Top Los Angeles Unified administrators met with school staff at Jefferson High in south Los Angeles Thursday after a judge ordered they come up with a plan to get students the courses and teachers they need.
Instead of academic courses required to graduate or get into college, some students were assigned periods doing clerical work, given classes they had already taken or allowed to go home early, according to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and Public Counsel.
Julia Pineda went to the school to question Jefferson administrators Thursday on why her son is home at around noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
She said their answer wasn't entirely comforting: officials told her he's doing well in his classes so the "home" periods won't affect him.
"It is affecting him because he's losing half a school day on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He gets out early and goes home and does nothing," she said, adding she welcomed the state intervention.
In his ruling Wednesday, Judge George Hernandez Jr. ordered officials at the California Department of Education and Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy to remedy the situation immediately.
Jefferson High students “have suffered and continue to suffer severe and pervasive educational deprivations, in the form of lost hours of instructional time,” according to the court order.
Oscar Carrillo, a senior at Jefferson, said lack of teachers for needed classes has long been a problem at the school.
"There’s a lot of subjects that we need teachers for. We have substitutes that come and go," said Carrillo.
Board member Monica Ratliff said local administrators should have addressed the issues with a defective class scheduling system and low staffing levels weeks ago. She lauded the judge's mandate that students be offered tutoring to help catch up on lost instructional time.
"I think it’s absolutely essential," said Ratliff. "I think — what’s disturbing to me — is we need a court order to do so."
L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy, who had taken the side of the plaintiffs even though their lawsuit accused his own district of causing harm to Jefferson students, called the ruling a victory. He did not attend the meetings to fix the Jefferson issues since he is away on a district business trip in South Korea.
"The irony of Superintendent Deasy encouraging a lawsuit against his own district due to his mis-management is not lost on the parents, employees and students of Jefferson and LAUSD," board member Bennett Kayser said in a statement.
The state intervention comes as the board evaluates Deasy's performance. It has until Oct. 21 to complete his review.
KPCC education reporter Adolfo Guzman-Lopez contributed to this report.