Somebody Had to Do It: Parents Sue LA Unified School District, United Teachers of Los Angeles for Personal Injury

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

All I can say is it’s about damn time. From the Los Angeles Daily News:

A group of parents frustrated by efforts made to date to reopen classrooms in the nation’s second-largest K-12 system is suing the Los Angeles Unified School District and local teachers union.

The lawsuit, filed this week in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleges that LAUSD breached its responsibility to act in the best interest of students by allowing the teachers union to dictate when schools should reopen.

LAUSD, United Teachers Los Angeles and UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz are named as defendants in the complaint.

The complaint alleges:

Since Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools closed more than a year ago due to concerns over the then unknown COVID-19, Plaintiffs’ children have variously become suicidal, isolated, depressed, addicted, clinically obese, and had their future prosperity needlessly imperiled. While the need to shutdown schools was unclear in March 2020, the scientific consensus is now indisputable: schools can and should safely re-open. Keeping schools closed not only harms childrens’ academic performance but has also been shown to cause ongoing and in some cases devastating harm to their social, mental, and emotional well-being.

The complaint specifically calls out UTLA and its President Cecily Myart-Cruz:

Cecily Myart-Cruz have held the current well-being and future prospects of LAUSD students’ hostage. UTLA’s demands have included “defunding the police,” the shutdown of publicly funded privately operated charter schools, and cash payments. LAUSD schools have remained closed, and Plaintiffs’ children have continued to be harmed without scientific, legal, or moral justification. While UTLA has the right to seek a political agenda, it does not have the right to aid and abet the continuing harm of Plaintiffs’ children.

The Daily News continued,

Timothy Snowball, an attorney for the four plaintiffs, said in an interview Wednesday, March 31, that UTLA used students as a “bargaining chip” by refusing to have its members return to campuses sooner in order to try and advance the union’s own agenda[….]

“UTLA used the tragedy of COVID-19 as an excuse to extract concessions based on its preferred personal and ideological policies by holding the education and future of LAUSD’s children hostage,” the complaint states. “UTLA was willing for teachers to remain out of the classroom, and children, including Plaintiffs, [sic] to suffer the mental, social, and academic consequences.”

Attorneys for the plaintiffs are working on the case pro bono. The attorneys are part of the Freedom Foundation, which is known for taking on public employee unions throughout the country.

Back in July of 2020, then-CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield did a webinar with the Buck Institute. He had this to say concerning re-opening schools:

I think it’s really important, and local school districts are going to have to make these decisions. I’ve said that our guidance that we’ve put out from CDC, the purpose of it is to facilitate the reopening of schools. I happen to balance the risk here. It’s not risk of school openings versus public health. It’s public health versus public health. And I’m of the point of view, and I weigh that equation as an individual that has 11 grandchildren, that the greater risk is actually to the nation to keep these schools closed. You know, a lot of kids get their mental health services, over 7 million, in school. A lot of people get food and nutrition in schools. Schools are really important in terms of mandatory reporting sexual and child abuse. Obviously, the socialization is important. And, obviously, for some kids, I think actually a majority of kids, their learning in a face-to-face school is the most effective method of teaching.

Redfield also said,

“We’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from COVID. We’re seeing far greater deaths from drug overdose that are above excess that we had as background than we are seeing the deaths from COVID.”

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC Director under the Biden administration has put out new guidelines for schools reopening. In a White House Press briefing, she referred to data that allows for safe reopenings and that do not require teachers to be vaccinated.

“There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters during a White House news briefing on Covid-19.

“Vaccinations of teachers is not a prerequisite for safely reopening schools,” she added.

My colleague ShipWreckedCrew wrote this back in February in response to a California school board meeting where the members were caught mocking and cursing parents who want their children’s schools to reopen.

In California, school districts operate on revenues received primarily in the form of property taxes.  Parents aren’t asked to write checks to the school districts in order for their children to attend.  That makes it easy to lose focus on how little the districts are actually providing in the form of an educational benefit when compared to the tax burden still being imposed on the parents.

Tax dollars paid for the construction and maintenance of the school’s physical facilities that are being denied to students.  Tax dollars paid for the operation of extra-curricular activities that are shut down where the schools are not open.  Students are missing out on educational opportunities that are perishable — once they are missed they are often impossible to offer again in a “make-up” fashion.

This cavalier and dismissive attitude toward parents, and more importantly, toward the children they are tasked to instruct, has not gone unnoticed.

The hypocrisy of barring the doors to the children of tax-paying citizens, while moving heaven and earth for their own children to attend in-person learning is rank.

It is more and more clear that our children have been used as political pawns in a game where only the teachers’ unions are intent on playing. Lives, mental health, academic milestones, and academic progress have been lost because of this. These Los Angeles parents are in the right, and they have science on their side.

The parents have finally had enough.