LOS ANGELES—The American Federation of Teachers filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court this week against the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). The suit was filed under the state’s Freedom of Information Act and requests LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner’s public schedules, which the union has sought formally since July. Beutner has ignored two deadlines with which he originally agreed to comply, forcing the union—whose 30,000 local members include the teachers, librarians, social workers, nurses and school counselors working in LAUSD schools—to pursue the legal action.
The original requests for Beutner’s schedule were filed well before the union’s local affiliate, United Teachers Los Angeles, voted to authorize a strike earlier this month after 17 months of contract negotiations with the district.
AFT President Randi Weingarten said:
“Anyone accepting the job of school superintendent accepts with it the responsibility of transparency. Public officials must earn the respect of the people they serve; it’s not a given, particularly for those making decisions about our kids’ futures. That’s why even having to litigate an appropriate request for Austin Beutner’s schedule should raise alarm bells. We’ve seen the damage that backroom meetings and discussions that exclude parents, teachers and the community can cause: When we’re not a part of the conversation and we don’t know who is, we’re left to wonder: What is Beutner actually doing to fund community schools, put accountability measures in place for charter schools, or address overcrowded classrooms?
“Superintendent Beutner has minimal experience in education or public governance and has deep ties to the corporate world. We know he’s met with Betsy DeVos, and we’ve heard rumors that Beutner is working with a Republican-leaning lobbying and PR firm. We think the public deserves to know who is shaping Beutner’s administration, and we hope that access to his public schedule will shed some light on what he’s actually doing to help educators meet the academic, health and safety needs of our students.”