Los Angeles Unified School District
|Los Angeles Unified School District
Distrito Escolar Unificado de Los Ángeles
|Los Angeles, surrounding areas
|Students and staff|
|Teachers' unions||United Teachers Los Angeles, California Teachers Association|
Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is the largest (in terms of number of students) public school system in the U.S. state of California. It is the 2nd largest public school district in the United States. Only the New York City Department of Education has a larger student population. During the 2007–2008 school year, LAUSD served 694,288 students, and had 45,473 teachers and 38,494 other employees. It is the second largest employer in Los Angeles County, after the county government. The total school district operating budget for 2012–2013 is $6.78 billion.
The school district consists of Los Angeles and all or portions of several adjoining Southern California cities. LAUSD has its own police force, the Los Angeles School Police Department, which was established in 1948 to provide police services for LAUSD schools. The LAUSD enrolls a third of the preschoolers in Los Angeles County, and operates almost as many buses as the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The LAUSD school construction program rivals the Big Dig in terms of expenditures, and LAUSD cafeterias serve about 500,000 meals a day, rivaling the output of local McDonald's restaurants.
The LAUSD has a reputation for extremely crowded schools with large class sizes, high drop-out and expulsion rates, low academic performance in many schools, poor maintenance and incompetent administration. In 2007, LAUSD's dropout rate was 26 percent for grades 9 through 12. But more recently, there are signs that the district is showing improvement, both in terms of dropout and graduation rates. An ambitious renovation program intended to help eased the overcrowded conditions has been completed. As part of its school-construction project, LAUSD opened two high schools (Santee Education Complex and South East) in 2005 and four high schools (Arleta, Contreras Learning Complex, Panorama, and East Valley) in 2006.
- 1 Governance
- 2 History
- 3 Areas served
- 4 List of schools and properties
- 5 United States Academic Decathlon
- 6 Magnet programs
- 7 Notable staff members
- 8 All District High School Honor Band
- 9 Questioning of school librarians
- 10 Demographics
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
Los Angeles Unified School District is governed by a seven-member Board of Education, which appoints a superintendent, who runs the daily operations of the district. Members of the board are elected directly by voters from separate districts that encompass communities that the LAUSD serves. The district's former superintendent is Ramon Cortines. Cortines was appointed acting superintendent after the school board decided to buy out the contract of David L. Brewer III, a former Navy Vice-Admiral who served as head of the Navy's Education and Training Division and was in charge of the SeaLift Command. From 2001 until his retirement in October 2006, the district was led by former Governor of Colorado and Democratic Party chairman Roy Romer.
The seven current members of Board of Education include George McKenna (District 1), Monica Garcia (District 2), Scott Schmerelson (District 3), Board President Steve Zimmer (District 4), Dr. Ref Rodriguez (District 5), Mónica Ratliff (District 6), and Richard Vladovic (District 7).
Every LAUSD household or residential area is zoned to an elementary school, a middle school and a high school, in one of the eight local school districts. Each local school district is run by an area superintendent and is headquartered within the district.
The Los Angeles Unified School District was once composed of two separate districts: the Los Angeles City School District, formed on September 19, 1853, and the Los Angeles City High School District, formed in 1890. The latter provided 9–12 educational services, while the former did so for K-8. On July 1, 1961 the Los Angeles City School District and the Los Angeles City High School District merged, forming the Los Angeles Unified School District.
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On January 31, 1957, a DC7B crashed into the schoolyard of Pacoima Junior High School in Pacoima in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, California following a midair collision with a US military plane, resulting in the deaths of the four crew members aboard the DC-7B, the pilot of the Scorpion jet, and two students on the ground, a third died three days later. Additionally, approximately seventy-eight students suffered injuries which ranged from minor to life-threatening.
The annexation left the Topanga School District and the Las Virgenes Union School District (then renamed to the West County Union High School District) as separate remnants of the high school district. The high school district changed its name to the West County Union High School District. LAUSD annexed the Topanga district on July 1, 1962. Since the Las Virgenes Union School District had the same boundary as the remaining West County Union High School District, on July 1, 1962 West County ceased to exist.
