July 1, 2013 | California enacts the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), a new education finance system. LCFF simplifies the school funding scheme and directs more resources (called “supplemental and concentration funds”) to some of California’s highest-need student groups: low-income, foster youth, and English language learner students. The new law also requires districts to develop annual Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP) that establish goals, describe what actions will be taken to achieve these goals, and detail how funds will be spent to increase or improve services to these high-need students, also known as unduplicated pupils.
January 16, 2014 | The State Board of Education enacts emergency regulations to establish a framework for LCFF implementation. Among other things, the emergency regulations require school districts to use supplemental and concentration funds to increase or improve services for all students in the three high-need student groups as compared to the services provided for all pupils.
Early April 2014 | LAUSD releases its proposed LCAP that includes $450 million that the district spent on special education services during the 2013-2014 year as part of its initial baseline calculation of spending on services for district’s high-need students, claiming a total allocation of $700 million to these students. The inclusion of this $450 million in the baseline reduces the amount of new state funds the district will spend on high-need students in 2014-15, violating the new law and regulations.
April 2014 | Public Advocates Inc. and the ACLU of California reach out to LAUSD staff within days of this release to discuss the legality of the district’s plan and inform LAUSD’s chief operating officer that its proposal would violate the regulations.
June 6, 2014 | Public Advocates Inc. and the ACLU of California contact then-Superintendent John Deasy by letter and request that the district remove the $450 million in special education expenditures from its estimate of services for high-need students and ensure that the district’s proposed supplemental and concentration spending for 2014-15 complies with the statute and regulations.
June 24, 2014 | The LAUSD school board adopts its 2014-2015 LCAP, which improperly includes $450 million in expenditures on special education as part of its prior year expenditure estimate, depriving high-need students of approximately $126 million in increased or improved services for 2014-15.
Mid-August 2014 | The Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), which is charged with ensuring that LAUSD’s LCAP complies with state regulations, initially withholds approval of the plan. LACOE seeks further explanation of the district’s inclusion of the disputed $450 million in special education expenditures.
September 5, 2014 | LACOE approves LAUSD’s 2014-2015 LCAP without modification.
November 14, 2014 | The State Board of Education enacts permanent regulations to establish a framework for LCFF implementation. The provisions regarding how school districts determine supplemental and concentration spending remain unchanged.
December 19, 2014 | Public Advocates Inc. and the ACLU of California send a letter to interim LAUSD Superintendent, Ramon Cortines, and the County Superintendent of Schools, Arturo Delgado reiterating their serious concerns and advise the district that they will pursue legal action unless LAUSD and LACOE agree to correct the LCAP.
January 2015 – June 2015 | Public Advocates Inc. and the ACLU of California conduct various meetings and telephone calls with LAUSD to attempt to resolve the issue.
June 23, 2015 | June 23, 2015: LAUSD’s Board of Education adopts its 2015-16 LCAP, which continues to count $450 million in special education spending from 2013-14 as services for high-need students. As a result, the district avoids expending roughly $288 million to increase or improve services for the three high-need student groups.
July 1, 2015 | The ACLU of California, Public Advocates Inc. and Covington & Burling LLP file a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against LAUSD and LACOE on behalf of a parent of low-income LAUSD students and Community Coalition, a non-profit organization that works to improve educational opportunities for low-income students and students of color in Los Angeles. The lawsuit alleges that LAUSD has breached its mandatory duties under the Education Code and relevant regulations by manipulating a calculation in its LCAP that will shortchange high-need students of hundreds of millions of dollars each year, and LACOE violated its duties by approving LAUSD’s deficient LCAP.