Lawsuit Claims That Los Angeles is Misallocating Funds Due to High Needs Students

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Lawsuit Claims That Los Angeles is Misallocating Funds Due to High Needs Students

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is using improper financial practices in implementing the state’s new Local Control Funding Formula, according to the allegations in a lawsuit filed earlier this month by the American Civil Liberties Union, Public Advocates and Covington & Burling LLP. The plaintiffs, the Community Coalition, South Los Angeles and LA Parent Reyna Frias, claim that the LAUSD is failing to utilize funds that should be directed to low-income youth, foster children and English Language learners (ELLs).

The Local Control Funding Formula requires school districts to increase services for particular groups of students in proportion to the increase in funds apportioned under the formula on the basis of the number and concentration of that group of pupils in the school district.  The lawsuit alleges that by counting prior spending for “special education” as spending on services for low-income students, English language learners and foster youth, it deprives many students in the latter categories of funding because not every special education students falls into those categories. The plaintiffs claim that LAUSD has already misallocated about $400 million over the past two years, and unless enjoined by the Court, is likely to deprive groups of high needs students of over $2 billion  over the next few years.

The finance reform law, known as the Local Control Funding Formula was implemented in 2013 by California Governor Jerry Brown. It provides an increase in funding for public schools over an eight year period, and, in particular it drives money toward students with high needs and to districts with large concentrations of such students.

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