LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Unified School District has tentatively agreed to provide millions of dollars in added staff and other resources to 37 underperforming schools to settle a lawsuit brought by the teachers union.
District officials are expected to spend $837 million to help disadvantaged students and improve schools, the Los Angeles Times reported. The district has an overall budget of $6.8 billion, the news company said.
Representatives for both sides said Tuesday the agreement calls for adding school counselors and administrators, establishing a mentor program for teachers and providing other educational resources to schools saddled with high teacher turnover rates, high student drop-out rates and whose students do poorly on state-mandated tests.
“The youth in greatest peril at these schools will benefit tremendously from the additional administrative and teacher support provided under this program,” Superintendent John E. Deasy said in a statement.
The agreement, the result of months of negotiations, resolves a suit brought against the nation’s second-largest school district by the American Civil Liberties Union and United Teachers Los Angeles.
It requires final approval from the court and the Los Angeles Board of Education. The latter is scheduled to consider it at a meeting later this month.
The suit, Reed v. State of California, et al., was filed in 2010 to address troubles that plaintiffs said budget cuts triggered by the Great Recession brought to inner-city schools.
“UTLA recognizes that the agreement for additional resources does not address all of the factors that create high-turnover schools and that all under- resourced sites deserve extra supports,” the union said in a statement. “But this agreement is a step in the right direction. It affirms that resources and support — not attacks on the Education Code, including seniority protections — are the solution for high-needs schools.”
News of the settlement came on the same day as Los Angeles students staged a protest outside the district office. They expressed concern about the neglect of poorer schools, and they brought their desks with them.
Some 375 empty desks blocked a downtown street, stopping traffic for several hours.
Organizers say the number represents how many students drop out of the district’s schools each week.
Protesters want a student voice on the school board, and more funding for English language learners, foster children and low-income students.
The school board said on Tuesday they are working toward including student representatives.
Last year, students, parents and community groups concerned about district officials and police officers making minor infractions a crime won a policy victory.
District officials said they would no longer have school police officers issue tickets to students who are age 12 and under for minor disciplinary matters, such as being tardy to class. Instead, officers or school administrators could use their discretion for a “teachable moment,” The Center for Public Integrity reported.
Students and grassroots organizations have voiced concern that disciplinary policies contribute to the “schools-to-prison” pipeline, in which students enter the criminal justice system.
Community groups also have said that the tickets are largely issued to Black and Latino students in low-income neighborhoods. This ticketing policy, they said, contributes to the student drop out rate.
Equal Voice News contributed to this report.