A recent report by the California Department of Education (CDE) has concluded that a complaint and subsequent lawsuit filed by parent Reyna Frias of South Los Angeles has been justified. The report confirms that Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has been found to be misallocating school funds. The funds in question are dollars that have been specifically designated for Foster Youth and English Learners (unduplicated students). The essence of the finding is that LAUSD basically siphoned money that was earmarked for these students by state law and instead used the money to supplement Special Education, a federal program for children with learning disabilities. This practice was defended by LAUSD, including former Superintendent, John Deasy.
Approximately $450 million dollars have been inappropriately used to fund Special Education programs rather than fund programs and provide resources for LAUSD Foster kids and English Learners. Why does LAUSD think it can get away with this? Because it is obscenely huge and they think they can do whatever they want, including shortchanging our Latino students and our displaced foster youth. These students already face enormous obstacles in accessing quality education. To steal resources that could help these kids is a shameful and unacceptable! To make matters worse, this is not the first time that the district has been found guilty of ignoring the needs of its English Learners.
LAUSD has over 155,000 English Learners. That is more than any other district in the nation. In 2011, the district settled a complaint to the Office of Civil Rights finding that the district had failed to provide adequate services to its English learners. As part of the agreement, the school board passed an overhauled English Learner Master Plan in 2012 meant to increase services for ELLs. Fast forward, to 2015, where resources to fund that plan were cut critically short and instead used to fund special education. Not to mention the fact that the district has over 8000 foster youth enrolled in their schools who also suffered a shortage in resources and funding.
We applaud Reyna Frias for bringing this issue to light and holding LAUSD accountable. We suspect that this may be happening in other districts. Parents should become familiar with the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) in their district and hold all districts accountable for the funding of their students. La Comadre will keep you posted on this issue and post some useful information on understanding Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) soon.
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