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Headquarters building of LAUSD in Downtown Los Angeles
Los Angeles Unified School District ("LAUSD") is the largest (in terms of number of students) public school system in Californiamarker. It is the second-largest in the United Statesmarker. Only the New York City Department of Education has a larger student population. During the 2007-2008 school year, LAUSD served 694,288 students, and had 45,473 teachers and 38,494 other employees. It is the second largest employer in Los Angeles County, after the county government. The total school district budget for 2008 was $19,986,000,000 US dollars. In enrollment breakdown by ethnic group, 73% of its students were of Hispanic origin and 11% of its students were African American. Non-Hispanic white students comprise 9% of the student population, while Asian students comprise 4%. Students of Filipino origin form 2% of the student population, and American Indian and Pacific Islanders together are less than 1%

The school district consists of Los Angelesmarker and all or portions of several adjoining Southern California cities. LAUSD has its own police force, the Los Angeles School Police Department, which was established in 1948 to provide police services for LAUSD schools . The LAUSD enrolls a third of the preschoolers in Los Angeles County, and operates almost as many buses as the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The LAUSD school construction program rivals the Big Digmarker in terms of expenditures, and LAUSD cafeterias serve about 500,000 meals a day, rivaling the output of local McDonald's restaurants.

The LAUSD has a reputation for extremely crowded schools, high drop-out and expulsion rates, low academic performance in many schools, poor maintenance and incompetent administration. Bond issues and ambitious renovation programs have not uniformly eased these conditions. As part of its school-construction project, LAUSD opened two high schools (Santee Education Complex and South East) in 2005 and four high schools (Arletamarker, Contreras Learning Complex, Panorama, and East Valley) in 2006

In 2007, LAUSD's dropout rate was 33.6 percent for grades 9 through 12.


Los Angeles Unified School District is governed by a seven-member Board of Education, which appoints a superintendent, who runs the daily operations of the district. Members of the board are elected directly by voters from separate districts that encompass communities that the LAUSD serves. The district's current superintendent is Ramon Cortines, after the school board decided to buyout the contract of David M. Brewer III, a former Navy Vice-Admiral who served as head of the Navy's Education and Training Division and was in charge of the SeaLift Command. From 2001 until his retirement in October, 2006, the district was led by former Coloradomarker governor and Democratic Party chairman Roy Romer.

The seven current members of Board of Education include Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte (District 1), Board President Monica Garcia (District 2),Tamar Galatzan (District 3), Steve Zimmer (District 4), Yolie Flores Aguilar (District 5), Nury Martinez (District 6), and Richard Vladovic (District 7).

Every LAUSD household or residential area is zoned to an elementary school, a middle school and a high school, in one of the eight local school districts. Each local school district is run by an area superintendent and is headquartered within the district.


The Los Angeles Unified School District was once composed of two separate districts: the Los Angeles City School District, formed on September 19, 1853, and the Los Angeles City High School District, formed in 1890. The latter provided 9-12 educational services, while the former did so for K-8. The two school districts merged to create what is today the LAUSD on July 1, 1961.

The annexation left the Topanga School District and the Las Vergenes Union High School District (then renamed to the West County Union High School District) as separate remnants of the high school district. LAUSD annexed the Topanga district and, as it had the same boundaries as the Topanga district, the West County Union High School District, on July 1, 1962.


In 1963, a lawsuit, Crawford v. Board of Ed. of Los Angeles was filed to end segregation in the district. The California Supreme Courtmarker required the district to come up with a plan in 1977. The board returned to court with what the court of appeal years later would describe as "one of if not the most drasticplan of mandatory student reassignment in the nation." A desegregation busing plan was developed to be implemented in the 1978 school year. Two lawsuits to stop the enforced busing plan, both titled Bustop, Inc. v. Los Angeles Bd. of Ed., were filed by the group Bustop Inc. and were petitioned to the United States Supreme Courtmarker.. The petitions to stop the busing plan were subsequently denied by Justice Rehnquist and Justice Powell. California Constitutional Proposition 1, which mandated that busing follow the Equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution passed in 1979 with 70% of the vote. The Crawford v. Board of Ed. of Los Angeles lawsuit was heard in the Supreme Court in 1982. The Supreme Court upheld the decision that Proposition 1 was constitutional.


Various attempts at program reform have been implemented. First, individual schools were given more authority over day to day decisions, and public school choice was implemented. In the 1990s, LEARN and LAAMP were created, giving principals even more authority to make changes in curriculum to benefit students. Regardless, student achievement failed to increase.

