Why Los Angeles County’s neediest school districts don’t apply for waivers to reopen campuses

Nov 11, 2020 by

Few public schools have received waivers; only one has a high number of low-income students

Credit: Amy Woropay

Students at Westside Neighborhood School returned to school in October.

Los Angeles elementary schools located in predominantly low-income areas were expected to be at the front of the line to bring back their youngest students to campus through the county’s waiver program, but they remain largely absent from the application pool.

Private schools continue to dominate the county’s reopening ranks. And of the few public schools that have been granted waivers, only one has a high proportion of students who can be considered low-income by qualifying for free and reduced-price meals.

Why is the number of low-income schools on the reopening list so low? Many are not applying for the waivers, which are issued by the LA County Board of Supervisors and allow schools in the county to bring back students from transitional kindergarten to second grade. Some school officials are waiting for fear of transmission in areas that are hotspots. Others believe the small number of waivers granted each week could lead to greater inequity within school districts during a public health crisis that already has deepened the chasm between the rich and the poor. Some elementary schools, for example, within a school district could be approved for a waiver while others may not.

From Compton to the San Gabriel Valley, the waiver process has been fraught with debate — raising issues of safety, volatility and fairness.

“We talk so much about equity and there is nothing equitable about this,” says Darin Brawley, superintendent of Compton Unified. “This will create a situation of the haves and the have-nots. How do I look a parent in the eye and tell them that their kid can’t go back to school, so they can remain gainfully employed? This will create hostility between parents.”

Source: Why Los Angeles County’s neediest school districts don’t apply for waivers to reopen campuses | EdSource

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