Los Angeles Unified School District

Los Angeles Unified School District
Los Angeles Unified School District
LAUSD Logo.svg
Type and location
Type Public
Established 1961
Country United States
Location Los Angeles, Surrounding Areas
District Info
Superintendent John E. Deasy
Budget $7.3 billion
Students and staff
Students 694,288
Teachers 45,473
Other information
Schools 730
Teachers' unions United Teachers Los Angeles, California Teachers Association
Website lausd.net

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is the largest (in terms of number of students) public school system in California. It is the 2nd largest public school district in the United States. Only the New York City Department of Education has a larger student population. During the 2007-2008 school year, LAUSD served 694,288 students, and had 45,473 teachers and 38,494 other employees.[1] It is the second largest employer in Los Angeles County, after the county government.[2] The total school district budget for 2009-2010 is $7.3 billion.[3] In enrollment breakdown by ethnic group, 73% of its students were of Hispanic origin and 11% of its students were African American. White American students comprise 9% of the student population, while Asian American students comprise 4%; students of Filipino origin form 2% of the student population. Native Americans and Pacific Islanders together are less than 1%.[1]

The school district consists of Los Angeles and all or portions of several adjoining Southern California cities. LAUSD has its own police force, the Los Angeles School Police Department, which was established in 1948 to provide police services for LAUSD schools.[4] The LAUSD enrolls a third of the preschoolers in Los Angeles County, and operates almost as many buses as the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.[5] The LAUSD school construction program rivals the Big Dig in terms of expenditures, and LAUSD cafeterias serve about 500,000 meals a day, rivaling the output of local McDonald's restaurants.[5]

The LAUSD has a reputation for extremely crowded schools with large class sizes, high drop-out[6] and expulsion rates, low academic performance in many schools, poor maintenance and incompetent administration.[7][8] In 2007, LAUSD's dropout rate was 26 percent for grades 9 through 12.[9] Bond issues and ambitious renovation programs have not uniformly eased these conditions.[10] As part of its school-construction project, LAUSD opened two high schools (Santee Education Complex and South East) in 2005 and four high schools (Arleta, Contreras Learning Complex, Panorama, and East Valley) in 2006.[11]



LAUSD headquarters just west of Downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles Unified School District is governed by a seven-member Board of Education, which appoints a superintendent, who runs the daily operations of the district. Members of the board are elected directly by voters from separate districts that encompass communities that the LAUSD serves. The district's current superintendent is John Deasy. He succeeds Ramon C. Cortines. Cortines was appointed acting superintendent after the school board decided to buyout the contract of David M. Brewer III, a former Navy Vice-Admiral who served as head of the Navy's Education and Training Division and was in charge of the SeaLift Command. From 2001 until his retirement in October, 2006, the district was led by former Colorado governor and Democratic Party chairman Roy Romer.

The seven current members of Board of Education include Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte (District 1), Board President Monica Garcia (District 2),Tamar Galatzan (District 3), Steve Zimmer (District 4), Bennett Kayser (District 5), Nury Martinez (District 6), and Richard Vladovic (District 7).[12]

Every LAUSD household or residential area is zoned to an elementary school, a middle school and a high school, in one of the eight local school districts. Each local school district is run by an area superintendent and is headquartered within the district.


Year Student Enrollment
1993-1994 639,129
1994-1995 632,973
1995-1996 647,612
1996-1997 667,305
1997-1998 680,430
1998-1999 695,885
1999-2000 710,007
2000-2001 721,346
2001-2002 735,058
2002-2003 746,852
2003-2004 747,009
2004-2005 741,367
2005-2006 727,319
2006-2007 707,626
2007-2008 694,288

The Los Angeles Unified School District was once composed of two separate districts: the Los Angeles City School District, formed on September 19, 1853, and the Los Angeles City High School District, formed in 1890. The latter provided 9-12 educational services, while the former did so for K-8. On July 1, 1961 the LA City school district and the Palos Verdes School District merged, forming the Los Angeles Unified School District.[13]

The annexation left the Topanga School District and the Las Vergenes Union School District (then renamed to the West County Union High School District) as separate remnants of the high school district. The high school district changed its name to the West County Union High School District. LAUSD annexed the Topanga district on July 1, 1962. Since the Las Vergenes Union School District had the same boundary as the remaining West County Union High School District, on July 1, 1962 West County ceased to exist.[13]


