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Hawaii 'Furlough Fridays' May Prompt Lawsuit on Behalf of Spec. Ed. Students

Hawaii's plan to reduce costs by closing public schools for 17 "furlough" Fridays this year may prompt a federal class action on behalf of special education students, reports the Honolulu Advertiser.

"While we are not anxious to file a lawsuit," Eric Seitz, a Honolulu lawyer, told the paper, he will go to federal court this week seeking an injunction to halt the furloughs unless the Department of Education stops the plan. The article said that parents, worried about less classroom instruction and child-care issues, have protested the furlough plan.

In September, members of the Hawaii State Teachers Association ratified a two-year contract with the state that includes 17 furlough days a year for teachers on 10-month contracts and 21 days for teachers on 12-month contracts. The first furlough Friday is set for this week, the article said.

"During the past four weeks, the Hawaii State Department of Education has been working diligently to prepare students, parents, employees and the community for the upcoming furlough days," Superintendent Pat Hamamoto told the paper in a statement. "During this difficult economic period for our state, the department is utilizing the resources it has to provide classroom instruction and services for our students."

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