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LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy at an AmeriCorps event

UPDATED:  September 10, 2014

After seeking clarification from the Los Angeles Unified School District about how it calculated the funds it said it was spending on low-income students, English learners and foster children,  the Los Angeles County Office of Education has approved the district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan.

It is the final  LCAP to be approved by the county in the 80 school districts within its jurisdiction.

The LCAP, which districts are required to draw up under the state’s new school financing law, is supposed to outline a district’s plans for improving outcomes for these three categories high-needs children, and how it intends to provide additional and improved services to those children in proportion to the additional funds it receives from the state. The principle is referred to as “proportionality” in the law.

The county had asked for clarification on how the district estimated that it spent $700 million last year on high-needs children. One of the issues was whether the district could include $450 million in special education funds as a large portion of that amount.

Based on complicated formulas set by the law, the amount a district spends in a prior year on high-needs children has an impact on how much it must spend the following year on them.

Go here for a full explanation provided by the California Department of Education on impact of prior year funding levels. 

In an Aug. 19 letter to the county, Los Angeles Unified School Superintendent John Deasy vehemently defended  the way his district reached the $700 million figure. He said the district estimated that 79 percent of all students in special education were in one of the high-needs categories.  “Seventy nine percent of the special education program expenditures .. were therefore counted towards the proportionality goal because they were for the benefit of eligible, high needs students,” Deasy wrote.

Deasy also defended the district including some funds for adult education in the $700 million total, because he said high school students can use adult school classes to recover credits that they may be missing. He made a similar justification for including LCFF funds to provide school police services – because he said they “directly benefit the safety of students in schools with the highest percentages” of high-needs students.

In a June 6 letter to Deasy, John Affeldt, managing attorney at Public Advocates, and David Sapp, director of education advocacy for the ACLU of Southern California, charged that the district should not have included funds spent on special education services in their calculations. They argued that special education is part of a district’s normal operations and should not count towards additional or improved services for children most in need.

If the special education funds were not included, Affeldt and Sapp argued that the district would be required to spend an additional $133 million, on top of the additional $137 million the district is already  intending to spend on those children during the current school year.

The decision by the county to approve the LCAP generated a strong response from Affeldt, who said he was “disappointed” in the county’s approval of what he termed an “illegal practice” by LA Unified.  “These special ed services were not targeted last year for high need students, but are part of the district’s general offerings as required by federal law.  Next, LAUSD will want to take credit for the high need student portion of the electric bill.  All options, including litigation, remain on the table at this point to correct the district’s $133 million underfunding of high need students.”

In his letter, Deasy also argued that the county had no choice but to approve the district’s LCAP because the law only gives the county limited powers to reject it.

“The legislative intent behind the LCFF allows Local Education Authorities (school districts) to demonstrate comprehensive strategies using all resources  to benefit all students,” he explained. “Nowhere in the regulations is the district precluded from including unrestricted General Fund expenditures.”

Superintendent John Deasy’s response to the LA County Office of Education can be found here. 


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  1. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    So there's an assertion by parties that LAUSD is dodging its responsibilities to poor and minority students? Do I get that right? The district led by John Deasy, guiding spirit of Vergara, champion of the poor and minorities, hero of the unduplicated, scourge of the "underperforming," is carrying on with his fellow Broad Academy acolytes in a unilateral manner? Here I have to channel Cpt. Renault standing in Rick's Place in Casablanca: "I'm shocked! Shocked … Read More

    So there’s an assertion by parties that LAUSD is dodging its responsibilities to poor and minority students? Do I get that right? The district led by John Deasy, guiding spirit of Vergara, champion of the poor and minorities, hero of the unduplicated, scourge of the “underperforming,” is carrying on with his fellow Broad Academy acolytes in a unilateral manner? Here I have to channel Cpt. Renault standing in Rick’s Place in Casablanca: “I’m shocked! Shocked I tell you!”

    Say, didn’t the union in LAUSD file a suit against the district for taking “unilateral action?” Must have been a coincidence.