In 1963, a lawsuit, Crawford v. Board of Ed. of Los Angeles[14] was filed to end segregation in the district. The California Supreme Court required the district to come up with a plan in 1977. The board returned to court with what the court of appeal years later would describe as "one of if not the most drastic plan of mandatory student reassignment in the nation."[15] A desegregation busing plan was developed to be implemented in the 1978 school year. Two lawsuits to stop the enforced busing plan, both titled Bustop, Inc. v. Los Angeles Bd. of Ed., were filed by the group Bustop Inc. and were petitioned to the United States Supreme Court.[16][17] The petitions to stop the busing plan were subsequently denied by Justice Rehnquist and Justice Powell. California Constitutional Proposition 1, which mandated that busing follow the Equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution passed in 1979 with 70% of the vote. The Crawford v. Board of Ed. of Los Angeles lawsuit was heard in the Supreme Court in 1982.[18] The Supreme Court upheld the decision that Proposition 1 was constitutional.


Various attempts at program reform have been attempted. In one reform, individual schools were given more authority over day to day decisions and public school choice was implemented. In the 1990s, LEARN and LAAMP were created, giving principals even more authority to make changes in curriculum hopefully benefiting students. Regardless, student achievement failed to increase.[19]

Later attempted reform led to the creation of eleven minidistricts with decentralized management and their own individual superintendents.[20] Due to the cost of this additional bureaucracy, then Superintendent Romer called for reversing the measure and re-merging the minidistricts. United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing LAUSD teachers, supported this plan. Eight numbered Local Districts arose from the merger replacing the eleven districts.


LAUSD school bus

Although grappling with economic shortfalls, the Los Angeles Unified School District continues to employ consultants. In 2008, the district employed more than 800 consultants - paid, on average, more than twice as much as regular employees - to oversee school construction. The Facilities Services Division spends about $182 million on its 849 consultants, almost $215,000 each. The division's regular employees are paid about $99,000 each. At the time, Senior Deputy Superintendent Ramon Cortines said that consultants may get the work done quickly and correctly, but said he is also concerned about the district's reliance on outside workers. "We need to look at it, to reduce the number of consultants," he said. In the seven main branches of the Facilities Services Division, there are 3,479 district employees who earn a total of about $347 million, according to district records. The division employs 849 consultants who earn a total of about $182.6 million.[21]

The practice has prompted concerns and a growing number of inquiries from the district's board members and LAUSD's bond oversight committee. Some district officials defend the practice, saying use of consultants ebbs and flows with the various stages of construction.

Efforts to reform Facilities by Superintendent Ramon Cortines, from 2009–2010, has continued to result in union complaints and audit issues regarding consultants. Former Chief of Facilities James Sohn, hired on 2009, lead the effort to reduce consultant payments by 20% and increase consultant company competition. However, this effort has been ridiculed by audits from Los Angeles County Controller Wendy Greuel [22] and confidential internal audits by the Office of Inspector General in LAUSD[23] that consistently found lax oversight and conflicts of interest. The confidential report by the OIG office, prompted by whistleblowers, found “irregularities in $65 million worth of contracts.” This includes costs that exceed pre-approved amounts by 50% and contracts worth $31 million without school board approval. James Sohn’s declaration to decrease 20% consultants costs were also shown to be disingenuous by the OIG audit report which found many consultants switched companies with a higher billing rate, offsetting the 20% reduction and companies increased hourly billing rate prior to the 20% reduction, therefore negating any difference. James Sohn disputes these charges.

James Sohn has also introduced a new contract type, called Agency Construction Manager (Agency CM) which claim to offer many benefits, including maximizing consultant services, lower costs, increase productivity and increase small business competition (see Construction Management).[24] Agency CM is an attempt to replace the old consultant model of billing for an hourly rate in favor of a “lump sum task order”. Task orders are designed to provide payment for completion of a particular task, regardless of the amount of hours worked. Criticisms with this include the lack of adequate tracking of consultant employees. Comparing district to consultant staffing would not be accurate. These contracts were also cited in the confidential OIG report as “vague” in detail.[25] Teamster union officials have also complained about layoffs within Facilities that have resulted in massive district demotions and layoffs.[26] Teamster representative, Connie Oser, has alleged that district staff have been removed while consultant contracts have been continuously and repeatedly approved by the board, consultant employees shuffled between companies, and the use of Agency CM, which enables tracking of consultants, difficult. Superintendent Ramon Cortines and former Chief Facilities Sohn have both claimed consultants have been reduced in far greater numbers than district staff. This claim cannot be verified since the use of Agency CM contracts.

