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Steven A. Greenburg, Education Law
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Low-income schools to receive special education coordinators

There has been an ongoing lawsuit concerning layoffs of teachers in a number of low-income middle schools in Los Angeles Unified School District that has just been settled.  The so-called churning of teachers was said to be responsible for instability within the school district.  It has also been believed that higher rates of retention and additional specialized training will prevent further layoffs from occurring.

This matter of Reed v. the State of California ended with 37 middle and high-schools received $25 million in annual funding for the next three years to mentor teachers, provide additional training and hire additional administrators.  Each school will receive and additional counselor, assistant principal and a special education coordinator.

One problem in certain California school districts is that qualified special education instructors can be difficult to hire or retain at certain schools. Special education instructors can thus be exempted from seniority-based layoffs. Every teacher in the 37 schools will now receive a 40-hour training session. The school districts, however, will carry the burden in demonstrating that the training provided will justify being exempted from layoffs in the future.

There still remains concerns among teachers that the agreement "does not address all of the factors" that high-turnover and under-resourced schools face. However, there is belief that this settlement "promises to bring students across Los Angeles closer to the educational opportunity they deserve."

That such a lawsuit was brought at all demonstrates the problems we are still seeing in schools where children are being denied educational opportunities due to the unwillingness of districts or even the state to fully fund every school. That more funding will now be provided and every school will have in place a special education coordinator is at least a start. Still, more will continue to need to be done to make certain the needs of special needs children are met.

Source: EdSource, "Deal in L.A. Unified designed to protect 37 high-needs schools from layoffs," John Fensterwald, April 9, 2014

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