    Replies

    • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

      It seems to me that Deasy's Vergara testimony about teacher dismissals and the concentration of ineffective teachers on lower performing groups is a very different issue than which kinds of expenditures can be tallied towards S and C goals. I take it the intent of your comment is to imply that your opinion of his testimony as bogus and the assertion that funding may have been incorrectly applied indicates therefore, that reformers are … Read More

      It seems to me that Deasy’s Vergara testimony about teacher dismissals and the concentration of ineffective teachers on lower performing groups is a very different issue than which kinds of expenditures can be tallied towards S and C goals. I take it the intent of your comment is to imply that your opinion of his testimony as bogus and the assertion that funding may have been incorrectly applied indicates therefore, that reformers are obviously crooks. Is that about the sum of it? Isn’t it more likely that we are dealing with a failure of the law to make crystal clear what funding passes for the purposes of S and C goals? I don’t think we are talking about overt misappropriation of funds (corruption), but rather a disagreement of the terms of a insufficiently clear law.

    • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

      Gary, have you ever tried analyzing it and asking yourself, how many kids are hurt by teachers having a guaranteed job in which they feel comfortable missing days for no reason and some bad teachers last a long time, vs. one where you really felt bad each time you took a personal day and tried not to knowing it's noted, and where you know your principal's opinion, attendance, work ethic, test scores and ratings of … Read More

      Gary, have you ever tried analyzing it and asking yourself, how many kids are hurt by teachers having a guaranteed job in which they feel comfortable missing days for no reason and some bad teachers last a long time, vs. one where you really felt bad each time you took a personal day and tried not to knowing it’s noted, and where you know your principal’s opinion, attendance, work ethic, test scores and ratings of you determines pay, layoffs and promotions, not seniority, and bonuses were given for stellar performance, not years on the job? Have you ever thought about how kids are hurt by long-term bad teachers?

      You seem to only look at this issue for something to nitpick about.

      So let’s say because of all these obscure little nitpicky things we keep tenure the way it is now. In the next 30 years, we simply allow absenteeism to stay the same, keep it considered morally OK to miss a day for mental health to goof off or just because you want to, have the next round of layoffs by seniority only, and only fire 285 teachers statewide in the next 30 years, about 9.5 a year.

      Will that help poor kids, as compared with coming up with a new system which takes into account equally all interest groups? Do you honestly believe that?

      I’ve never heard you find one instance where you note a bad teacher hurt kids and the policy allowed it. You’re so one-sided on this.

  2. John Affeldt 2 years ago2 years ago

    It's disappointing that the county, with its approval, has become complicit in this illegal practice. These special ed services were not targeted last year for high need students, but are part of the district's general offerings as required by federal law. Next, LAUSD will want to take credit for the high need student portion of the electric bill. All options, including litigation, remain on the table at this point to correct the … Read More

    It’s disappointing that the county, with its approval, has become complicit in this illegal practice. These special ed services were not targeted last year for high need students, but are part of the district’s general offerings as required by federal law. Next, LAUSD will want to take credit for the high need student portion of the electric bill. All options, including litigation, remain on the table at this point to correct the district’s $133 million underfunding of high need students.

    Replies

    • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

      I was under the impression, but certainly could be wrong on the specifics, that S and C grant money expenditures were intended to be calculated as "in addition to" what was already spent on the targeted groups based upon the previous year. If special ed funding, much of which comes from the GF, is part of the equation, how can that be "in addition to"? And, as money is so darn fungible, … Read More

      I was under the impression, but certainly could be wrong on the specifics, that S and C grant money expenditures were intended to be calculated as “in addition to” what was already spent on the targeted groups based upon the previous year. If special ed funding, much of which comes from the GF, is part of the equation, how can that be “in addition to”?

      And, as money is so darn fungible, the $133M then becomes available for “whatever”.

    • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

      This disagreement over what constitutes appropriate spending to meet the LCFF goals underscores one of the fundamental problems of the law: despite oversight by county boards, will the courts have to adjudicate these controversies for the CDE and will those harmed by alleged failures of districts to address the goals via appropriate spending have the resources to bring suit? Can Public Advocates and other watchdog groups be the de facto monitors for the CDE … Read More

      This disagreement over what constitutes appropriate spending to meet the LCFF goals underscores one of the fundamental problems of the law: despite oversight by county boards, will the courts have to adjudicate these controversies for the CDE and will those harmed by alleged failures of districts to address the goals via appropriate spending have the resources to bring suit? Can Public Advocates and other watchdog groups be the de facto monitors for the CDE and whatever happened to governmental enforcement of the law?

      Right out of the gate we have the largest district already under potential threat of litigation over LCFF. Will LCFF’s loosy-goosy, vague and debatable spending requirements for S and C grants turn into a fiasco for Brown, Torlakson, the CDE and, most importantly, the students of California public schools?

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