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State may step into 2 more troubled LA high schools



File: Jefferson High School students stage a walkout in August 2014 to protest a broken scheduling system that doesn't allow them to take the classes they need to graduate.
File: Jefferson High School students stage a walkout in August 2014 to protest a broken scheduling system that doesn't allow them to take the classes they need to graduate.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Hours after the Los Angeles Unified superintendent announced his resignation Thursday, civil rights attorneys called on the California Department of Education to intervene in two more Los Angeles high schools where they allege students are being deprived of adequate learning time.

"It's an educational oxymoron to have a class that has no content," said Mark Rosenbaum, an attorney for Public Counsel, at an L.A. Unified school board meeting Tuesday. 

Judge George Hernandez Jr. ordered state and local officials to intervene at Jefferson High School on Oct. 8. Less than a week later, Los Angeles Unified officials presented a plan to reschedule students, add more classes and lengthen the school day a half hour so students could catch up on lost time. 

The school board on Tuesday approved $1.1 million to pay for the fixes.

The ACLU and Public Counsel found students Dorsey and Fremont high schools are also enrolled in courses they already passed, working as aides or going home early rather than being challenged academically.

In a status report filed in Alameda County Superior Court Thursday, attorneys argued Los Angeles Unified officials haven't done enough to identify students losing learning time and haven't clearly stated how they'll fix the problem.

"Plaintiffs are further investigating the remaining high schools in this litigation and will be taking steps to seek prompt relief for all students at these schools, who like students at Jefferson, have been and continue to be deprived of instruction time due to assignment to course periods with no content or failure to finalize an appropriate master schedule in advance of the school year," according to the filing. 

L.A. Unified and state officials did not respond to requests for comment, but district officials argue scheduling issues are being resolved promptly.

L.A. Unified's faulty data system caused scheduling chaos at schools across the district, but high poverty high schools were especially hard hit. Jefferson High, home to about 1,000 students, mostly black and Latino, was still reeling from staffing turnovers and decreased funding.

"I feel like our school has been left out," said Armani Richards, a Jefferson senior."I have friends who go to other schools and they get all these resources and they are so ahead of us. I feel bad because I don't feel like I'm even close to being on their level."

Jefferson graduated only about 30 percent of its black students in 2012 and 2013, the most recent data available. Dorsey's and Fremont's graduation rates are much better, but still trail the state average of 80 percent. 

Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly described the board that approved $1.1 million for scheduling system fixes.