Photo: Sunny Brae fifth-grade teacher Christy Moore giving public comment to the School Board on Tuesday, January 30.

For years, UTLA educators, Reclaim Our Schools LA, students, and families have been organizing against co-location— the destructive practice under Prop. 39 that gives away space at a public school to an outside operator. 

This fight led to a ground-breaking proposal presented to the school board this week that would protect Community Schools, Black Student Achievement Plan schools, and the district’s 100 priority schools from co-location, as well as offering all schools protection for programmatic spaces that are essential to enriching instruction.

According to the regulations, LAUSD should avoid charter co-location offers that “compromise district schools’ capacity to serve neighborhood children” or “grade span arrangements that negatively impact student safety and build charter school pipelines that actively deter students from attending district schools.” 

Lorena Street Elementary teacher and UTLA Board member Yolanda Tamayo painted a picture for the school board of the damage done to her site when it was forced to share space with an outside charter operator. 

“Under co-location, we endured the dismantling of our computer lab and lost the full-time use of our library, auditorium, eating area, yard, plus the gutting of our important resources that our school desperately needed back then and now,” Tamayo said.

The district’s proposed policy under the school board’s guidelines is a step in the right direction, but it is far from perfect. One of its critical failings is that it doesn’t offer immediate relief for schools under threat from charter encroachment. At Sunny Brae Elementary in the Valley, LAUSD is offering seven enrichment classrooms to an outside operator for next school year.

“The district is offering our individual education plan IEP meeting room, which is a federal necessity for students with disabilities,” Sunny Brae fifth-grade teacher Christy Moore told the board. “They are offering our computer lab, which is used by students for writing reports and all kinds of great things that they need for successful college and career in the future. The district is offering our science lab, our robotics rooms, and our interventions rooms. These programs are essential to enriching instruction and essential to Sunny Brae’s continued growth. We need enforcement now. We’re in danger of losing our programs right now.”

The new regulations, which will be voted on by the board on February 13, stem from a school board resolution passed in September directing the district to provide a policy within 45 days that would protect the district’s more vulnerable students and limit the harm of charter co-location on neighborhood schools.

Pushed by educators, students, and families, the resolution was authored by board members Jackie Goldberg and RocÍo Rivas and passed by a 4-3 margin, with Scott Schmerelson providing a key vote. The narrow passage underscores the need to win the school boards seats on March 5 to protect the board from shifting back to a privatizer majority, which never would have pursued the updated regulations to protect public schools.