LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Some parents were outraged Tuesday after the board for the Los Angeles Unified School District Tuesday approved a proposal which eases the security checks for volunteers ahead of the imminent teacher strike.
The board passed a proposal that eases background check requirements for some parent volunteers in anticipation of the need for help in the event of a strike, which is scheduled to begin Thursday if the teachers’ union and the district doesn’t reach an eleventh-hour deal.
Those volunteers will not need to pass a full federal background check, but will still be checked against a national database of sex offenders.
Dozens of parents showed up at LAUSD headquarters demanding answers regarding who will be supervising their children during the strike.
“The school district has failed, they have a specific obligation to the children, and they failed it,” parent Carl Petersen told CBS2. “They’ve had, what is it, two years now, in contract negotiations, and they don’t want to settle.”
Following 20 months of unsuccessful negotiations, about 30,000 members of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) will walk off the job, the first such strike in 30 years for the second largest school district in the nation, serving 600,000 students.
At issue between the two sides has been pay, class size and the hiring of more support staff such as nurses, counselors and librarians. LAUSD has offered a 6 percent pay hike retroactive to July 1, 2016, while United Teachers Los Angeles is demanding a 6.5 percent salary increase.
Negotiations also hinge on the debate between public schools and privatizing schools through charters. The union wants to ensure that privatization doesn’t cut public school funding.
UTLA President Alex-Caputo Pearl told reporters that another bargaining session is scheduled for Wednesday. The two sides could not meet Tuesday because UTLA leaders had to be in court over the issue of whether the union provided LAUSD the legally required 10-day notice that its members would stop working under the existing contract.
The union’s goal is to preempt the district from going to court on the same issue after a strike begins, the Los Angeles Times reports. If that occurred, a judge could shut down the strike for several days, dampening its momentum.
At Tuesday’s protest, parent Joanna Belson told CBS2 unmanageable class sizes and under-staffing have been an issue for as long as her fourth and sixth-graders have been in school.
“I support this strike because it’s important to me and my family that my kids get a proper education,” Belson said. “I’m sick and tired of my kid only having art half of the year, having a gym teacher only if we give additional funds to pay for it.”
Belson added that she and many other parents are standing in solidarity with teachers.
“They are fighting for our kids,” Belson said. “They are demanding nurses every day — not just on Tuesday — counselors every day. We have an epidemic of issues with our children in this society today. They need counseling.”
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)