CA Supreme Court Denies Request to Force LAUSD to Partially Reopen for In-Person Classes

After LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner announced that all in-person instruction and childcare programs that were currently operating would be suspended in December, two children’s advocacy groups asked the California Supreme Court to order LAUSD to resume in-person instruction for students with the highest needs, including students with disabilities. 

On January 20, 2021, the California Supreme Court rejected this petition, which alleged that LAUSD was violating state law by not offering in-person instruction “to the greatest extent possible.” The court did not issue a written ruling in their denial. As the Los Angeles Times reports, Alex G. Romain, a partner at the law firm that filed the petition on behalf of the advocacy organizations, called the court’s denial a “profound disappointment.”

A wooden judge's gavel rests on a circular wooden holder.

The Alliance for Children’s Rights and the Learning Rights Law Center filed the petition in the hopes that the district would allow the return of small cohorts of up to 25% of a school’s enrollment with safety protocols. The driving force behind their request is the fact that for many students, including those with disabilities, remote learning is impossible. 

In a statement, Romain said, “These students cannot access education online, have gone without meaningful access to education since March 2020, and will now likely lose the entire 2020–21 school year. Notwithstanding the Court’s decision, we hope that the District will not abandon these students who often have no voice and who have experienced such extraordinary learning loss during this pandemic.”

Governor Newsom plans to bring some students back to campuses as early as mid-February (starting with younger elementary students, special education students, English learners, and other students who are disproportionately impacted by distance learning), but counties must have a seven-day average of fewer than 28 cases per 100,000 residents for schools to open — with case rates as high as they are, L.A. County schools likely won’t be able to reopen for some time. 

We will continue to provide updates on school reopenings as they become available.  

If LAUSD could bring back small cohorts in the near future, would you feel comfortable sending your child back to school? Let us know your thoughts in the comments! 

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