Charter schools may soon have a bit more trouble gaining access to Los Angeles Unified School District facilities after the Board of Education voted Tuesday to limit campus sharing.
The board’s 4-2 vote intends to “prevent charter schools from leasing space on almost 350 district sites in an effort to protect vulnerable Black, Latino and low-income students from the negative impacts of sharing a campus,” according to a report in the Los Angeles Daily News.
Charter schools, which enroll about 20% of public school students in L.A., often lease space on LAUSD campuses for their own students.
Sometimes, that leads to situations like that at Eastman Elementary, where a Los Angeles Times report indicated that damage from Tropical Storm Hilary forced about 75 charter students into the school’s library and auditorium, “straining resources and patience” on the main campus.
In a statement announcing the vote, the LAUSD Board said the requirement that public schools offer space to charter schools “has caused a myriad of educational, operational, safety, financial and legal challenges.”
“Parents, educators and students have described how co-locations have syphoned away needed resources from neighborhood schools, such as parent centers, computer labs and even space for electives,” the board detailed.
The board’s new policy, which the Times notes will return for a final vote “in 45 days with policy language vetted by district lawyers,” has faced opposition from supporters of charter schools.
While those against charter schools say those students are being prioritized over LAUSD students, Board Member Nick Melvoin, who voted against the measure, said the opposite is now true.
“My biggest challenge with this resolution is that the problem statement is ‘the status quo is preferencing some kids over others,’ so the response is ‘lets preference other kids over others,’” Melvoin said, as reported by the Daily News.
United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing LAUSD instructors, has long opposed charter schools sharing space on campus.
In a statement, UTLA member and teacher Fernando Chavez praised the board’s vote.
“We commend the school board for passing a resolution that protects the interests of our students, promotes equity, and establishes clear guidelines and expectations that benefit all involved,” he wrote. “With proper oversight on co-located schools, we can ensure that all students, regardless of their background or circumstances, have equal access to a high-quality education within LAUSD.”