LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner Snaps Back at LA Councilman for Lawsuit Aimed at Reopening In-Person Instruction

By Rachel Kim

LOS ANGELES — On Friday, February 5, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner fired back at LA Councilman Joe Buscaino’s lawsuit to reopen schools in the LA District. This comes just days after Beutner’s conference on Monday that revealed his firm stance on delaying in-person student classes due to the alarming coronavirus rates that remain within LA County.

In a tweet posted on Thursday, Councilman Buscaino felt “obligated to take a stand on opening our schools” claiming that the year-long school lockdown has done “harm” as it has kept kids from having a “real shot at quality education.”

With the consent of the full council, he plans to submit a resolution next week that will ask the city attorney to file a lawsuit forcing campuses in the LAUSD District to reopen for in-person instruction. The lawsuit will be modeled after the San Francisco lawsuit announced this past week against the San Francisco Unified School District.

However, Superintendent Beutner says that while there are protocols that can lead to the safe reopening of schools, LA COVID-19 rates are too high to take the risk. Unlike San Francisco’s significantly decreased virus levels, COVID numbers in Los Angeles continue to fluctuate as COVID-19 protocols are not consistent and businesses reopen in areas where cases increase daily.

Furthermore, Beutner responded to Buscaino’s lawsuit stating, “Schools cannot reopen because the communities we serve have had persistent infection rates higher than the state COVID standard which must be met for schools to reopen… and the continued high rates of the virus are having a disproportionate impact on the low-income families of color served by our schools.”

Similarly, on Monday, Beutner countered Governor Newsom’s new state guideline of reopening businesses, indoor malls, and more as he sees this as impractical and counterproductive to a faster and safer reopening of schools. Currently LA falls behind the vast majority of school districts that have and maintain relatively low numbers of infections, yet with businesses reopening and testing centers closing, Beutner heavily criticized the state for prioritizing these businesses over safe school protocols. But even the CDC backed up the state saying that all teachers do not need to be vaccinated as long as the right safety measures are in place.

Whether LAUSD schools will reopen remains a mystery for now, but Beutner aims to bring forth a proposal for an extended academic year in the Fall and a possible mandatory summer session. He plans to shine light on these ideas at the next Board of Education meeting.

Rachel Kim is a writer for the LA Vanguard’s court watch and city news desk. Originally from Los Angeles, she currently attends UCLA as a Sociology major and hopes to bring light to injustices in our court system and show the important events that are going on throughout LA County.

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  1. Chris Griffith

    I asked Siri (synthetic intelligence) this question and this is what she said
    Clearly teachers are not immune to covid, and they have the same risk factors as the rest of us — age, obesity, etc.
    I think the bigger question isn’t whether teachers have died, it’s whether they have caught it at school, and how many of them have done so. Then, how much would some focused risk mitigation based on what we know reduce that — like having old or obese teachers transition to virtual schooling (which at least some parents want anyway) while younger and healthier teachers go back to the classroom.

    An approach of zero risk tolerance is stupid, because there are risks either way. One affects teachers more, one affects kids more.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Several good points, Chris.

      Understanding risk = good… intelligent, scientifically minimizing risk = good… acting on those first two = rational and good… expecting zero risk = far from good.  Far from scientific or rational.

      Problem is, we have limited understanding fully understanding the risk of re-opening schools, even with protocols (including universal vaccination, which will not be a ‘happening thing’), but I feel the risk is low, from what we do understand… your suggestions as to minimizing risks, and/or giving those who evaluate the risks differently options, so they can take their own actions, is rational… people telling others what risks are acceptable for ‘them’, is where they lose me.  Others should be expected to follow reasonable protocols to minimize risks to those who choose not to take risks, is reasonable.  Outright ‘bans’ are not.

      1. David Greenwald

        Bill – I don’t think we actually have enough data to know what the risk is.  Especially if the experts are right that the new strain which is much more contagious becomes the dominant strain by March.

        1. Bill Marshall

          David… it has taken us 12 months to understand what we understand about the strain we ‘know’ of… and recommend what is considered reasonable protocols.  Based on that, it is reasonable to assume that clock will be reset in a major way if your last sentence is correct.  Based on your concerns, schools shouldn’t even begin to be thought of for re-opening, with even stronger protocols, until summer… 2022.

          Given I have no kids/grandkids in school, buess I really don’t care how this plays out.

          But, it will be interesting to watch…

          1. David Greenwald

            If we didn’t have a vaccine, I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with 2022, given that we do, that doesn’t seem reasonable.

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