Amanda Bronstad, The National Law Journal | http://bit.ly/1pQjm5c
October 6, 2014 :: A California judge is weighing whether to order state officials to intervene at a Los Angeles high school where students allege that administrative chaos has deprived them of “meaningful instruction time.”
Alameda County, Calif., Superior Court Judge George Hernandez Jr. had scheduled arguments Monday on a temporary restraining order after hearing initial arguments last Thursday. He refused to dismiss the case on Sept. 26.
Mark Neubauer. Courtesy photo>>
The hearing came in a class action brought on May 29 by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California and pro bono organization Public Counsel on behalf of children at seven public schools across California, claiming violations of the equal protection clauses of the California and U.S. constitutions.
The case—filed against the state of California, the California State Board of Education and the California Department of Education and its top official, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson—alleges that students, especially in poor and minority neighborhoods, are more likely to drop out or aren’t prepared for college because administrators consistently fail to create master schedules of courses, enroll students in the wrong classes or place them in “home” periods, where they perform administrative duties or are sent home.
The temporary restraining order the students seek would force state officials to intervene at L.A.’s Jefferson High School, where students complained they have been forced to wait for weeks to enroll in courses.
“When you see Jefferson, which is symptomatic of what’s going on in California and lower-income schools, it’s particularly acute,” said Mark Neubauer, a shareholder at Los Angeles-based Carlton Fields Jorden Burt. “They had a scheduling system that totally broke down. Now it’s eight weeks into the school year and kids still don’t have classes.”
The case is the latest to test California’s school system. In June, another judge found unconstitutional five statutes governing how the state’s teachers are fired, laid off or granted tenure.
Robin Johansen, founding partner of Remcho, Johansen & Purcell of San Leandro, Calif., who represents the defendants, did not return a call for comment. A call to the California attorney general’s office, which represents the state, was not returned.
In a Monday filing opposing the temporary restraining order, Johansen wrote that Los Angeles Unified School District’s board would take up Jefferson High School’s problems during an Oct. 14 meeting. None of the 11 students seeking to be added to the class action has admitted he or she won’t be able to graduate or attend college, the defense said. [emphasis added to accentuate the urgency]
smf: This is the case where Supt. Deasy sent a letter in support of the plaintiffs! Jefferson High School is in Dr. Vladovic’s board district.
“Thus, although the students have apparently had to endure a maddening degree of mismanagement from the school and the district to get them to this point, their declarations indicate that they now or will soon have all of the classes they need and some of the classes they want,” she wrote.