Los Angeles high school students started the third week of school with a walk out Monday morning to draw attention to continued problems with a new district-wide scheduling system they said keeps them trapped in the auditorium or in classes they've already taken.
"They have us in the auditorium every day, all day. We get different schedules every day. They need to stop. They need to give us the right classes," said Tatyana Sims, 17, a senior at Jefferson High School in South Los Angeles. She said her schedule Monday was composed entirely of classes she'd already taken and passed.
"We're wasting time," she added. "They don't listen to us."
L.A. Unified School District administrators issued a public statement acknowledging they had to make changes to Jefferson's "master schedule" last week because it was causing problems.
"We learned that parts of the previous schedule were unacceptable: all Advanced Placement classes were slotted in the same period, limiting students’ access to a college curriculum," read the statement, attributed to Tommy Chang of L.A. Unified's intensive support and innovation center. "The same was true for core content classes for English Learners, limiting their access to various subjects as all were scheduled at the same time."
School officials did not address the students' larger complaints about the new computer attendance and scheduling system, MiSis, which was rolled out this year.
The problems started the first day of school, Aug. 12. Students had to camp out in auditoriums, cafeterias and libraries as principals struggled to schedule them for classes. Within days, administrators told teachers to stop using the system and take attendance by hand.
As teachers and students loudly complained the first week of school, district officials said they anticipated there would be challenges and that problems would be worked out in the coming weeks. They maintained fewer than 1 percent of the L.A. Unified's 650,000 students have been affected by scheduling issues under the new system.
That's wasn't the case at Jefferson high, students said. One after another complained most of their classes were incorrect and the fixes were taking too long.
"We cannot get an education like that," said Maria Valle, 16, a junior, one of hundreds of students gathered in a fenced patio chanting: Change! Now! "Teachers are starting lessons over and over and that's not right."
A passing semi-truck honked and students erupted in cheers.
An unidentified school official on a bull horn told students walking out will just slow down the process of fixing their schedules and urged them to return to the school where staff can help them sort it out.