State Urged to Intervene at Two More LA High Schools, Kern County School Discipline Lawsuit, Prop 47′s LA Savings, and PPOA Interviews McDonnellOctober 17th, 2014 by Taylor Walker
TWO MORE LA HIGH SCHOOLS NOT GIVING KIDS NEEDED CLASSES, STATE CALLED ON TO STEP IN
On the same day that beleaguered LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy announced his resignation, the ACLU and Public Counsel filed a report at Alameda County Superior Court urged the state to intervene at two more LAUSD schools—Dorsey and Fremont—for failing to educate students.
Last week, Alameda County Superior Court Judge George Hernandez Jr. ordered LAUSD to work with the state to come up with a plan to fix Jefferson High School’s scheduling system that was giving kids filler classes and sending them home early with minimal instruction. (Read that story, here.) On Tuesday, the state board of education approved the school district’s $1.1 million plan to fix the Jefferson crisis.
Jefferson and Fremont high schools are named in a class action lawsuit filed by the ACLU and Public Counsel, Cruz v. California, challenging the state’s failure to provide an adequate education to kids attending nine schools in LA, Compton, Contra Costa, and Oakland.
KPCC’s Annie Gilbertson has more on the new action. Here’s a clip:
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 state 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.
AND OVER IN KERN COUNTY…A LAWSUIT AGAINST HARSH DISCIPLINE FOR MINORITY KIDS
Last year, we shared Susan Ferriss of Center for Public Integrity’s stories about Latino kids (many English-learners) and black kids in Kern County receiving disproportionate punishment and transfers to remote alternative schools and independent study.
Late last week, a lawsuit against Kern County School District was filed on behalf of a number of the kids in Ferriss’ stories. The suit says the district declined to fix racially disparate practices in accordance with California’s new discipline reforms.
Kern is also accused of misreporting expulsions as transfers, as well as “tricking” and “coercing” parents into waiving kids’ due process rights, allowing the school to immediately transfer disciplined students to alternative schools.
The suit was filed by a number of non-profit and advocate groups including, California Rural Legal Assistance and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund [MALDEF].
Here’s a clip from Susan Ferriss’ latest story on the issue:
…the suit accuses the Kern High School District of failing to comply with new state discipline policies and adopt alternative practices designed to diffuse problems without resorting to kicking kids out.
The suit also accuses the district of labeling students that its regular campuses kick out as “involuntary” or “voluntary transfers” instead of expulsions that must be reported to state and federal databases.
The suit notes that the district — under scrutiny after media reports — did cut its expulsions from 2,040 in 2011 to 256 students in 2013. But the groups argue that enrollment has not declined at alternative schools because of continuing transfers of students that parents — many of them limited English speakers — agree to authorize without fully understanding other options.
The district, the suit alleges, “has implemented a ‘waiver’ system, under which students and parents are convinced through intimidation, coerced or tricked into waiving the due process protections accompanying formal discipline and accepting immediate placement in alternative schools.”
The suit also argues that stark ethnic disparities persist among kids officially expelled from Kern’s high schools.
During the 2012-2013 school year, according to the suit, 67 percent of black students who were expelled were kicked out for infractions that did not include physical injury, possession of drugs or weapons. Only 42 percent of white students expelled were removed for similarly less serious infractions.
MORE PROP 47 STATISTICS ON COUNTY SAVINGS, AND MORE
The Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice has issued a new report on estimated savings and jail population reductions each California county can expect if Prop 47 passes next month. (If you’ve forgotten, Prop 47 would reclassify certain low-level drug and property offenses from felonies to misdemeanors, incurring punishments like probation and treatment, or a max of one year in jail, instead of more lengthy prison sentences.)
The CJCJ brief says Los Angeles would likely save between $100-$175 million, free between 2,500 and 7,500 jail beds, and affect nearly 10,000 offenders.
For further Prop 47 reading, the San Jose Mercury News’ Tracy Kaplan has more on the measure’s proponents, which include three three county district attorneys, Newt Gingrich, and a retired SD Police Chief, as well as opponents, which include other DAs and peace officer associations.
PPOA INTERVIEWS LA SHERIFF CANDIDATE JIM MCDONNELL
A new 33 minute interview by Brian Moriguchi, the president of the Professional Peace Officers Association (PPOA), with Los Angeles Sheriff-hopeful, LBPD Chief Jim McDonnell, addresses questions about issues like civilian oversight, leadership, transparency, and field deputy positions. The interview is the first installment in a three-part interview with McDonnell. Watch the entire first video above.