‘Voters are tired of you’: A week after parcel tax defeat, LAUSD parents rail at district leaders during 2019-20 budget hearing

Taylor Swaak:

Parents blasted L.A. Unified officials at a school board hearing this week — one even bursting into tears — offering an angry glimpse into the fractured trust between the community and the district just one week after voters overwhelmingly rejected a new parcel tax.

Many of the more than 20 speakers at Tuesday’s four-hour session expressed ongoing frustration with the ambiguity of L.A. Unified’s $7.8 billion operating budget and Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP), a three-year plan updated annually that outlines the district’s goals and actions for improving student outcomes. Tuesday’s meeting was the first since L.A. Unified’s bid for a $500 million-a-year “Measure EE” parcel tax failed at the polls, and was also the first time the finalized 2019-20 budget and the LCAP were formally presented to the public. The board will vote on both next Tuesday.

“All of the voters are tired of you,” parent Luz Maria Montoya said in Spanish. “We don’t know what work you are doing.”

Some parents said district documents don’t clearly explain changes to student programs and services for next year. Others added that there isn’t transparency or robust “monitoring” of how L.A. Unified’s expenditures, such as professional development and training for teachers and principals, yield actual results for students. Montoya, for example, called district services for English learners and special education students “an embarrassment.” A few also accused L.A. Unified officials and principals of keeping parents out of budget and policy discussions — treating them “as sheeps, as herds,” as one speaker said— rather than welcoming them to the table as a partner.

“We have a lot of barriers” to knowing what’s going on, said parent María Daisy Ortíz, who addressed the board in Spanish. “We want to work with you, not against you. But respect us. … No one returns the wasted time to our children.”

Voters rejected two out of three Madison school district referendums in 2005