CA Supreme Court rejects suit seeking resumption of LAUSD in-person learning for students with special needs

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- In-person learning for students with special needs will not resume at Los Angeles Unified School District schools after the state Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit filed by two children's rights organizations.

The suit sought to force the LAUSD to resume learning on campuses for those students.

In its petition, Los Angeles non-profits Alliance for Children's Rights and Learning Rights Law Center claimed that the district violated a state law that requires schools to offer in-person instruction and provide "the appropriate resources to avoid learning loss, prevent behavioral regression, and protect students' mental health and well-being."

But the state's highest court disagreed and didn't offer any comment on the decision.

LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner last month suspended all in-person instruction and child-care programs in response to surging COVID-19 cases.

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A planned suspension of all in-person instruction and child care in the Los Angeles Unified School District took effect as the number of COVID-19 cases in the region continued to shatter daily records.

The nonprofit groups filed their legal challenge directly with the state Supreme Court "on the grounds that respondents are failing to meet their procedural obligations under California law to provide in-person instruction for those who cannot access the education curriculum through distance learning and to provide special education assessments and services to qualified students," according to attorneys for the advocacy groups.

Although school campuses generally remain closed across the county, LAUSD had been offering limited in-person tutoring for small groups of high-need students, along with child care programs.

"There is no question that severe learning loss has already occurred, is ongoing, and will lead to irreparable harm for these students," according to the petition. "This slow-motion catastrophe -- with potentially irreversible and life-long negative consequences for students -- can and should be immediately addressed."

While shuttering in-person instruction, Beutner said the district was continuing to make plans for an eventual return of students to classrooms, and he called on state and federal authorities to pony up funding to make campuses safe. He outlined what he called a "Marshall Plan for Schools" that involves:

  • Cleaning and sanitizing of school facilities and protective equipment for students and staff.

  • School-based COVID-19 testing and contact tracing

  • Mental health support for students.

  • Funding for in-person instruction next summer to help students make up for lost instruction during remote learning.

  • City News Service contributed to this report.

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