Complaint: Long Beach Unified School District underfunded 'high needs' students by $41 million

A complaint filed with the Los Angeles County Office of Education alleges that the Long Beach Unified School District underfunded 'high needs' students by $41 million. LACOE is named in the complaint as the county office of education was responsible for approving the district's Local Control Accountability Plan last fall. The complaint charges that the district failed to meet its obligations to populations of students that are meant to be serviced by supplemental and concentration grants.

California's Local Control Funding Formula awards school districts concentration and supplemental grants to serve their populations of foster and homeless youth, low-income, and English-learners. After soliciting feedback from key stakeholders, districts are required to include and publish details about how those funds are allocated and spent in their Local Control Accountability Plans or LCAP.

Long Beach Unified receives $108 million in supplemental and concentration grants for its high-needs students, who make up 70 percent of its student population.

Public Advocates filed the complaint on behalf of the Children's Defense Fund, a community group and two parents after two years of warning letters and inquiries received no response. Superintendent Steinhauser stands by his district's LCAP and says the district fully complies with 'the spirit of the Local Control Funding Formula' and refinement would be done as required and would spell out how student groups are targeted in more detail with its next LCAP.

Although the LCFF does not require itemized expenditures, LBUSD is one of few districts that offers a full breakdown of how spends its basic, supplemental and concentration grants. Comprised of staff salaries and benefits, Common Core instructional materials, and technology improvements, the complaint references $41 million dollars earmarked as "supplemental education supports." In this case, the complainants feel the way the funds are allocated is too broad and allege that LBUSD does not spell out how those funds specifically target the schools or student populations they are intended to. Superintendent Steinhauser explains that these funds are targeted at teacher retention in high-poverty schools to combat the looming teacher shortage.  

Long Beach Unified has 60 days to provide an adequate response to the complaint. After which, Public Advocates will decide whether or not to pursue an appeal to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson or a lawsuit.