FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – AUGUST 24, 2017
Cadonna Dory, Children’s Defense Fund – California, firstname.lastname@example.org (o) 213.355.8790 (m) 323.385.6342
James Suazo, Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach, email@example.com (o) 562.436.4806
Duc Luu, Public Advocates, firstname.lastname@example.org (o) 415.431.7430 x310 (m) 857.373.9118
Parents and Community Gain Greater Transparency and Funding for High Need Students at LBUSD; Appealing $30 million in spending to California Department of Education
LONG BEACH, CA – Parents and community organizations have filed an appeal with the California Department of Education concerning the spending and academic plan for the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD), the third-largest school district in California. The appeal is the result of LBUSD’s inadequate response to an administrative complaint filed in April, which alleged that the district had misspent $40 million intended for low-income students, English language learners, and foster youth. If left unchallenged, the administrative complaint claimed that the district would have misspent $124 million over three years to the detriment of these high need students.
The administrative complaint and appeal were filed by Public Advocates, Inc. on behalf of Children’s Defense Fund-California (CDF-CA), Latinos In Action-California, and parents of low-income and English learner students. In the administrative complaint and subsequent appeal, Public Advocates challenged the district’s budgeting of funds that are required to be targeted towards new or better services for high need students under the new school funding law known as the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).
Following the administrative complaint filed in April, LBUSD has taken steps to address the issues raised in the complaint. The district has discontinued paying $14 million in teacher salary increases out of these funds and significantly reduced challenged technology expenses, resulting in more than $17 million reclaimed over the next two years towards upgraded services for low-income students, English language learners, and foster youth.
“I am proud of the parents like myself and the students who have stood up to the school district for what is right,” said Martha Cota, executive director of Latinos in Action California and complainant in the appeal. “It has taken us four years of building relationships with the school district to make our voices heard. To have more than $17 million already for high-needs students is a big victory for the community. This is not finished, but we have so much community support behind us that I am confident our children will finally get the help they deserve.”
In response to the complaint, the district also revised its 2016-17 spending and academic plan, known as the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP), to provide greater clarity as to how the district is spending the $40 million. In exchange for increased flexibility under the new funding law, districts must transparently report on their strategies and spending as well as authentically engage community members in local decisionmaking.
“While we are encouraged to see the strides the district has made towards providing better information, it should not have taken years of advocacy and a formal complaint to compel LBUSD to explain its support of high need students,” said Angelica Jongco, senior staff attorney at Public Advocates. The appeal seeks to have the district reallocate some $17 million spent on basic textbooks that complainants allege comprise the entire cost of textbook purchases for the past school year and provide further detail concerning $14.5 million spent on Instructional Aides.
“We filed this appeal because every child is entitled to a textbook as a basic condition of learning. This is not the type of expenditure that meets the district’s obligation to do more for high need students,” explained Jongco.
“This is an important day for Long Beach students and for LCFF implementation in California,” said Shimica Gaskins, executive director of Children’s Defense Fund-California. “The UCP process has allowed us to put student and parent voices front and center as decisions are made to align resources with student need. Students and educators win when LCFF supplemental and concentration funds are properly spent to improve and increase services for high need students. CDF-CA is here to help hold systems accountable to that end.”
For a copy of the appeal to CDE, click here.
For a copy of the administrative complaint against LBUSD, click here.
For a copy of the district response, click here.
For more background on the Local Control Funding Formula, click here.
Public Advocates Inc. is a nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization that challenges the systemic causes of poverty and racial discrimination by strengthening community voices in public policy and achieving tangible legal victories advancing education, housing, transportation equity, and climate justice. www.publicadvocates.org
Children’s Defense Fund-California (CDF-CA) is a state office of the Children’s Defense Fund, a national child advocacy organization that has worked relentlessly for over 40 years to ensure a level playing field for all children. CDF-CA champions policies and programs that lift children out of poverty, ensure all children have access to health coverage and care and a quality education, and invest in our justice-involved youth. www.cdfca.org
Latinos In Action-California is a community-based organization whose mission is to fortify and enrich the lives of families, individuals, seniors and youth.