Los Angeles Unified School district has joined a lawsuit against the state education funding cuts that they claim are illegal, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. The suit, filed the California School Board Association, Association of California School Administrators, and several school districts, seeks to force the state to reverse $2.1 billion in funding cut from the 2011-2012 state budget. The plaintiffs believe they are owed the money under a 1998 law passed by ballot that guarantees that the state "adequately" fund education.
"California's schools and students were shortchanged in the last budget cycle," said Alice Petrossian, president of the school administrators association. "These cuts violate Prop. 98 and are clearly unconstitutional."
The named defendants are the state of California as well as the state controller, director of finance and superintendent of public instruction.
H.D. Palmer, who is the spokesman for the California Department of Finance disputed the allegation, saying that the funding level for education hasn't changed from last year while at the same time other programs were drastically cut to close the state's $26 billion deficit. The LAUSD claims it has lost over $2 billion due to cuts over the past four years, and had to lay off thousands of teachers and administrators as a result.
"The LAUSD joined this lawsuit to restore more vital funds that had been designated for the LAUSD schools under the voter-approved Proposition 98 formula, but which were cut from the 2011-2012 state budget," the district said in a written statement.
This is only the latest in a number of skirmishes between the state and LAUSD. Earlier this week, the district filed an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit against California Governor Jerry Brown and his effort to redirect funding away from local redevelopment agencies and use it for other social programs. The brief was file on the advice of a newly-appointed district board member from Silver Lake, Bennet Kayser. According to EchoParkPatch.com, LAUSD is worried that taking funding away from the CRAs will have a negative impact on a large portion of its student population, 79% of whom qualify for free or reduced-cost lunch programs.