Allegations have also surfaced against James Sohn’s management staff. Many of his Executive level staff have been prior consultants. The Director of Facilities Program Management, Margaret Brown, has a pending lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and retaliation in San Ramon Unified, of which three of four cases have been settled.[27] James Sohn has also been criticized for his attempt to purge all non-legally required documents in each employee computer system.[28] After Teamsters union complaints, LAUSD halted this practice. James Sohn claimed this is a customary process done by construction programs. He did not provide any evidence to support this claim.

Twenty-first century

The High School of Performing Arts opened in 2009

On November 16, 2007, the WorldNet Daily posted "Battle-scarred 'sub' in L.A. barrios speaks out" by Migdia Chinea Varela, a screenwriter and former substitute teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Chinea stated that, in many schools she served, the students had no interest in learning, abused the teachers, vandalized property, and joined gangs. Chinea, who was injured on the job, stated that teachers are underpaid and under-appreciated in the district. She described the campuses in LAUSD as a "mess, filthy, dilapidated and without supplies." Chinea believes that the district is taking little action against the conditions rampant in various low-income schools.[29]

On January 5, 2008 Sandy Banks of the Los Angeles Times reported that vandals and thieves targeted LAUSD schools in various neighborhoods during holidays. Banks said that the lack of police presence allows thieves to target schools.[30]

33-year old Alberto Gutierrez sued the Los Angeles Unified School District, saying that the principal of the San Fernando High School, where he was assigned, retaliated against him when Gutierrez asked students to "think critically" about the role of the United States in the Iraq War. Jose Luis Rodriguez, the principal, says that he spoke to Gutierrez because some parents did not appreciate Gutierrez requiring students to attend off-campus screenings of Fahrenheit 9/11 and Crash.[31]

Assembly Bill 1381

After his election to Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa advocated bringing control of the public school system under his office, removing power from the Board of Education.[32] This sparked some protest from teachers, LAUSD board members and many residents of communities not within the City of Los Angeles but served by LAUSD.

In August, 2006, after a compromise was brokered which allowed the mayor large control while retaining an elected school board and allowing input to be provided from surrounding cities, California State Assembly Bill 1381 passed, giving the mayor a measure of control over district administration. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the law on September 18, 2006. The Board of Education immediately filed suit to block the law, claiming that it violates the state constitution by allowing a local government to take over an educational agency.

AB 1381 was required to sunset on January 1, 2013, unless extended by the Legislature.[33] On December 21, 2006, AB 1381 was ruled unconstitutional. The mayor appealed, but later dropped his appeal as two of the candidates he supported for school board were elected, essentially giving him indirect control over the school district.[34]

Payroll system

In 2004, a new payroll system project began, with Deloitte Consulting engaged to customize software purchased from SAP AG. The Deloitte contract was $55,000,000 (U.S.) with the total cost estimated to be $95,000,000.[8] The system went live in January 2007. As of 2008, a number of problems have been experienced with some staff getting overpaid and some underpaid, or even not at all. Deloitte representatives and District officials have pointed fingers at each other.[8] Some of the problems have been software and hardware, some have been due to the complexity of labor agreements, salary scales, work rules and job assignments within the district.[8]

LAUSD cities and unincorporated areas

Leo Politi Elementary School, Los Angeles, California
Tenth Street School

Source: Los Angeles Times LAUSD serves all of the following communities:

and portions of the following communities:

List of schools and properties


LAUSD has 219 year-round schools and 439 schools on the traditional calendar. About 47% of all LAUSD students are enrolled in year round schools.[35]

Edward R. Roybal Learning Center

Edward R. Roybal Learning Center near Downtown Los Angeles

The Edward R. Roybal Learning Center (previously known as Belmont Learning Center or Vista Hermosa Learning Center), in the densely populated Westlake district just west of downtown, was originally envisioned as a mixed-use education and retail complex to include several schools, shops and a public park. After more than a decade of delays stemming from the environmental review process, ground was broken for construction in 1995 . Midway through construction it was discovered that explosive methane and toxic hydrogen sulfide were seeping from an old underground oil field. Later, an active surface fault was found under one of the completed buildings, necessitating its removal. The LAUSD had spent an estimated $175 million dollars on the project by 2004, with an additional $110 million budgeted for cleanup efforts. The total cost is estimated by LAUSD at $300 million. Critics have speculated that it may end up costing closer to $500 million. Designed by architectural firm DLR Group WWCOT, the school opened in 2008 as Edward R. Roybal Learning Center.

