The United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) has filed an unfair practice charge against Los Angeles Unified School District for obscuring the actual number of job vacancies in LAUSD.
The result of these vacancies has led to a depreciation of working conditions for educators and learning challenges for students. Instead of ensuring competitive salaries and benefits to hire and retain teachers in current vacancies the district has simply forced unilateral reassignments.
UTLA members have been covering classes during their planning periods, lunch breaks, and providing instruction for subjects and grade levels outside their immediate expertise. The district has failed to provide educators with the exact numbers regarding the current vacancy crisis across the district.
Weeks after LAUSD announced there were over 2,100 unfilled positions, UTLA released a distressing report on the current and impending educator shortage. By August, the district made claims that about 700 of those positions were officially filled following the return of principals and assistant principals to their schools. UTLA raised concerns about the validity of this claim, which was seemingly later backtracked by LAUSD.
Despite LAUSD’s public declaration towards filling these vacancies, a significant number of schools, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are dealing with the devastating impacts of the shortage crisis.
“I love my job — teaching restorative justice practices to our students, giving them the tools they need to manage their emotions, navigate conflict and make responsible decisions,” said Ebony L. Batiste, restorative justice teacher at 74th Street Elementary and member of UTLA.
“Due to vacancies at my school, I was pulled away from my job to cover classes, on top of being expected to fulfill my duty as a restorative justice teacher. I was working with students during lunch breaks, and trying to manage my workload late after school hours. I was doing two jobs when I was hired for one, and our students weren’t getting the full social, emotional and educational support they needed.
“It was clear that the district didn’t care if we didn’t have a full team, it was all hands on deck and we were all expected to maintain the same level of work,” Batiste added.
“We need transparency regarding the current number of vacancies, how can we expect to find and hire qualified teachers if the district won’t be honest about the current roles available? The bottom line is the district has to attract and retain quality educators by offering fair compensation. It’s the only way to ensure programs like our restorative justice program are correctly staffed so students can succeed.”
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