In 1963, a lawsuit, Crawford v. Board of Ed. of Los Angeles was filed to end segregation in the district. The California Supreme Court required the district to come up with a plan in 1977. The board returned to court with what the court of appeal years later would describe as "one of if not the most drastic plan of mandatory student reassignment in the nation." A desegregation busing plan was developed to be implemented in the 1978 school year. Two lawsuits to stop the enforced busing plan, both titled Bustop, Inc. v. Los Angeles Bd. of Ed., were filed by the group Bustop Inc. and were petitioned to the United States Supreme Court. The petitions to stop the busing plan were subsequently denied by Justice Rehnquist and Justice Powell. California Constitutional Proposition 1, which mandated that busing follow the Equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution passed in 1979 with 70% of the vote. The Crawford v. Board of Ed. of Los Angeles lawsuit was heard in the Supreme Court in 1982. The Supreme Court upheld the decision that Proposition 1 was constitutional.
Various attempts at program reform have been attempted. In one reform, individual schools were given more authority over day-to-day decisions and public school choice, authored by school board member Yolie Flores was implemented. In the 1990s, the Los Angeles Education Alliance for Restructuring Now (LEARN) and the Los Angeles Annenberg Metropolitan Project (LAAMP) were created, giving principals even more authority to make changes in curriculum hopefully benefiting students. Regardless, student achievement failed to increase.
Later attempted reform led to the creation of eleven minidistricts with decentralized management and their own individual superintendents. Due to the cost of this additional bureaucracy, then Superintendent Romer called for reversing the measure and re-merging the minidistricts. United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing LAUSD teachers, supported this plan. Eight numbered Local Districts arose from the merger replacing the eleven districts.
Although grappling with economic shortfalls, the Los Angeles Unified School District continues to employ consultants. In 2008, the district employed more than 800 consultants – paid, on average, more than twice as much as regular employees – to oversee school construction. The Facilities Services Division spends about $182 million on its 849 consultants, almost $215,000 each. The division's regular employees are paid about $99,000 each. At the time, Senior Deputy Superintendent Ramon Cortines said that consultants may get the work done quickly and correctly, but said he is also concerned about the district's reliance on outside workers. "We need to look at it, to reduce the number of consultants," he said. In the seven main branches of the Facilities Services Division, there are 3,479 district employees who earn a total of about $347 million, according to district records. The division employs 849 consultants who earn a total of about $182.6 million.
The practice has prompted concerns and a growing number of inquiries from the district's board members and LAUSD's bond oversight committee. Some district officials defend the practice, saying use of consultants ebbs and flows with the various stages of construction.
Efforts to reform Facilities by Superintendent Ramon Cortines, from 2009–2010, has continued to result in union complaints and audit issues regarding consultants. Former Chief of Facilities James Sohn, hired on 2009, led the effort to reduce consultant payments by 20% and increase consultant company competition. However, this effort has been ridiculed by audits from Los Angeles County Controller Wendy Greuel and confidential internal audits by the Office of Inspector General in LAUSD that consistently found lax oversight and conflicts of interest. The confidential report by the OIG office, prompted by whistleblowers, found “irregularities in $65 million worth of contracts.” This includes costs that exceed pre-approved amounts by 50% and contracts worth $31 million without school board approval. James Sohn’s declaration to decrease 20% consultants costs were also shown to be disingenuous by the OIG audit report, which found many consultants switched companies with a higher billing rate, offsetting the 20% reduction and companies increased hourly billing rate prior to the 20% reduction, therefore negating any difference. James Sohn disputes these charges.
