L.A. schools chief blasts threat to sue district to reopen

www.latimes.com
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L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner responded to a plan by L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino to sue to reopen campuses by criticizing elected officials.
The L.A. schools superintendent and the head of the teachers union have responded with outrage over an L.A. City Councilman's proposal to sue the school system to force campuses to reopen — and also are taking on others after a week of intensifying pressure to swiftly restore in-person classes.

The litigation gambit was announced late Thursday afternoon by City Councilman Joe Buscaino, who said he hopes to win support from a majority of council members. He is modeling the effort on litigation filed by San Francisco last week against its school district.

L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner responded forcefully Friday.

"Grandstanding political stunts like this are precisely why schools in Los Angeles remain closed," Beutner said. "Elected leaders from Sacramento to Los Angeles City Hall need to put deeds behind their words and take the steps necessary to actually put schools and the children they serve first."

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Beutner then took a wide swing beyond Buscaino — at the city, county and state — for failing to take steps that could have more quickly controlled the virus, for choosing not to put teachers higher on the list for vaccines and for not fully reimbursing L.A. Unified for its distribution of meals to the community and its internally developed coronavirus-testing program.

"Los Angeles is a national example of how governmental dysfunction has allowed the virus to rampage out of control," the superintendent said. "It was not the decision of Los Angeles Unified to reopen card rooms or indoor malls before infection rates were low enough to unlock the schoolyard gates," he said.

Beutner's response comes days after the new director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Biden administration, Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Southern California chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians spoke of the importance for schools to swiftly and safely reopen.

Beutner and teachers union leaders have cited experts who urge a more cautious…
Howard Blume
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