Community Coalition v. Los Angeles Unified School District is a lawsuit filed against the Los Angeles Unified School District for misallocating $450 million of state education funds under the Local Control Funding Formula, diverting it away from low-income students, English language learners, and foster youth. The case resulted in a 2016 decision by the California Department of Education (CDE) that required LAUSD to correct its spending plan and a historic settlement that provided over $150 million in additional services to 50 of LAUSD's highest-need schools.
On September 14, 2017, LAUSD, CDE, and the Petitioners entered into a settlement in which LAUSD agreed to provide roughly $150 million in additional spending to 50 schools over three school years. The schools were selected by analyzing multiple factors, including the number of high-need students, foster youth rates, homelessness rates, math scores, and suspension rates. The schools must spend the additional funds on services that specifically support high-need students, including academic, social and emotional support services, drop-out prevention programs, restorative justice programs, and parent engagement efforts.
The lawsuit asserted that LAUSD used improper accounting practices that subvert both the letter and spirit of the 2013 education finance reform law known as Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). Under LCFF, low-income students, English language learners, and foster youth are considered “high need students” and state education funds should be used to support their learning. Under LAUSD's spending plan, high-need students stood to millions of dollars of funding for essential services each year.
The law directs school districts to use state funds under LCFF to "increase or improve" services for the targeted students. Each school district calculates what it will spend partly on what it has spent in the past on such services. The lawsuit alleged that by counting prior spending for "special education" — which the district is already required to provide — as spending on services for low-income students, English language learners and foster youth, LAUSD would in effect reduce its legal obligation to those very students by millions of dollars each year.
On August 5, 2016, the CDE issued a decision in connection with the lawsuit requiring LAUSD to amend its spending plan to stop counting general special education funding as spending directed towards high-need students. Under that CDE's decision, special education students would still receive the same level of services they are now.
For more information on the Local Control Funding Formula, visit https://www.aclusocal.org/en/local-control-funding-formula.