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Charters vs. school board, a battle over classroom space reignites at LAUSD – Daily News

Proposed new limits on charter schools’ sharing of campus space with district-run schools have reignited long smoldering tensions in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

LAUSD School Board President Jackie Goldberg and Board Member Rocío Rivas are proposing that charter schools not be allowed to lease classroom space at about 346 district-run school sites in an effort to protect vulnerable Black, Latino and low-income students from what they argue are negative impacts of sharing a campus.

The board discussed the proposed policy at a Sept. 19 meeting and is expected to vote on it in October.

The proposal has been met with praise from several board members, the teachers’ union United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and parents at district-run schools.

“This resolution would allow all students a chance at a fair well-resourced education,” said UTLA Treasurer Gloria Martinez. “UTLA is not against charter school students, educators or families, but we do want to make sure district schools are set up for success, supported and encouraged to thrive.”

The proposal has generated fierce pushback from the charter school community which views it as discriminatory and possibly illegal. While the board meeting took place inside LAUSD’s headquarters on Wednesday, the California Charter School Association (CCSA) held a press conference on the steps outside to decry the proposed rules.

“For many years, we have been struggling to have a fair policy at LAUSD that allocates the space according to need, and without discriminating on the basis of whether a school is a charter public school, a magnet or a district operated school,” said CCSA President/CEO Myrna Castrejón. “So we’re simply here to stand up and say, ‘hey, this is unlawful’.”

Board member Rivas said that the proposed rules have been vetted and determined legal by LAUSD’s counsel.

The district is legally required under Proposition 39 to lease empty classroom space to accommodate charter school students. Of the district’s approximate 530,000 Transitional Kindergarten through Grade 12 students, about 108,000 are enrolled in charter schools.

There are 52 instances where a charter school is “colocated” — shares a campus space — with a district-run school. These colocations are spread across 50 sites, which represent about 6.7% of all LAUSD-owned district sites.

In some instances, the relationship between colocated schools is relatively harmonious, but in other cases the schools find themselves battling over playground access, drop off locations, lunch slots, classrooms for special needs students, space for after school activities and more.

“When we colocate charters on some schools, we are saying to that school that the room your staff was using to working with deaf students is no longer available, because under state law it’s an empty classroom” said Goldberg. “So go find a corner of your auditorium–or as one of my schools does, assign space on the stairwell in between the first and second floor–and go have your work with disabled students done by an itinerant teacher there.”

The proposed policy would specifically seek to prevent charter schools from being colocated at about 346 school sites including the district’s 100 Priority Schools, which are identified by low-academic achievement; and at Black Student Achievement Plan schools, which have the highest concentrations of Black students; and at community schools, which provide extra supportive services to families in low-income communities.

“This resolution is an effort to prevent some of the worst impacts of Prop. 39, most of which I believe were unintended,” said Goldberg. “It’s intended to create criteria that protect innovative programs and minimize the harm that colocations do to our most vulnerable students and schools.”

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