LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles Unified School District students have succeeded in their mission to have peer representation on the school board following a string of protests.
Members of a group called Students for Education Reform camped out overnight in front of district headquarters in downtown L.A. to reserve speaking rights for activists seeking a say in the district’s budget.
Citing a section in the California State Education Code from 1976, which calls for at least one non-voting pupil member, school board members voted Tuesday to approve the inclusion of a student.
Dozens of students meanwhile staged a protest outside of the meeting, placing hundreds of empty desks outside to represent the kids who drop out of school each week.
“I sometimes sit in classrooms where the size is about 70 students for one classroom and I don’t think it’s right,” high school junior Ashley Perez told CBS2’s Jeff Nguyen.
“Adults represent adults because they think like adults, they act like adults. We think differently. We act differently,” student Airy Pulido said.
Tuesday’s demonstration came after Superintendent John Deasy introduced a first draft of his $6.8 billion budget for the upcoming three school years. It features staff raises, as well as investments towards foster kids and low-income students.
Deasy says the improvements will go to schools with the most needs first.
“So it’s not an even distribution across the system. It’s a concentration. And then when we meet the obligation of the concentration, we then move to other schools,” Deasy said.
The kids were hoping to have a voice in such matters but the board voted against their proposal, which included a democratic selection process for a student board member.
Instead, it will be up to Superintendent Deasy to decide how that position will be filled.
Deasy will have 120 days to figure out “how that student member will be seated and what is the role and parameter of their responsibilities,” school board member Steve Zimmer said.
A final version of the budget must be completed for board approval by June 17.