(See Beth Barrett's report on how layoffs are devastating L.A.'s city schools in Thursday's LA Weekly).

A day after Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa decried layoffs at a trio of struggling area public schools as discriminatory, a judge blocked the teacher cuts at the campuses, siding with an ACLU lawsuit's claims.

The Wednesday ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Highberger puts a halt to teacher and staff layoffs at Gompers, Liechty and Markham middle schools. The ACLU had argued that the cuts deprived students of their civil rights, taking more experienced teachers from classrooms and replacing them with younger, less-experienced ones (or simply leaving positions vacant).

“These middle schools have been hit hard by teacher layoffs that have resulted in having teachers who are not trained to teach in the areas in which they are assigned; decimated the schools' ability to train and mentor teachers because of high turnover; and reduced the quality of education because of the high number of substitute teachers and lack of

stability in the classroom,” reads a Tuesday statement from the mayor's office.

The mayor is a longtime union backer, but he has a lot of influence on the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District and his choice, Ramon Cortines, is superintendent. Thus, Villaraigosa seemingly has irons in both sides of this fire.

The teachers' union, United Teachers Los Angeles, is in a bitter battle with the district over layoffs. The district is looking at a deficit — $640 million — that is larger than that of embattled L.A. City Hall.

-With reporting from City News Service. Got news? Email us.

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