Lawyers for famed teacher Rafe Esquith filed a class action suit against the Los Angeles school district soon after the school board decided to begin termination proceedings against him. Esquith is suing on behalf of himself and 2,000 other teachers who claim that they were wrongfully accused and removed from their classrooms.

“Esquith’s suit accuses administrators of abusing disciplinary measures to push out older teachers so the district doesn’t have to pay them retirement benefits, including pensions and health care.

It alleges Esquith’s treatment fits a pattern: that teachers nearing retirement age are abruptly removed from their classrooms and placed in what teachers and their union refer to as “teacher jail” — essentially spending time in an office or at home awaiting the outcome of investigations that often lead to firings….

Geragos [his lawyer] told reporters at a news conference that more than 1,000 teachers have sent emails saying they, too, had been subjected to teacher jail. And, he said, Esquith’s former students have complained about how they’ve been questioned by the district’s investigators.

Geragos said the district employs “an investigative hit squad that goes out and intimidates and tried to extract statements from students that they then can use for kangaroo court-type proceedings.”

“I’m calling for the complete shutdown of LAUSD,” Geragos said. He described the district as “a corrupt organization” that has smeared Esquith’s reputation through “scurrilous and scandalous leaks.”

Thursday’s suit seeks to grant Esquith legal status as a “whistleblower” and follows months of failed negotiations and heated rhetoric over his case.