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So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

LA schools' proposed budget includes $36 million in spending to settle suit

Desks placed outside of L.A. Unified headquarters a head of April board meeting. Advocacy groups wants more money to high needs schools in effort to increase academic performance and graduation rates.
Desks placed outside of L.A. Unified headquarters a head of April board meeting. Advocacy groups wants more money to high needs schools in effort to increase academic performance and graduation rates. Annie Gilbertson/KPCC

Part of Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy's budget proposal includes spending $36 million to beef up staff at 37 schools to settle a lawsuit brought by advocacy groups accusing the school system of short-changing poor schools.

RELATED: Students line LA street with desks in protest

The Reed v. State of California settlement was announced at Tuesday's school board meeting where the superintendent presented his $6.8 billion budget proposal, which calls for sending 147 teachers, counselors and support staff to a list of schools in low-income neighborhoods.

"These are 37 of the most highly impacted schools in all of LAUSD," Superintendent John Deasy told the board Tuesday. "They have students with high needs, higher teacher turnover, new, younger — in terms of career —teachers."

The suit was brought in 2010 by the ACLU, Public Counsel and Morrison & Foerster LLP on behalf of students, claiming some of the district's neediest schools disproportionately lost teachers and other staffers in recession-era layoffs.

The suit has stayed in court, weathering several appeals.

As part of the settlement, announced Tuesday, schools on the list will receive extra support for special education programs and more training. Each Reed school will get an instructional specialist and a counselor — two more staffers than most schools will receive as part of the district's budget increase of $332 million in funds next year.

"They are getting a proportionately large increase in investments," Deasy said. "That's the a first step as we think about other schools with high needs."

"LAUSD’s commitment to these 37 schools is also a promise to every student it serves: you and your teachers deserve the dignity and support to be successful," said Erin Darling, a staff attorney at Public Counsel, one of the firms representing the plaintiffs.  “As school districts across California adopt the new Local Control Funding Formula, the Reed settlement represents a path to stability and long-term success for schools that have too little of both.”

The school board is expected to finalize the settlement at their closed session meeting April 22.

Deasy's overall budget proposal allocates funds for 1,210 new staffing positions, far fewer than some board members have advocated for.  The school board has yet to approve the budget, but unanimously voiced support for the superintendent's initial steps when he unveiled it at Tuesday's board meeting.

New staffers will be placed at the "Reed" and other high-need schools first as California's new Local Control Funding Formula mandates districts spend the funds to help low-income and foster youth as well as those still learning English.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that United Teachers Los Angeles was one of the original parties to the lawsuit. In fact, UTLA became involved later, when it filed an appeal to preserve teacher seniority protections. KPCC regrets the error.

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