Board’s actions, and the events that unfolded in the Louisiana Legislature as that body and Governor Kathleen Blanco moved quickly to enact Act 193, relative to school districts, such as Orleans Parish’s, that are designated “academically in crisis.”

The comprehensive Education Week article quoted Jones Walker litigation partner Andy Lee, who along with Labor Relations and Employment partner Jennifer Anderson, headed the Jones Walker team.

Jones Walker's lawyers bring the same dedication, zeal and success to their communities, pro bono and public-service work that they bring to all their clients. In addition to Mr. Lee and Ms. Anderson, Jones Walker's team included Coleman Ridley, Corinne Hufft, Matt Brown, Shelley Sullivan, Joseph Lavigne and Amanda Jones, as well as paralegals Amanda Arbelle and Rhonda Betbeze.