LAUSD must answer for today's lack of leadership

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LAUSD Saddleridge Fire

Starting at 5 a.m. this morning, UTLA reached out to district personnel to close all impacted schools in the Valley. Instead of closing campuses immediately, district officials told more than 10,000 educators and tens of thousands more students and parents that schools were open for business and they were expected to navigate toxic fire and smoke conditions.
 
Because of the road closures, many educators could not make it to schools. Meanwhile, students at many schools were packed into classrooms, cafeterias, and auditoriums. We heard of smoky, overcrowded classrooms where air-conditioning could not be used. We heard of sites running out of air masks for people with asthma. 
 
It wasn’t until mid-morning that a minimum day was announced for students; meanwhile, educators were told to stay the entire school day. We received reports that some were told to complete PD time or, if they left, they had to use personal necessity hours. We demand that district officials do not punish educators, staff, and students for their own lack of leadership on a day when all schools should have been closed.
 
We are stunned that district leaders kept schools open while surrounding district schools, private schools, charter schools, and colleges, including CSU Northridge, were all appropriately closed.
 
Our schools needed real leadership today — and we didn’t get it. The district must answer for its shameful inaction. 
 
We will keep on top of developments over the weekend and be in touch as needed. 
 
Stay safe.

—The UTLA Officers
Alex C-P, Cecily, Juan, Gloria, Daniel, Alex O, Arlene