Thousands of New Orleans school employees were wrongfully fired after Hurricane Katrina scattered the populations and shut down the city and its schools, a Louisiana judge ruled Wednesday.
Judge Ethel Simms Julien awarded more than $1 million to seven people who filed the class-action suit against the New Orleans school board and the state. Her decision cleared the way for more damages to be awarded to an estimated 7,000 others in future proceedings.
It was not immediately clear whether the defendants — including the Orleans Parish School Board, the state Department of Education and the state itself — would appeal. An attorney for the school board said he would discuss the matter with his client. The state Attorney General's Office said it would consult with lawyers the state hired for the case.
The ruling comes almost seven years after levee breaches during the storm caused 80 percent of the city to flood.