James Sohn has also introduced a new contract type, called Agency Construction Manager (Agency CM) which claim to offer many benefits, including maximizing consultant services, lower costs, increase productivity and increase small business competition (see Construction Management). Agency CM is an attempt to replace the old consultant model of billing for an hourly rate in favor of a “lump sum task order”. Task orders are designed to provide payment for completion of a particular task, regardless of the amount of hours worked. Criticisms with this include the lack of adequate tracking of consultant employees. Comparing district to consultant staffing would not be accurate. These contracts were also cited in the confidential OIG report as “vague” in detail. Teamster union officials have also complained about layoffs within Facilities that have resulted in massive district demotions and layoffs. Teamster representative, Connie Oser, has alleged that district staff have been removed while consultant contracts have been continuously and repeatedly approved by the board, consultant employees shuffled between companies, and the use of Agency CM, which enables tracking of consultants, difficult. Superintendent Ramon Cortines and former Chief Facilities Sohn have both claimed consultants have been reduced in far greater numbers than district staff. This claim cannot be verified since the use of Agency CM contracts.
Allegations have also surfaced against James Sohn’s management staff. Many of his Executive level staff have been prior consultants. James Sohn has also been criticized for his attempt to purge all non-legally required documents in each employee computer system. After Teamsters union complaints, LAUSD halted this practice. James Sohn claimed this is a customary process done by construction programs. He did not provide any evidence to support this claim.
On November 16, 2007, the WorldNet Daily posted "Battle-scarred 'sub' in L.A. barrios speaks out" by Migdia Chinea Varela, a screenwriter and former substitute teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Chinea stated that, in many schools she served, the students had no interest in learning, abused the teachers, vandalized property, and joined gangs. Chinea, who was injured on the job, stated that teachers are underpaid and under-appreciated in the district. She described the campuses in LAUSD as a "mess, filthy, dilapidated and without supplies." Chinea believes that the district is taking little action against the conditions rampant in various low-income schools.
On January 5, 2008 Sandy Banks of the Los Angeles Times reported that vandals and thieves targeted LAUSD schools in various neighborhoods during holidays. Banks said that the lack of police presence allows thieves to target schools.
Thirty-three-year-old Alberto Gutierrez sued the Los Angeles Unified School District, saying that the principal of the San Fernando High School, where he was assigned, retaliated against him when Gutierrez asked students to "think critically" about the role of the United States in the Iraq War. Jose Luis Rodriguez, the principal, says that he spoke to Gutierrez because some parents did not appreciate Gutierrez requiring students to attend off-campus screenings of Fahrenheit 9/11 and Crash.
On January 31, 2012, police arrested Mark Berndt, a veteran teacher at Miramonte Elementary School, and charged him with 23 counts of lewd conduct, which included taking pictures of students who were being spoon-fed his semen. Another teacher, Martin Springer, was charged with fondling a 7-year-old girl in his class. A third teacher, a female, was accused of "aiding and abetting" Mark Berndt by sending him victims. The entire staff at Miramonte was subsequently replaced.
That same year on December 18, 2012 a jury awarded a $23 million settlement to a 14-year-old boy who had been molested repeatedly by his fifth grade teacher at Queen Anne Place Elementary School in the Mid-Wilshire area, one of the largest awards in the history of the school system. Forest Stobbe, a long time veteran teacher of Queen Place Elementary pleaded no contest to two counts of lewd acts on a child and repeated sexual abuse of a child under the age of 14 and was sentenced to 16 years in prison. The boy in question was 10 at the time of the abuse. At the time of trial the boy's attorney, Stephen Estey, asked for a $25 million verdict citing the school district's history of negligence, ignoring, "a number of red flags and complaints by other victims and as a result Stobbe grew bolder and inflicted a lifetime of harm on our defenseless client." Although Stobbe had no official criminal record, the Jury ruled that the school district, "should have heeded complaints that preceded the molestation." A previous female student complained Stobbe fondled her buttocks, and two years prior to his arrest Stobbe had been seen with a female student alone in his car. Among the insurmountable evidence against Stobbe was a jar of petroleum jelly on his desk that tested positive for the boy's DNA. The Los Angeles Unified School District was found 30% liable for the damages, and was responsible for $6.9 million of the final settlement.
