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Los Angeles school board agrees to settle suit and allocate more funds to needy minority students

July 7, 2017
A community organization had contended that L.A. Unified was misallocating funds meant for low-income students.

The Los Angeles school board has agreed in principle to a lawsuit settlement that would send more money to the district’s neediest schools over the next three years for resources to improve African American and Latino student achievement.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Los Angeles Unified School Board, in its first meeting with two newly elected members, unanimously approved the settlement in principle during closed session.

Community Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy group, filed a complaint with the California Department of Education and sued the district in 2015 with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union. The suit asserted that the district was misspending up to $450 million meant for low-income students, English learners and foster youth.

Neither the district nor Community Coalition disclosed how much money would be redirected or which schools would receive the funds.

“We still need to work out a few of the details with the other side,” says David Holmquist, the district's general counsel. But, he says, “it’s going to put more funds out at school sites to benefit the most needy schools in the district.”

The Los Angeles district receives more than $1 billion extra for those groups each year under the state's education funding formula. About $450 million of the funds was allocated instead for general use; district administrators argued that the school system spend that amount on disabled students who also are in the three categories.

Community Coalition and other critics called this logic improper, saying that the programs have to specifically help high-needs students.

The California Department of Education required the district in 2016 to redirect the funds or clarify how the dollars are being used for the intended students.

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