"Disgusting and an affront to basic American values." That's how LFT President Steve Monaghan characterizes the treatment of Filipino nationals teaching in Louisiana. The villain in this case is the recruiting agency that extracts huge fees from teachers in The Philippines, and continues to drain their paychecks after they are hired by Louisiana school systems.
(Jefferson Federation of Teachers President Meladie Munch, left, and United Teachers of New Orleans President Larry Carter explain how Filipino teachers recruited by Universal Placement International are faring in their local school systems.)
The charges involve multiple violations of state and federal laws. Attorneys for AFT and LFT said the union is asking that the teachers’ contracts with the California-based recruiter be voided, and that the recruiter be criminally prosecuted under state law.
Lourdes “Lulu” Navarro, the president of recruiting firm Universal Placement International, is a convicted felon who has served jail time in California and was also convicted of crimes in New Jersey. After treating some Louisiana school officials to Philippine Island junkets, she was allowed to recruit more than 200 teachers for Louisiana schools.
Each teacher recruited to work in Louisiana was charged about $15,000 by Navarro to obtain a job, and was then required to sign over 10 percent of the monthly salary to UPI for two years. The total amounted to some 37% of the teachers’ salary.
Teachers who could not afford to pay the fees up front were directed to loan companies by Navarro, and were charged exorbitant interest rates.
The story, revealed by LFT at press conferences in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, is available on the Federation Web site.
LFT's revelations were widely reported by the news media, including this story by Advocate reporter Will Sentell; this one by New Orleans Times-Picayune reporter Sarah Carr; and this story by Shreveport Times reporter Icess Fernandez.