The Ambassador Hotel (Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools)

Another controversial project has been the development of The Ambassador Hotel property on Wilshire Boulevard in densely populated Koreatown. The LAUSD fought over the landmark with, among others, Donald Trump (with the legal battle dating back to 1989). In 2001, the LAUSD finally obtained legal ownership of the property. Plans to demolish the building, the site where Senator Robert F. Kennedy was shot, were met with strong opposition from preservationists. In August 2005, LAUSD settled a lawsuit over the matter that had been filed by numerous preservationist groups: most of the Ambassador complex would be destroyed, but the Paul Williams-designed coffee shop and the Coconut Grove nightclub would be preserved[citation needed], with the Grove serving as the auditorium for a new school to be built on the site. Demolition began in late 2005 and the last section of the hotel fell on January 16, 2006.

The project construction became the most expensive school in the United States. It Has 3 Elementary Schools, 3 Middle Schools, 4 High Schools including LAHSA. The Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools opened in September 2010 at the cost of $578 million to serve 4,200 K-12 students. Costs in 2010 were $350 per 1 square foot (0.093 m2). Amidst great controversy the district attributed the high costs to material, land prices, seismic code, and unionized labor.[36]

Santee Dairy

In 2005, soil samples taken at the LAUSD-owned site of a former Santee Dairy facility in South Los Angeles found high levels of carcinogens in soil used as foundation fill for a high school then under construction. A small controversy brewed on the matter, with some neighborhood activists and LAUSD critics claiming a repeat of the Belmont Learning Center fiasco. State scientists determined that the contaminated soil was sufficiently deep to pose no threat to students on the site, and the now-called Santee Educational Complex opened its doors in July 2005.

Park Avenue Elementary School

On February 9, 2000, the Los Angeles Weekly published an article about the environmental troubles of Park Avenue Elementary School.[37]

United States Academic Decathlon

The following LAUSD schools have won the United States Academic Decathlon:

Bus fleet

Westwood School


Model Length Year Numbers Quantity Fuel Type Notes
Crown Supercoach 40' 1987–1988 3000u-3299u 300 Diesel [citation needed]
Gillig Phantom 40' 1987 6000u-6099u 100 Diesel [citation needed]
Blue Bird 40' 2009 6100u-6271u 172 CNG [citation needed]


Model Length Year Numbers Quantity Fuel Type Notes
Blue Bird 40' 2010 6400u-6439u 40 CNG [citation needed]

Notable staff members


Permanent Substitute teachers

  • Cuban-American Screenwriter Migdia Chinea has taught English, Physical Education, Spanish, Art, Social Sciences and other subjects at various LAUSD schools in the Central District.[29]

All District High School Honor Band

The All District High School Honor Band represents what are considered the finest musicians from the LAUSD's high school band programs. Band members are invited in September each year to audition for a spot on the band, which includes only brass and percussion instruments. The group has marched in every Tournament of Roses Parade since 1973. The All District High School Band allows members the opportunity to perform in Bandfest, at Disneyland, and on other special events. The 300 members are required "to maintain a 2.5 or greater grade point average, and stay in good standing with home school program."[39]

Originally organized to meet the minimum requirement of having 100 members on the band to perform in the Rose Parade, the Honor Band has performed at Anaheim Stadium, Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood Christmas Lane Parade (now Hollywood Christmas Parade), Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Rams and Raiders football games, and Super Bowls XI, XIV, and XVII. They were present at the Governor's Inauguration in Sacramento, XXIV Olympiad Salute, and the World Series during the past 25 years.

Questioning of school librarians

In May 2011, attorneys for LAUSD began scrutinizing the practice of their own teacher-librarians in an attempt to balance the district's budget. Librarians who could demonstrate they had taught within the past five years could avoid layoff by being classified as teachers.[40] [41] [42]