Later reform led to the creation of 11 lettered minidistricts with decentralized management and their own individual superintendents . Due to the cost of this additional bureaucracy, then Superintendent Romer called for merging the minidistricts. United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing LAUSD teachers, supported this plan. Eight numbered Local Districts arose from the merger replacing the 11 lettered districts.

Even while grappling with funding shortfalls, the Los Angeles Unified School District is employing more than 800 consultants - paid, on average, more than twice as much as regular employees - to oversee school construction. The Facilities Services Division spends about $182 million on its 849 consultants, almost $215,000 each. The division's regular employees are paid about $99,000 each.

The practice has prompted concerns and a growing number of inquiries from the district's board members and LAUSD's bond oversight committee. District officials defend the practice, saying use of consultants ebbs and flows with the various stages of construction.

Overall, consultants constitute nearly 20 percent of division personnel and account for 35 percent of personnel costs.

Senior Deputy Superintendent Ray Cortines agreed that consultants can get the work done quickly and correctly, but said he is also concerned about the district's reliance on outside workers. "We need to look at it, to reduce the number of consultants," he said. In the seven main branches of the Facilities Services Division, there are 3,479 district employees who earn a total of about $347 million, according to district records. The division employs 849 consultants who earn a total of about $182.6 million.


Twenty-first century

Berendo Middle School
On November 16, 2007, the WorldNet Daily posted "Battle-scarred 'sub' in L.A. barrios speaks out" by Migdia Chinea Varela, a screenwriter and former substitute teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Chinea stated that, in many schools she served, the students had no interest in learning, abused the teachers, vandalized property, and joined gangs. Chinea, who was injured on the job, stated that teachers are underpaid and under-appreciated in the district. She described the campuses in LAUSD as a "mess, filthy, dilapidated and without supplies." Chinea believes that the district is taking little action against the conditions rampant in various low-income schools.

On January 5, 2008 Sandy Banks of the Los Angeles Times reported that vandals and thieves targeted LAUSD schools in various neighborhoods during holidays. Banks said that the lack of police presence allows thieves to target schools.

33-year old Alberto Gutierrez sued the Los Angeles Unified School District, saying that the principal of the San Fernando High Schoolmarker, where he was assigned, retaliated against him when Gutierrez asked students to "think critically" about the role of the United States in the Iraq War. Jose Luis Rodriguez, the principal, says that he spoke to Gutierrez because some parents did not appreciate Gutierrez requiring students to attend off-campus screenings of Fahrenheit 9/11 and Crash.

Assembly Bill 1381

John H.
Liechty Middle School
After his election to Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa advocated bringing control of the public school system under his office, removing power from the Board of Education. This sparked some protest from teachers, LAUSD board members and many residents of communities not within the City of Los Angeles but served by LAUSD.

In August, 2006, after a compromise was brokered which allowed the mayor large control while retaining an elected school board and allowing input to be provided from surrounding cities, California State Assembly Bill 1381 passed, giving the mayor a measure of control over district administration. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the law on September 18, 2006. The Board of Education immediately filed suit to block the law, claiming that it violates the state constitution by allowing a local government to take over an educational agency.

AB 1381 was required to sunset on January 1, 2013, unless extended by the Legislature. On December 21, 2006, AB 1381 was ruled unconstitutional. The mayor appealed, but later dropped his appeal as two of the candidates he supported for school board were elected, essentially giving him indirect control over the school district.

Payroll system

In 2004, a new payroll system project began, with Deloitte Consulting engaged to customize software purchased from SAP AG. The Deloitte contract was $55,000,000 (U.S.) with the total cost estimated to be $95,000,000. The system went live in January 2007. As of 2008, a number of problems have been experienced with some staff getting overpaid and some underpaid, or even not at all. Deloitte representatives and District officials have pointed fingers at each other. Some of the problems have been software and hardware, some have been due to the complexity of labor agreements, salary scales, work rules and job assignments within the district.

LAUSD cities and unincorporated areas

Downtown Magnets HS
Carthay Center School
Leo Politi Elementary School, Los Angeles, California
Tenth Street School
Westwood School

Source: Los Angeles TimesLAUSD serves all of the following communities: and portions of the following communities:

List of schools and properties


LAUSD has 219 year-round schools and 439 schools on the traditional calendar. About 47% of all LAUSD students are enrolled in year round schools.

