For Immediate Release
July 11, 2016

Contact: Isabel Alegria, Public Advocates,, 510.541.5428
Alexandra Patchen, Covington & Burling LLP,, 212.841.1102
Sandra Hernandez, ACLU of Southern California,, 213.977.5247
Tony Marcano, ACLU of Southern California,, 213.977.5242


Plaintiffs in Lawsuit Challenging LAUSD Spending on High-Need Students Push Back on District’s Efforts to Avoid Complying with Law


Plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging LA Unified School District’s plans for spending state funds meant to provide new or improved services to high-need students have filed a legal request with the State asking officials: (1) to compel the district to begin increasing or improving services by hundreds of millions of dollars this year and (2) to increase by an additional $422 million the funds LAUSD must re-allocate. The California Department of Education (CDE) issued a determination on May 27, 2016 requiring LAUSD to amend its Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) by re-allocating some $450 million to new or improved services for high-need students.  LAUSD has asked the CDE to reverse or at least delay implementation of its ruling; the plaintiffs are asking the CDE not only to uphold its determination but to expand it to apply to the last two years as well.

Statement from the legal team:

On behalf of Community Coalition, Reyna Frias and the thousands of students enrolled in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), Public Advocates, Covington & Burling LLP and the ACLU of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) have filed a formal opposition to LAUSD’s request that Superintendent Torlakson allow it to delay or avoid entirely its obligation to increase or improve services for high need students by hundreds of millions of dollars annually.  We are also asking the CDE to order LAUSD to make up for its shortchanging of students in 2014-15 and 2015-16 by providing an additional $422 million of services to those students.

Superintendent Torlakson’s authority for ensuring that local districts comply with state law does not permit him to act unilaterally or to delay immediate and full compliance with state law. We are troubled by the fact that the Superintendent’s June 14, 2016 letter to LAUSD, which was a personal communication sent directly to Superintendent King without notifying Plaintiffs, failed to ensure all parties had an opportunity to respond and suggested that LAUSD need not make any major budget adjustments until 2017-18

The Superintendent’s communication raises serious questions because it falls far short of what is needed to ensure that state funds that must be targeted to help low-income students are delivered each year as required under the 2013 education finance reform law known as Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).

We believe Superintendent Torlakson has a clear and important role to play: he must see to it that LAUSD officials provide a corrective plan that restores money specifically earmarked for high-need students for the past two academic years and beyond. That money was given to LAUSD for one purpose, and one purpose alone: to help provide services to low-income students, English language learners and foster youth. Diverting those funds for other uses, even if only for one more year, is a violation of both the law and Superintendent Tolakson’s authority.

We call on Superintendent Torlakson to stand by the CDE’s decision and order LAUSD to provide the proper amount of services to Los Angeles’s high-need students immediately.


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