See also

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  1. ^ a b LAUSD Fingertip Facts 2007-2008
  2. ^ Largest Employers in Los Angeles County. Compiled by the LA Almanac, Source: California Employment Development Department, The Los Angeles Business Journal, and Almanac research
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Los Angeles School Police Department
  5. ^ a b Jon Fullerton, Budget and Financial Policy Unit For the Board of Education - Overview of School Finance and the LAUSD Budget Presentation to the Presidents’ Joint Commission. August 11, 2005
  6. ^ http://www.westchesterparents.org/downloads/where_have_the_seniors_gone.pdf westchesterparents.org
  7. ^ Regular Meeting Minutes November 9, 1999 The Board of Education of the City of Los Angeles, acting as the Governing Board of the Los Angeles Unified School District, met in regular session on November 9, 1999
  8. ^ a b c d Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer - Payroll system beset from Day 1. Poor management, software failures and breakdowns in training led to a yearlong crisis at L.A. Unified. Los Angeles Times, February 11, 2008,
  9. ^ DailNews.com
  10. ^ Helfand, Duke, "Shake-ups Launched at Four Schools," Los Angeles Times 11 January 2002: A1.
  11. ^ LAUSD Back to School Bus Tour to Celebrate Academics, New Schools
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ a b "LA City Schools Creation." Los Angeles Unified School District. February 7, 1998.
  14. ^ Crawford v. Board of Ed. of Los Angeles 458 U.S. 527 (1982)
  15. ^ Crawford v. Board of Educ. of the City of Los Angeles, 200 Cal. App. 3d 1397, 1402 (1988).
  16. ^ Bustop, Inc. v. Los Angeles Bd. of Ed., 439 U.S. 1380 (1978)
  17. ^ Bustop, Inc. v. Los Angeles Bd. of Ed.439 U.S. 1384 (1978)
  18. ^ David S. Ettinger - The Quest to Desegregate Los Angeles Schools. Los Angeles Lawyer, a publication of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. March 2003
  19. ^ Charles T. Kerchner, Professor of Education Claremont University - Presentation to LAUSD follow up letter. August 23, 2005. Summary: Follow up letter to LAUSD board following a presentation.
  20. ^ 11 local districts map LAUSD
  21. ^ http://www.dailybreeze.com/ci_10341267 dailybreeze.com
  22. ^ [3]
  23. ^ [4]
  24. ^ [5] LAUSD BOC Meeting
  25. ^ [6] Daily News discussing OIG audit
  26. ^ [7]
  27. ^ [1 http://sanramon.patch.com/articles/alleged-rogue-randy-employee-prompts-sex-harassment-lawsuit-against-school-district]
  28. ^ [8] Daily News article about purging of file systems
  29. ^ a b "Battle-scarred 'sub' in L.A. barrios speaks out," WorldNet Daily, November 16, 2007
  30. ^ "L.A. crime is rising where it hurts," Los Angeles Times
  31. ^ "Teacher sues LA school district over alleged retaliation for discussing Iraqi war," San Francisco Chronicle
  32. ^ Specifically, AB 1381:
    • Removes power from the Board of Education and gives it to the superintendent. The superintendent is permitted to request state waivers, hire and fire principals, negotiate and execute contracts, locate and close schools, and manage all personnel. The school board still retains the sole authority to use eminent domain, place taxes and bonds on the ballot, and negotiate with the unions.
    • Creates a council of mayors consisting of mayors of all cities in the LAUSD and members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors who have territory in the LAUSD. This council selects the LAUSD superintendent, takes a look at the budget and makes changes before the school board (with the school board retaining only approval authority, without the ability to make changes). The council of mayors is weighted by population, but must act by a 90% of the population, effectively giving control to the mayor of Los Angeles while requiring him to seek consensus from a few other cities. The city of Los Angeles has 82% of the residents in LAUSD.
    • Allows the mayor of Los Angeles and superintendent, through a joint partnership, direct control over three "clusters" of low-performing schools (defined as a high school and all of its feeders, with the high school one of those in the bottom 20% statewide).
    • The "Southeast Schools Coalition" composed of the cities of Bell, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Maywood, South Gate, and Vernon is given the right to ratify its local minidistrict superintendent.
  33. ^ AB 1381 - Gloria Romero Educational Reform Act of 2006. California State Legislature As Amended August 28, 2005
  34. ^ Naush Boghossian and Rick Orlov - Judge sets hearing on LAUSD case Los Angeles Daily News (link no longer available) - copy available at theFreelibrary
  35. ^ Southern California Consortium on Research in Education. districts and schools - schools - Understanding Year-Round Schools, August 27, 2005. Data Sources CDE.ca.gov, (Datafiles), CDE.ca.gov, (Dataquest) and CDE.ca.gov (Demographics) (California Department of Education)
  36. ^ Hoag, Christina (23 August 2010). work= "Los Angeles school has $578M price tag". Burlington, Vermont: Burlington Free Press. pp. 5A. http://content.usatoday.net/dist/custom/gci/InsidePage.aspx?cId=burlingtonfreepress&sParam=34345865.story work=. 
  37. ^ LAweekly.com, "Oozing Asphalt Jungle" LA Weekly 02/09/2000 (Accessed on 02/19/2007)
  38. ^ "Teaching Health With Vigor -- At Age 91," Education World
  39. ^ LAUSD All District High School Honor Band
  40. ^ The disgraceful interrogation of L.A. school librarians
  41. ^ Librarians get the third degree
  42. ^ LAUSD librarians, fighting for their jobs, get a grilling

External links

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