Edward R. Roybal Learning Center

The Edward R. Roybal Learning Center (previously known as Belmont Learning Center or Vista Hermosa Learning Center), in the densely populated Westlake district just west of downtown, was originally envisioned as a mixed-use education and retail complex to include several schools, shops and a public park. After more than a decade of delays stemming from the environmental review process, ground was broken for construction in 1995 . Midway through construction it was discovered that explosive methane and toxic hydrogen sulfide were seeping from an old underground oil field. Later, an active surface fault was found under one of the completed buildings, necessitating its removal. The LAUSD had spent an estimated $175 million dollars on the project by 2004, with an additional $110 million budgeted for cleanup efforts. The total cost is estimated by LAUSD at $300 million. Critics have speculated that it may end up costing closer to $500 million. The school opened in 2008 as Edward R. Roybal Learning Center.

The Ambassador Hotel

Another controversial project has been the development of The Ambassador Hotelmarker property on Wilshire Boulevard in densely populated Koreatown. The LAUSD fought over the defunct landmark with among others Donald Trump, who later walked away from it, with the legal battle dating back to 1989 . In 2001, the LAUSD finally obtained legal ownership of the property. Plans to demolish the building, the site where Senator Robert F. Kennedy was shot, were met with strong opposition from preservationists. Kennedy's family supported the demolition plans. In August 2005, LAUSD settled a lawsuit over the matter that had been filed by several preservationist groups: most of the Ambassador complex would be destroyed, but the Paul Williams-designed coffee shop and the Coconut Grovemarker nightclub would be preserved , with the Grove serving as the auditorium for a new school to be built on the site. Demolition began in late 2005, and the last section of the hotel fell on January 16, 2006. The first new school on the site is scheduled to open in 2009.

Santee Dairy

In 2005, soil samples taken at the LAUSD-owned site of a former Santee Dairy facility in South Los Angelesmarker found high levels of carcinogens in soil used as foundation fill for a high school then under construction. A small controversy brewed on the matter, with some neighborhood activists and LAUSD critics claiming a repeat of the Belmont Learning Center fiasco. State scientists determined that the contaminated soil was sufficiently deep to pose no threat to students on the site, and the now-called Santee Educational Complex opened its doors in July 2005.

Park Avenue Elementary School

On February 9, 2000, the Los Angeles Weekly published an article about the environmental troubles of Park Avenue Elementary School .

United States Academic Decathlon

The following LAUSD schools have won the United States Academic Decathlon:

Bus fleet


Model Length Year Numbers Quantity Fuel Type Notes
Crown Supercoach 40' 1987-1988 3000u-3299u 300 Diesel
Gillig Phantom 40' 1987 6000u-6099u 100 Diesel
Blue Bird 40' 2009 6100u-6271u 172 CNG


Model Length Year Numbers Quantity Fuel Type Notes
Blue Bird 40' 2010 6400u-6439u 40 CNG
NABI 42-BRT 42.5' 2013 10000u-10199u 200 CNG
New Flyer C40LFR 40' 2015 10200u-10500u 300 CNG

Notable staff members


Permanent Substitute teachers

  • Cuban-American Screenwriter Migdia Chinea has taught English, Physical Education, Spanish, Art, Social Sciences and other subjects at various LAUSD schools in the Central District..


  • José Huizar, a politician who served as a board member and president for LAUSD
  • Fabian Núñez, a politician who served as the government affairs director for LAUSD

All District High School Honor Band

The All District High School Honor Band represents the finest musicians from the LAUSD's high school band programs. Band members are invited in September each year to audition for a spot on the band, which includes only brass and percussion instruments. The group, marching at a high energetic level, has marched in every Tournament of Roses Parade since 1973. Additionally, this All District High School Band provides LAUSD students with the opportunity to perform in Bandfest, at Disneylandmarker, and on other special events. The 300 members are required "to maintain a 2.5 or greater grade point average, and stay in good standing with home school program."

Originally organized to meet the minimum requirement of having 100 members on the band to perform in the prestigious Rose Parade, the Honor Band has performed at Anaheim Stadiummarker, Hollywood Bowlmarker, Hollywood Christmas Lane Parade , Los Angeles Memorial Coliseummarker, Rams and Raiders football games, and Super Bowls XI, XIV, and XVII. They were there at the Governor's Inauguration in Sacramentomarker, XXIV Olympiad Salute, and the World Series during the past 25 years.

