According to ktbs.com, a broadcast station in Shreveport, each of the Filipino teachers will be receiving $1,300 from Caddo Parish School Board.
Shreveport Times reported that by a 10-2 vote, the Caddo Parish School Board agreed to resolve the issue with the U.S. Department of Labor for $57,380 as party to an issue that relates to Caddo Parish’s responsibility involving Universal Placement International (UPI).
Caddo hired the Filipino teachers in 2008 thru Universal Placement International based in Los Angeles, California, and UPI’s recruiting agents in the Philippines for the “hard-to-fill positions teaching English, Math, Science and Special Education in some Caddo Schools.”
Reached for comment, Atty. Don A. Hernandez, based in Pasadena, California, lawyer for UPI and UPI’s Lourdes Navarro, believes the $57,380 is the balance the Caddo Parish School Board owes the teachers for underpaying them as entry-level teachers when it (board) “did not and refused to give any credit to the teachers for their prior teaching experience and educational degrees when they started.”
“BLAME SHOULD BE ON CADDO PARISH SCHOOL BOARD”
Mr. Hernandez said, “For the record, the blame for the penalty paid by Caddo Parish School District lies entirely with it, not with our clients. Caddo Parish School Board is the only district in the State of Louisiana that did not and refused to give any credit to the teachers for their prior teaching experience and educational degrees when they started.
“Therefore, all the Filipino teachers that worked for the school district got paid the same amount of starting salary, regardless of whether they had any advanced degrees.”
But ktbs.com said the Filipino “teachers also wound up paying immigration fees that should have been paid by Caddo Parish. School Board attorney Reginald Abrams said officials here were not aware they were supposed to pay those fees.”
The Times said, “The School Board seems to have gotten off lightly by settling with 43 teachers who were awarded $1,300 each in a settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor. Previously the board had paid $1,660 to each teacher for appropriate work visas.”
Phone call and email message placed and sent by this reporter to Dr. Mary Nash Robinson, Caddo’s government/community relations officer, seeking comments and a request for a copy of the decision of the U.S. Department of Labor were not answered.
A complaint was earlier filed by the American Federation of Teachers, accusing UPI of exploiting the teachers by holding on their U.S. work visas and forcing them to pay inflated fees.
FILIPINO TEACHERS CAN APPLY FOR GREEN CARD
But the news story did not mention if the U.S. Department of Labor ruled against UPI.
A Filipino teacher, Wayne Domalaon, was quoted as saying that “We just pay and give to that agency (UPI) what they ask of us, so that we will be able to come over here to the U.S.”
Domalaon, who now teaches at Fair Park High School also in Shreveport, added “We didn’t know that we would be treated like this, because we (felt) that (the head of the recruiting agency) is helping us. But we do not know what is her real feeling.”
The money that will be awarded to the 43 Filipino teachers will come from the $400,000 reserve fund set up by the board to handle litigation costs and any settlement agreements associated with the Filipino teachers’ case.
Thirty-eight of the original 43 Filipino teachers continue to work in Caddo schools. Although, their work visas expire in 2013, they can apply for a green card because they are gainfully employed.
Last May, a Baton Rouge civil court district judge in Louisiana has affirmed an administrative judge’s ruling against UPI and UPI’s Lourdes Navarro by ordering UPI to pay an “estimated $1.8 million in illegally charged placement fees, as well as a $500 fine and $7,500 in attorney fees.”
The recruiter allegedly cheated 200 Filipino teachers of thousands of dollars in recruiting fees and held them in virtual servitude for keeping their visas.
Later, the licenses of a Philippine-based recruiter, PARS International Placement, and its U.S.-based partner, Universal Placement International (UPI), Inc., were cancelled by the adjudication office of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) of the Department of Labor and Employment for allegedly overcharging 35 Filipinos recruited as teachers in Louisiana of two months instead of one-month salary in placement fees.
The Filipino teachers filed their complaints separately before the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Washington, D.C., and the Philippine Consul General’s office in Chicago, Illinois two years ago. Three Filipino teachers filed their complaints before POLO’s Welfare Officer, Alberto Adonis C. Duero while two others, one of them included 27 others as fellow complainants, were filed before then Consul General Blesila C. Cabrera in Chicago. (firstname.lastname@example.org)