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California School Employees Association v. Torrance Unified School District

March 11, 2010

CALIFORNIA SCHOOL EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION ET AL., PLAINTIFFS AND APPELLANTS,
v.
TORRANCE UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT ET AL., DEFENDANTS AND RESPONDENTS.



APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, William G. Willett, Judge. Affirmed. (Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. YS017691).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kitching, J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

INTRODUCTION

The California School Employees Association, its Torrance Chapter Nos. 19 and 845, and its members Roberta Belyea and Anna San Roman (collectively the union) contend that Torrance Unified School District, its governing board, and its superintendent George Mannon (collectively the district) violated Education Code section 45203*fn1 by failing to pay regular wages to classified employees*fn2 who did not work on staff development student free days. The superior court denied the union's petition for a writ of mandate and entered judgment for the district. We affirm.

FACTS

The material facts are undisputed. In the 2006-2007 school year, the district provided 180 days of instruction to students on Mondays through Fridays from September 7, 2006, to June 21, 2007. School was closed and no credentialed teachers worked on Saturdays, Sundays, state- wide school holidays, and local school holidays designated by the district pursuant to section 37220, subdivision (a)(13), namely the days before and after Thanksgiving, winter break from December 22, 2006, to January 5, 2007, and spring break from April 9 to April 13, 2007.

Teachers were paid for working 185 days from September 5, 2006, to June 22, 2007. In addition to the 180 instructional days when students were present, teachers worked on September 5, 2006, two days before classes started, and June 22, 2007, the day after classes ended. Teachers also worked on three staff development student free days, also known as in-service days, which were on September 6, 2006, October 9, 2006, and February 2, 2007. In-service days were not state-wide or local school holidays.

Different classified employees worked a different number of days depending on their classification. For example, adult education instructional assistants were paid for 167 days, while child development instructors were paid for between 231 and 235 days, depending on the location they worked.

This case involves three categories of classified employees-paraeducators, instructional assistants, and educational assistants-special education ASSISTT. These employees were not paid on the second and third staff development student free days on October 9, 2006 and February 2, 2007.*fn3

ISSUE

The essential issue in this case is whether the classified employees who did not work on staff development student free days on October 9, 2006 and February 2, 2007, are entitled to be paid regular wages for those days pursuant to section 45203.

DISCUSSION

1. Standard of Review

" `A traditional writ of mandate under Code of Civil Procedure section 1085 is a method for compelling a public entity to perform a legal and usually ministerial duty.' " (American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees v. Metropolitan Water Dist. (2005) 126 Cal.App.4th 247, 261.) Although a writ of mandate is generally not available in proceedings involving wage claims by school district employees, it is a proper remedy in this case "because the underlying dispute concerns the proper construction of section 45203 giving rise to the ...


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