Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Los Angeles ACLU and Public Council force an end to fake classes for poor Oakland kids

My respect for the ACLU of Southern California (the Los Angeles branch) is reaffirmed. But once again I am disappointed in the San Diego ACLU.  Who is calling the shots in the San Diego ACLU regarding school issues? Certainly not people who are interested in equal education or civil rights for ordinary students and employees. 

A lawsuit was brought against the state of California by the Public Council and the ACLU of Southern California regarding fake classes for poor kids.

  “Settlement in suit over Oakland schools’ ‘sham’ classes
Jill Tucker
November 5, 2015

Students in Oakland and two other California school districts will no longer have to languish in bogus courses or miss weeks of class because of scheduling fiascoes, under a settlement reached in a lawsuit targeting the loss of learning time in some of the state’s lowest-performing schools.

The class-action lawsuit said that students at Castlemont and Fremont high schools in Oakland, along with four schools in Los Angeles and Compton (Los Angeles County), received much less learning time than other, more affluent children across the state. Civil rights attorneys filed the case against the state Department of Education and Board of Education, saying the state and not individual school districts are responsible for ensuring all students have the opportunity to get an education.

Other court cases have challenged unequal access to quality teachers or classroom materials, but this was the first case in the country to address the time students spend learning, plaintiffs’ attorneys said.

The suit cited cases in which youths had been assigned to “sham” courses that had them perform tasks in the school office or pick up trash.

Schools cited in the lawsuit had students retake courses they had already passed or sent them home early because there was no room in classes, attorneys said. Some schools employed rotating substitute teachers rather than fill full-time vacancies, the suit said.

The state Board of Education voted to approve the settlement Thursday. The agreement requires state education officials to track students assigned to classes without educational content and provide assistance in class scheduling if necessary. The settlement also requires the state to pay $400,000 in attorneys’ fees.

“No child’s time in school is disposable,” said Kathryn Eidmann, staff attorney with Public Counsel, a public interest law firm that filed the suit with the American Civil Liberties Union in Alameda County Superior Court. “Many students in California’s most disadvantaged schools were put in fake classes, made to run errands, sit in the back of classrooms or go home early.”