Wednesday, October 28, 2009

USA Today slams Filipino teacher recruiter and local school officials

USA Today reporter Greg Toppo and Shreveport Times reporter Icess Fernandez collaborate in this story to bring readers the most complete account to date of the ordeal faced by Filipino teachers in thrall to an unscrupulous recruiter.

They are among the first reporters to get an interview with one of the teachers, who have been reticent because they fear retribution from Lourdes Navarro, the notoriously litigious recruiter at the heart of the scandal.

Navarro declined to be interviewed for this story, as she has for all the others that appeared after LFT filed complaints with the Louisiana Attorney General and Workforce Commission.

Aside from the personal interest angle documenting the trauma experienced by the Filipino teachers, Toppo and Fernandez explore the possibility that some Louisiana school officials were complicit in Navarro's scheme:

If they violated state or federal labor laws, the districts could face
substantial penalties: Federal law says they could be on the hook for millions
in fees. Already, the Caddo Parish school district in northwestern Louisiana has
agreed to pay $1,660 to each of the district's 43 teachers recruited by
Universal — and has reserved $400,000 for "reimbursement for any potential
claims sustained" by teachers.

Clearly, this will not be the last story about the unfolding scandal.

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