Stated mission of the “All City Band”:

  • To provide performance opportunities for LAUSD high school musicians and auxiliary unit programs; to foster inter-school and District wide positive student relations.
  • To develop the finest composite high school band that represents the Los Angeles Unified School District at high profile events.
  • Promote the importance and the strength of music and auxiliary teams (dance and flags) District wide
  • To support music and auxiliary teams at the high schools in the LAUSD.

See also


  1. LAUSD Fingertip Facts 2007-2008
  2. Largest Employers in Los Angeles County. Compiled by the LA Almanac, Source: California Employment Development Department, The Los Angeles Business Journal, and Almanac research
  3. Los Angeles School Police Department
  4. Jon Fullerton, Budget and Financial Policy Unit For the Board of Education - Overview of School Finance and the LAUSD Budget Presentation to the Presidents’ Joint Commission. August 11, 2005
  5. REGULAR MEETING MINUTES November 9, 1999 The Board of Education of the City of Los Angeles, acting as the Governing Board of the Los Angeles Unified School District, met in regular session on November 9, 1999
  6. Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer - Payroll system beset from Day 1. Poor management, software failures and breakdowns in training led to a yearlong crisis at L.A. Unified. Los Angeles Times, February 11, 2008,
  7. Helfand, Duke, "Shake-ups Launched at Four Schools," Los Angeles Times 11 January 2002: A1.
  10. Board of Education membership
  11. " LA City Schools Creation." Los Angeles Unified School District. February 7, 1998.
  12. Crawford v. Board of Ed. of Los Angeles
  13. Crawford v. Board of Educ. of the City of Los Angeles, 200 Cal. App. 3d 1397, 1402 (1988).
  14. Bustop, Inc. v. Los Angeles Bd. of Ed.,
  15. Bustop, Inc. v. Los Angeles Bd. of Ed.
  16. David S. Ettinger - The Quest to DESEGREGATE Los Angeles Schools. Los Angeles Lawyer, a publication of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. March 2003
  17. Charles T. Kerchner, Professor of Education Claremont University - Presentation to LAUSD follow up letter. August 23, 2005. Summary: Follow up letter to LAUSD board following a presentation.
  18. 11 local districts map LAUSD
  19. " Battle-scarred 'sub' in L.A. barrios speaks out," WorldNet Daily, November 16, 2007
  20. " L.A. crime is rising where it hurts," Los Angeles Times
  21. " Teacher sues LA school district over alleged retaliation for discussing Iraqi war," San Francisco Chronicle
  22. Specifically, AB 1381: * Removes power from the Board of Education and gives it to the superintendent. The superintendent is permitted to request state waivers, hire and fire principals, negotiate and execute contracts, locate and close schools, and manage all personnel. The school board still retains the sole authority to use eminent domain, place taxes and bonds on the ballot, and negotiate with the unions. * Creates a council of mayors consisting of mayors of all cities in the LAUSD and members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors who have territory in the LAUSD. This council selects the LAUSD superintendent, takes a look at the budget and makes changes before the school board (with the school board retaining only approval authority, without the ability to make changes). The council of mayors is weighted by population, but must act by a 90% of the population, effectively giving control to the mayor of Los Angeles while requiring him to seek consensus from a few other cities. The city of Los Angeles has 82% of the residents in LAUSD. * Allows the mayor of Los Angeles and superintendent, through a joint partnership, direct control over three "clusters" of low-performing schools (defined as a high school and all of its feeders, with the high school one of those in the bottom 20% statewide). * The "Southeast Schools Coalition" composed of the cities of Bell, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Maywood, South Gate, and Vernon is given the right to ratify its local minidistrict superintendent.
  23. AB 1381 - Gloria Romero Educational Reform Act of 2006. California State Legislature As Amended August 28, 2005
  24. NAUSH BOGHOSSIAN and RICK ORLOV - Judge sets hearing on LAUSD case Los Angeles Daily News (link no longer available) - copy available at theFreelibrary
  25. Southern California Consortium on Research in Education. districts and schools - schools - Understanding Year-Round Schools, August 27, 2005. Data Sources [1], [2], and [3] (California Department of Education)
  26. "Oozing Asphalt Jungle" LA Weekly 02/09/2000 (Accessed on 02/19/2007)
  27. " Teaching Health With Vigor -- At Age 91," Education World
  28. LAUSD All District High School Honor Band

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