Teachers with the Los Angeles Unified School District are drawing closer to a strike as the war of words breaks out between the union and government officials over pay negotiations.
A teacher's strike would cancel classes for over half a million students. The teachers union says the negotiations aren't just for a pay raise, but also for obtaining school psychologists, nurses, counselors, librarians at every campus. They also want to reduce class size, and they say they've been negotiating for two years, and are hoping to achieve their goals on Monday when they meet with officials at City Hall.
UTLA, the teacher's union, argues that LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner, an investment banker by trade is strategically holding on to an unrestricted school reserve fund of nearly $2 billion.
"Austin Beutner, with experience in corporate downsizing but not in education, argues that the reserve should be held, cuts made, and privately run corporate charter schools expanded," UTLA Bargaining Chari Arlene Inouye said.
They called it intentional starvation and privatization plans. If a deal isn't reached on Monday, on Jan. 10 more than 30,000 teachers will go on strike.
LAUSD confirmed that they are hiring substitute teachers should there be a walkout.
"We believe that it's illegal to hire folks in the way that they're doing that to break a potential strike," UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said.
The district also filed a complaint in court on Thursday to prevent Special Education teachers from going on strike.
Some parents of special needs students said if students are truly the priority here, why not allow those 14.5 percent of LAUSD teachers who serve the disabled student population stay in class? Some parents say that educators are well aware that a substitute teacher in a special needs class is not the same as a regular class.
"Those educators are not going to have their fundamental rights to advocate, be a part of their union, especially when it has to do with advocating for those very students," Caputo-Pearl said.
The school district said they do have a plan for those special needs students if those teachers do go on strike as well. They are hoping to hear the court's decision on Monday on whether or not those special education teachers will be prevented from striking.
LAUSD is the largest school district in the country. The last time LAUSD teachers went on strike was 30 years ago, and it lasted for 9 days.