Civil rights attorneys filed a legal complaint Monday against the West Contra Costa Unified School District for approving millions of dollars in teacher pay raises, without first consulting the public as required by state law.
The complaint was filed on behalf of three parents of children attending West Contra Costa schools, in an attempt to force school district officials to follow the new state law, which requires public outreach and participation in the spending of state dollars, said Rigel Massaro, staff attorney at San Francisco-based Public Advocates Inc.
But Massaro said the district should be providing a more comprehensive accounting of expenses in its educational program, specifically the source of funding for nearly $26 million in teacher raises, and where $4.3 million earmarked for special needs students will be spent.
“The main point is there’s been a real lack of process,” she said. “There’s $30.1 million that went out the door without going to the community through the clearly mandated (LCAP) processes …,” she said. “Basically the district is really flouting the process of local control as well as the need for equity for high-need students in the district.”
Peter Tira, a spokesman with the California Department of Education, said his office was not in a position to comment on the legal complaint yet because it was still being reviewed.
However, district spokesman Marcus Walton said that the district has followed the law.
“We believe the district has followed the procedures outlined in by Local Control Funding Formula,” he said in a statement. “Our District’s Local Control Accountability Plan Parent Committee appropriately made recommendations, many of which the Board incorporated into the approved LCAP plan.”
“We want to be really clear: We’re not questioning the validity of the collective bargaining agreement with teachers,” she said. “But the issue and law is clear in this. … They needed to get the public involved in the process so we can be sure that they are funding it from the right funding area.”