Deasy supports state intervention in Jefferson HS scheduling mess
Craig Clough | October 3, 2014
In a move supported by LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy, several civil rights organizations asked a judge yesterday to order the state to address the scheduling mess plaguing Jefferson High School, where computer glitches have caused many students to go for two months without the correct classes.
Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of the teachers union, UTLA, today attacked Deasy as “unbelievably hypocritical” for supporting the lawsuit.
In seeking a temporary restraining order, the American Civil Liberties Union, Public Counsel and other groups say the state has ignored its responsibility to give Jefferson students meaningful learning time. It is related to a lawsuit, Cruz vs. California, brought earlier this year by the groups that alleges the state has ignored its responsibility to give all California students an adequate level of instruction.
Michael Soller, a spokesman for Public Counsel, said the legal request had two parts, the first asking the court to add the students from Jefferson to the seven schools that are part of the Cruz lawsuit.
If that request is granted, the second move would be to “[ask] the state for a temporary restraining order, which wouldn’t stop the state from doing something, it would stop the state from not doing something,” Soller told LA School Report.
David Sapp, director of education advocacy at the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, said the temporary restraining order does not specifically outline what the state should do at Jefferson, only that it immediately come up with a plan.
Two of the schools seven schools in the Cruz case are in LA Unified —Fremont High School and Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary School. Another two are in Compton Unified —Compton High and Franklin S. Whaley Middle School.
In August, hundreds of students staged a walkout at Jefferson after glitches with the district’s new MiSiS computer system gave many students the wrong classes. The problems have persisted into October.
“Students at Jefferson High School have lost weeks of learning time due to confusion over master schedules, improperly assigned classes, faux classes called ‘service periods’ or because they have simply been sent home because no classes are available,” Public Counsel stated in a press release.
Deasy supported the lawsuit in a letter to the court.
“These courses serve no conceivable pedagogical purpose and defy every norm and standard adhered to by professional educators,” Deasy wrote, according to the Los Angeles Times. “The fact that these courses are used anywhere is antithetical to education, but the fact that they are being assigned to students who are academically behind and have not fulfilled graduation and college entry requirements is outrageous.”
Caputo-Pearl said in a press released from the union that it was the district’s computerized student-tracking system, MiSiS, supported by Deasy, that caused the disruptions to students.
“It is the height of hypocrisy for John Deasy to act as if he is supportive of this suit when he is singularly responsible for having rushed headlong into implementing MISIS, which still, multiple weeks into the school year, has students without schedules and prospective college students without transcripts,” Caputo-Pearl said, adding, “This is unbelievably hypocritical.”
Senior Daniela Echavarria told LA School Report in August that she had been complaining to school administrators ever since she noticed that she was missing three classes and that other students were missing electives, were scheduled for classes that they already had taken or were scheduled for two classes at the same time.
“At first it was a really big mess, I had a bunch of ninth grade classes,” she said. “I didn’t even have an English class… It seems to me that the district doesn’t really care about what’s going on in the school. I don’t feel like they’re doing their job right as educators.”
An Alameda County Superior Court judge is expected to rule on the request on Monday.
* Adds comments from Alex Caputo-Pearl.