One of Governor Brown’s priorities is to close the achievement gap that disadvantages low-income students, English learners and foster youth students. The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) was created to help precisely these students by providing funds to help alleviate school inequalities. Unfortunately is not what is happening in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).
A lawsuit filed this week by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Public Advocates, in addition to a recent report by the University of California, Berkeley and the United Way of Los Angeles, all agree that the LAUSD has not directed these additional funds to those for whom they are designated. Instead, the money has used the money for other purposes.
LAUSD suffered draconian cuts during the recession at the very time that its expenses increased. Faced with this situation, the district used these funds to cover other costs, including in areas that supposedly were receiving their own designated monies. For example, the lawsuit states that in 2014-15, LAUSD used $450 million of these funds for special education students regardless of whether they qualified as a priority under LCFF.
By putting the money to special education instead of to students covered by LCCF means that the low-income, English learners and foster care youth were shortchanged $2 billion until 2020-21, according to the lawsuit.
The UC Berkeley report found that the LAUSD also allocated LCFF monies for other purposes such as hiring teachers, as well as instructional and administrative specialists throughout the district, based on the school’s size rather than being weighted to the LCCF students.
The Berkeley report clearly illustrates that the needs of students for whom the LCCF was designated lost out to other interests at stake when the budget was put together.
These funds are not for the general use at the discretion of the Board of Education. They were earmarked for a specific student population, a constituency already suffering from education inequalities who are now further victimized by having their funds stolen from them by LAUSD.