UTLA demands halt to charter co-locations and new charter approvals

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UTLA demands halt to charter co-locations and new charter approvals

 

March 26, 2020

Austin Beutner Superintendent, LAUSD 333 S. 

Beaudry Ave. 

Los Angeles, CA 90017

 

Dear Superintendent Beutner and LAUSD School Board Members:

On behalf of the 34,000 members of United Teachers Los Angeles, I write to you to demand that LAUSD halt all new proposed charter co-locations for the 2020-21 school year.

Moreover, we demand a moratorium on the approval of any new charter schools until such time that our communities affected by COVID-19 have been cleared by the California Department of Health Services (CDPH) to safely participate in public meetings, per the Brown Act, that discuss any consideration of new charter school approvals.

The COVID-19 pandemic has already caused our schools to close and we still do not know with any certainty when schools will re-open. However, we do know that once there is a set return date, each school will have to rapidly learn and adopt to new standards to keep students, educators and families safe. Given the seriousness of this COVID-19 outbreak, the complexity of new public health standards to be implemented, and how quickly schools will have to adjust, there is simply not enough time for any new co-location or new charter approvals to be established in a healthy and safe way.

On the issue of co-location, students, staff and parents at currently co-located schools could face health risks and will have to work diligently to establish new norms and practices to ensure a healthy environment once school campuses re-open. For every currently co-located school campus scheduled for continued co-location next school year, we demand that the entire campus be assessed for safety protocols and guaranteed enough resources and staff (i.e. nursing and custodial) to ensure a clean, safe and healthy school environment. Moreover, charter operators that are currently scheduled to continue with existing co- locations next year must have their health and safety practices vigorously reviewed by LAUSD and the State immediately. If these charter entities are found to be lacking in health and safety protocols, they should immediately have their co-locations discontinued.

Additionally, at currently co-located schools, Shared Use Agreements must be reassessed and adjusted accordingly to appropriately reflect space needs based on actual ADA. Often charters over-project ADA and are approved more space than they actually qualify for, compromising valuable classroom space for the host District school. With this health crisis it is quite probable that many projected charter ADA’s will be vastly inaccurate. Additionally, joint co-location committees should be assessed and supported to ensure on- going dialogue and collaboration. And, it goes without saying that charter operators that are currently co-located cannot use this crisis as a time to take additional space from district schools.

To re-iterate, any effort to push new co-locations at this time would require that the public school and the charter school work together to develop a Shared Use Agreement, adjust to having multiple schools at one campus, and learn how to keep all students safe. District schools and charter schools working together effectively on one campus has already, before this crisis, been a challenge at almost every currently co-located facility. There is no way, in the current context, that a newly co-located District school community would have enough time to collaborate with a charter, implement new safety procedures and manage another school on their campus. Fundamentally, in this context, authorizing new charter co-locations for the 2020-21 school year would be irresponsible and jeopardize the health of students, parents, and educators. LAUSD must take immediate steps to ensure the ability of schools to operate safely once re- opened, and immediately halt the process of approving any new charter co-locations for the 2020-21 school year.

Just as important, we urge LAUSD to impose a moratorium on the approval of any new charter schools within District boundaries. There simply is not enough time or resources to adequately ensure that any new charter school adheres to health and safety protocols in the context of this public health crisis. In addition, in this time when all of our resources are critical to safeguarding the health and safety of our school communities and ensuring appropriate staffing, it doesn’t make sense to continue to approve new charters within District boundaries. Los Angeles is already over-saturated with charter schools and loses over $600 million/year in resources to unregulated charter growth. It is time to stop the bleeding and ensure that our existing classrooms and students are appropriately funded and protected.

Sincerely,

 

Alex Caputo-Pearl
President, United Teachers Los Angeles

CC: Gavin Newsom, Governor of California
Tony Thurmond, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles

 

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