Assembly Bill 1381
After his election to Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa advocated bringing control of the public school system under his office, removing power from the Board of Education. This sparked some protest from teachers, LAUSD board members and many residents of communities not within the City of Los Angeles but served by LAUSD.
In August 2006, after a compromise was brokered which allowed the mayor large control while retaining an elected school board and allowing input to be provided from surrounding cities, California State Assembly Bill 1381 passed, giving the mayor a measure of control over district administration. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the law on September 18, 2006. The Board of Education immediately filed suit to block the law, claiming that it violates the state constitution by allowing a local government to take over an educational agency.
AB 1381 was required to sunset on January 1, 2013, unless extended by the Legislature. On December 21, 2006, AB 1381 was ruled unconstitutional. The mayor appealed, but later dropped his appeal as two of the candidates he supported for school board were elected, essentially giving him indirect control over the school district.
In 2004, a new payroll system project began, with Deloitte Consulting engaged to customize software purchased from SAP AG. The Deloitte contract was $55,000,000 with the total cost estimated to be $95,000,000. The system went live in January 2007. As of 2008, a number of problems have been experienced with some staff getting overpaid and some underpaid, or even not at all. Deloitte representatives and District officials have pointed fingers at each other. Some of the problems have been software and hardware, some have been due to the complexity of labor agreements, salary scales, work rules and job assignments within the district.
2015 hoax threat
On December 15, 2015, the district received an emailed threat, thought by some officials to be credible, causing the closure of all Los Angeles Unified Schools. It was later judged by Los Angeles police to have been a hoax. The email was traced to an IP address in Frankfurt, Germany. The Los Angeles Times reported that the threat did not necessarily originate from an IP address in Frankfurt, Germany. After the threat had been received at 10 p.m. the previous day, the decision to close the schools was made at 6 a.m. by Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines. Cortines had quietly submitted his resignation just four days earlier, but stepped back into authority when the crisis emerged.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti stated that because he does not control the schools, that Superintendent Ramon Cortines, not he, made the decision. People in charge concurred that their response could have been better organized. Cortines stated that he should have been contacted much less than 7 hours after receiving the threat. Though the school board president contacted police, Cortines was not contacted until they were unable to rule out a real attack, giving him minutes before school bus drivers left to make the important decision.
Former Los Angeles Police Chief and current New York Police Commissioner William Bratton referred to the closure as a significant overreaction. "We can not allow ourselves to raise levels of fear." He also suggested the incident could have been inspired by the TV series Homeland.
LAUSD serves all of the following communities:
- Huntington Park
- Los Angeles – Including, but not limited to:
- List of districts and neighborhoods of Los Angeles
- excluding a small portion of West Hills which is in the Las Virgenes Unified School District
- Some areas of Los Angeles with Beverly Hills addresses, i.e. Beverly Hills Post Office, are located in LAUSD
- Marina del Rey
- San Fernando
- South Gate
- Universal City
- View Park
- Walnut Park
- West Athens
- West Hollywood
and portions of the following communities:
- East Los Angeles (other parts of East Los Angeles are served by Montebello Unified School District)
- Monterey Park
- Rancho Palos Verdes (most other parts of Rancho Palos Verdes are served by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District)
- West Compton
List of schools and properties
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LAUSD has 219 year-round schools and 439 schools on the traditional calendar. In 2005, 47% of all LAUSD students were enrolled in year round schools., but that has declined with construction of new schools and reduced enrollment as a result of the economic recession, such that in the 2012–13 school year, only three schools are on a year-round schedule.
Edward R. Roybal Learning Center
The Edward R. Roybal Learning Center (previously known as Belmont Learning Center or Vista Hermosa Learning Center), in the densely populated Westlake district just west of downtown, was originally envisioned as a mixed-use education and retail complex to include several schools, shops and a public park. After more than a decade of delays stemming from the environmental review process, ground was broken for construction in 1995 . Midway through construction it was discovered that explosive methane and toxic hydrogen sulfide were seeping from an old underground oil field. Later, an active surface fault was found under one of the completed buildings, necessitating its removal. The LAUSD had spent an estimated $175 million on the project by 2004, with an additional $110 million budgeted for cleanup efforts. The total cost is estimated by LAUSD at $300 million. Critics have speculated that it may end up costing closer to $500 million. Designed by architectural firm DLR Group WWCOT, the school opened in 2008 as Edward R. Roybal Learning Center.
