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Will UTLA Sue to Stop Turn Over of New L.A. Schools to Charters?

The Los Angeles Times has snagged an internal memo from lawyers who advise the United Teachers Los Angeles that urges the union to sue the L.A. Unified school district to block Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines from handing over newly built schools to charter operators.

The Los Angeles school board in August adopted a controversial new policy that will allow charter operators and other outside groups to compete to operate some 50 new schools that are slated to open over the next four years. Chronically underperforming district schools will also be opened up to outside operators. Supt. Cortines and his team have been working ever since to hammer out the details of how the competitive process will work.

Union lawyers say the policy is on shaky legal ground for several reasons, including its alleged violation of the current contract between the district and UTLA.

UTLA's president, A.J. Duffy, was threatening legal action two months ago, but since the new policy was adopted, he's also been encouraging groups of teachers to devise their own takeover plans for new and low-performing schools to submit for consideration by the district. According to The Times, however, not all of the union's leaders are fully on board with that idea.

The situation is likely to stay very interesting in the coming weeks as the first deadline to enter into the competition to take over operations at a dozen existing schools, including several high schools, approaches next month.

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