The Los Angeles Unified School District's charter school population is more than 110,000 students strong—making it larger than most of the nation's stand-alone school systems. This week, a controversial effort to temporarily put the brakes on those schools' growth pending a review of their policies and practices was rejected by the district's school board, following a strong show of force from the charter school community.
By a 4-2 vote, the board turned away a resolution put forward by one of its members, Steve Zimmer, which would have placed a temporary moratorium on charter schools.
Zimmer had raised a litany of concerns about charter schools' growth and the 640,000-student district's ability to regulate those schools and ensure that all students, particularly those with disabilities, were given access to them.
His resolution asked charter operators to "voluntarily delay requesting action" on applications to open school until Superintendent John E. Deasy could report to the board on a range of issues. That review would have included a look at charters' compliance with various laws on serving special-needs students (a source of concern across the country, not just in L.A.), as well as English-language learners. Zimmer also wanted more information on student disciplinary policies in charters, and parent-volunteer requirements in those schools.
In addition, he called for a review of the extent to which dual immersion, International Baccalaureate, and similar programs are "distributed and offered equally throughout the District," according to his resolution.
But the measure failed to muster a board majority. One group that worked to defeat it was the California Charter Schools Association, which estimated that more than 2,000 signatures had been submitted in opposition to the resolution since a more sweeping version of it emerged a few months ago.
The association collected testimonials from parents who said their children had benefited from attending charters and argued that other families shouldn't be denied the same opportunity.
"We're proud that the LAUSD board responded favorably to the parents who have shown the need and urgency in ensuring all families have access to high-quality school options," said Jed Wallace, president of the association, in a statement.