The Ambassador Hotel (Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools)
Another controversial project has been the development of The Ambassador Hotel property on Wilshire Boulevard in densely populated Koreatown. The LAUSD fought over the landmark with, among others, Donald Trump (with the legal battle dating back to 1989). In 2001, the LAUSD finally obtained legal ownership of the property. Plans to demolish the building, the site where Senator Robert F. Kennedy was shot, were met with strong opposition from preservationists. In August 2005, LAUSD settled a lawsuit over the matter that had been filed by numerous preservationist groups: most of the Ambassador complex would be destroyed, but the Paul Williams-designed coffee shop and the Coconut Grove nightclub would be preserved, with the Grove serving as the auditorium for a new school to be built on the site. Demolition began in late 2005 and the last section of the hotel fell on January 16, 2006.
The project construction became the most expensive school in the United States. It has three Elementary schools, three Middle schools, and four high schools including LAHSA. The Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools opened in September 2010 at the cost of $578 million to serve 4,200 K-12 students. Costs in 2010 were $350 per 1 square foot (0.093 m2). Amidst great controversy the district attributed the high costs to material, land prices, seismic code, and unionized labor.
In 2005, soil samples taken at the LAUSD-owned site of a former Santee Dairy facility in South Los Angeles found high levels of carcinogens in soil used as foundation fill for a high school then under construction. A small controversy brewed on the matter, with some neighborhood activists and LAUSD critics claiming a repeat of the Belmont Learning Center fiasco. State scientists determined that the contaminated soil was sufficiently deep to pose no threat to students on the site, and the now-called Santee Educational Complex opened its doors in July 2005.
Park Avenue Elementary School
Ellen Ochoa Learning Center
United States Academic Decathlon
The following LAUSD schools have won the United States Academic Decathlon:
- John Marshall High School, 1987, 1995
- William H. Taft High School, 1989, 1994, 2006
- El Camino Real High School, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2014
- Granada Hills Charter High School, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016
As of January 2014 LAUSD has 191 magnet schools with about 53,500 students. In 2012, the school district admitted 16,000 new students into these magnet schools out of a pool of 66,000 applications. Cara Mia DiMassa of the Los Angeles Times said that the schools, "designed to be among the best campuses in the district, mostly are as competitive for applicants as any popular private school."
The district assigns points to prospective applicants based on certain conditions: students who have applied for magnet schools before receive additional points, students who live in overcrowded zoned schools receive points, and students who live in mostly minority communities receive points. In addition, the magnet schools have racial quotas. Each school is to have 30–40% non-Hispanic White students and 60–70% minority students. As of 2011, within LAUSD, 90% of the overall student body consists of racial and ethnic minorities.
The magnet schools were established in 1977 as an alternative to forced desegregation busing. The racial quota system was devised at a time when the integration focus was on making Black and White students attend school together. Since then, the district demographics changed.
As of January 2005, of the Hispanic students in LAUSD, 1.2% attended magnet schools. Of the White students in LAUSD, 16% attended magnet schools. Of all magnet school students, 46.5% are Hispanic, 20% are White, 19.2% are Black, 10.2% are Asian, 3.6% are Filipino, and .6% are other. The overall LAUSD student body was 72.8% Hispanic, 11.6% Black, 9% White, 3.8% Asian, 2.2% Filipino, and .6% other.
Notable staff members
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- Jaime Escalante taught students calculus at Garfield High School in the East Los Angeles CDP of Los Angeles County for many years, as dramatized in the movie Stand and Deliver.
- Ezola B. Foster, right-wing political activist, taught in various LAUSD schools from the 1960s until the early 1990s.
