LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A group of parents has filed a class action lawsuit against the Los Angeles Unified School District over its distance learning plan, alleging the district is violating students’ rights.
“I am a parent who is here ready to fight for my child,” Keshara Shaw said.
On Thursday, Shaw stood outside the Los Angeles Superior Courthouse with other families, blasting the district’s remote learning plan that they said disproportionately impacts Black and Latino students as well as those with disabilities.
The parents are calling on a judge to issue a preliminary injunction to stop the district from continuing with its distance learning plan until changes are made, alleging that communication and support for students and families have been insufficient.
“It’s been chaotic trying to learn and teach at the same time,” Shaw said. “On top of [that], I’m an essential worker, so I’m working 14 hours.”
The lawsuit alleges that, prior to the COVID-19 mandated school closures, Black and Latino students were already achieving well below state standards for their grade levels — a gap that was only going to widen under the district’s current distance learning plan.
“My kids — only in kindergarten, second and third grade — are being asked to use online systems that are confusing and far above their grade levels,” Akela Wroten Jr., a father, said.
The lawsuit says that students are getting nearly 60% less live learning time and access to their teachers under the district’s agreement with United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing teachers.
Under that agreement, the school day has been cut to roughly five hours with students receiving about 90 minutes of live instruction per day.
And while the the L.A. County Department of Public Health gave permission for K-12 schools to welcome back students with extra needs, including those studying English as a second language and those that “needing assessments or specialized in-school services,” earlier this month, parents say it is not enough.
“It is LAUSD’s job to give our children, and us as parents, the tools we need to succeed,” Shaw said.
In response to the suit, LAUSD issued a statement that said, in part:
“Since school closed in March, LA Unified has been working to bridge the digital divide ensuring all students have devices and access to the internet. It has also sought innovative ways to engage students online.”
District officials say they have not yet been served with a copy of the lawsuit, and UTLA has not yet responded publicly.