Ckaris Williams, a New Orleans teacher and Katrina evacuee, prepares her classroom to receive students from New Orleans in Houston, Texas in 2005. Photo: Dave Einsel/Getty Images
Fri, Jan 17, 2014 4:46 PM EST

New Orleans teachers who lost their jobs in the wake of Hurricane Katrina were wrongfully terminated and deserve two to three years of back pay, an appeals court ruled on Thursdsay. The ruling affects more than 7,000 teachers who were fired and comes after years of legal wrangling, The Times-Picayune reported.

Katrina catalyzed the ground-up remaking of the New Orleans public school system, of which the mass layoffs of thousands of teachers was just one part. The layoffs also destabilized neighborhoods. 

From The Times-Picayune:

Beyond the individual employees who were put out, the mass layoff has been a lingering source of pain for those who say school system jobs were an important component in maintaining the city's black middle class. New Orleans' teaching force has changed noticeably since then. More young, white teachers have come from outside through groups such as Teach for America. And charter school operators often offer private retirement plans instead of the state pension fund, which can discourage veteran teachers who have years invested in the state plan.

Though many schools have made a conscious effort to hire pre-Katrina teachers and New Orleans natives, eight years later, people still come to public meetings charging that outside teachers don't understand the local students' culture.

Read the rest at the Times-Picayune.