- Scott Perry, former American football defensive back in the National Football League, played professionally for the Cincinnati Bengals. Teaches first grade at Point Fermin Elementary School
- Essie Mae Washington-Williams, the daughter of Strom Thurmond, taught typing in the district from 1967 until 1997.
- Cuban-American Screenwriter Migdia Chinea has taught English, Physical Education, Spanish, Art, Social Sciences and other subjects at various LAUSD schools in the Central District.
All District High School Honor Band
The All District High School Honor Band represents what are considered the finest musicians from the LAUSD's high school band programs. Band members are invited in September each year to audition for a spot on the band, which includes only brass and percussion instruments. The group has marched in every Tournament of Roses Parade since 1973. The All District High School Band allows members the opportunity to perform in Bandfest, at Disneyland, and on other special events. The 300 members are required "to maintain a 2.5 or greater grade point average, and stay in good standing with home school program."
Originally organized to meet the minimum requirement of having 100 members on the band to perform in the Rose Parade, the Honor Band has performed at Anaheim Stadium, Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood Christmas Lane Parade (now Hollywood Christmas Parade), Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Rams and Raiders football games, and Super Bowls XI, XIV, and XVII. They were present at the Governor's Inauguration in Sacramento, XXIV Olympiad Salute, and the World Series during the past 25 years. In May 1986, the band was part of two unique events that cemented the band's reputation as one of the best in the nation. First, the band traveled to Atlanta to participate in Coca-Cola's Centennial Celebration. Then at the end of the month, the band participated in Hands Across America where the band was the "anchor" at the events Western terminus at the RMS Queen Mary pier in Long Beach, California.
Questioning of school librarians
In May 2011, attorneys for LAUSD began scrutinizing the practice of their own teacher-librarians in an attempt to balance the district's budget. Librarians who could demonstrate they had taught within the past five years could avoid layoff by being classified as teachers.
As of the 2011-2012 school year, in its enrollment breakdown by ethnic group, 72.3% of its students were of Hispanic origin, of any race; 10.1% of the student population was of Non-Hispanic white ancestry; 9.6% of its students were African American, while Asian American students comprised 4%; students of Filipino origin formed 2.1% of the student population and Native Americans and Pacific Islanders together comprised less than 1%.
- Highly Gifted Magnet
- List of high schools in Los Angeles County, California
- List of Los Angeles Unified School District schools
- List of Los Angeles Unified School District people
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- Bustop, Inc. v. Los Angeles Bd. of Ed.439 U.S. 1384 (1978)
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- Specifically, AB 1381:
- Removes power from the Board of Education and gives it to the superintendent. The superintendent is permitted to request state waivers, hire and fire principals, negotiate and execute contracts, locate and close schools, and manage all personnel. The school board still retains the sole authority to use eminent domain, place taxes and bonds on the ballot, and negotiate with the unions.
- Creates a council of mayors consisting of mayors of all cities in the LAUSD and members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors who have territory in the LAUSD. This council selects the LAUSD superintendent, takes a look at the budget and makes changes before the school board (with the school board retaining only approval authority, without the ability to make changes). The council of mayors is weighted by population, but must act by a 90% of the population, effectively giving control to the mayor of Los Angeles while requiring him to seek consensus from a few other cities. The city of Los Angeles has 82% of the residents in LAUSD.
- Allows the mayor of Los Angeles and superintendent, through a joint partnership, direct control over three "clusters" of low-performing schools (defined as a high school and all of its feeders, with the high school one of those in the bottom 20% statewide).
- The "Southeast Schools Coalition" composed of the cities of Bell, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Maywood, South Gate, and Vernon is given the right to ratify its local minidistrict superintendent.
- AB 1381 – Gloria Romero Educational Reform Act of 2006. California State Legislature As Amended August 28, 2005
- Naush Boghossian and Rick Orlov – Judge sets hearing on LAUSD case Los Angeles Daily News (link no longer available) – copy available at theFreelibrary
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- Los Angeles Unified School District All District High School Honor Band