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LAUSD shortens school day for teacher protest

An afternoon union protest on May 13 will not interrupt standardized testing, but schools will be required to make up the lost time later in the year, according to the district.

May 04, 2011|By Jason Song, Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles school district will hold a shortened day of classes on May 13 to accommodate a planned teachers union protest without interrupting standardized testing on most campuses.

Dismissal time will vary from school to school but could be up to several hours earlier than normal. Schools will be required to make up the lost time from the shortened day later in the year, according to Los Angeles Unified School District officials.

The teachers' demonstration is aimed at encouraging state legislators to place tax extensions on the fall ballot to provide continued funding to school districts. L.A. Unified faces a nearly $408-million deficit.

Earlier this spring, the Board of Education voted to issue preliminary layoff notices to nearly 7,000 employees as a cost-saving measure.

The teachers union initially had planned to hold protests in the morning on May 13 and ask their members to report to classrooms an hour late.

But district officials were concerned that mandatory state standardized tests would be disrupted and that students could go unsupervised. As a result, new schools Supt. John Deasy offered the shortened day alternative after meeting with union leaders Thursday night.

In an email to staff, Deasy wrote: "UTLA agreed that they would adjust the focus of their day of activity to concerns about the failure of the State of California, to the public funded schools. I made it perfectly clear that the day's activities and flyer notification about this day could not focus on any concerns about LAUSD."

After classes are dismissed, teachers will pass out leaflets in front of their campuses and then go to Pershing Square to participate in the protest, organized by the California Teachers Assn., at 4 p.m.

The protest comes as district officials negotiate with unions to cut costs. Groups that represent district police officers, police sergeants and lieutenants, academic administrators and construction workers have tentatively agreed to 12 furlough days, which will save the district millions of dollars.

United Teachers Los Angeles President A.J. Duffy said the other deals did not place added pressure on his members to come to an agreement.

"The [other groups] did what they had to do," Duffy said.

Teachers have agreed to furlough days the last two years and "we are interested in working with the district as much as possible," Duffy said.

But before agreeing to any furlough days or other cost-cutting measures, Duffy said, he and other union members need to be convinced the district is not wasting money. They have been going over financial documents the district has provided. Union and district officials also disagree about how much money is in a healthcare fund that L.A. Unified officials have proposed borrowing for other purposes, Duffy said.

"We want to tell our membership that we've seen the books and we've made sure every nickel and dime is accounted for," Duffy said.

jason.song@latimes.com

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