L.A. Unified School District facing lawsuit over handling of distance learning

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A group of parents and organizations plan to file a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Unified School District Thursday, alleging its distance learning plan “violates students’ rights to a basic public education.”

The suit also alleges that Black and Latino students, those learning English and students with disabilities were disproportionately affected when learning moved online.

The group says LAUSD schools give students the least amount of remote learning time, compared to California’s other five large districts.

The allegations on disparities echo findings released by the district after the spring semester.

More than 50,000 Black and Latino students in middle and high school students did not regularly participate in the school’s virtual classroom platform after campuses closed in March, according to a report released by LAUSD in July.

The analysis by the district also found that English learners, students with disabilities and homeless students also had lower online participation rates.

The transition online has highlighted the uneven access to technology and internet connections. And many Angelenos have said they struggle to keep their children on pace.

With the start of the fall semester, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said the district will be addressing the digital divide by making sure all students have proper devices and internet access. There will also be voluntary one-on-one tutoring online and in person “for students who need it most.”

The district says it has provided more than 400,000 devices to students.

With exception of elementary schools that get waivers, schools in California can’t reopen for in-person instruction until their county moves into the red tier — the second stage in the state’s COVID-19 color-coded system for reopenings — and stay there for two weeks.

Currently, L.A. County is in the preceding purple tier, which is the most restrictive of the stages due to widespread coronavirus activity.

The suit against LAUSD is expected to be filed in Los Angeles Superior Court Thursday afternoon.

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