California state education department officials are elevating form over substance in precluding the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) from obtaining $200 million in available funding for low income, English language learner and foster children, district Superintendent John Deasy has charged. California’s new local control funding formula requires school districts to confirm each student’s family income in order to receive the extra state funding. L.A. Unified is now attempting to comply with the new state mandate, but has only received 22 percent of the forms it needs by March 21, 2014. School district officials expressed outrage that they need to substantiate the well known fact that 80 percent of LAUSD’s 600,000 students are from families who live in poverty. Superintendent John Deasy noted, “It’s profoundly disturbing that because of a unilateral change in the reporting procedure, the state is threatening to shortchange schools that serve our students in greatest need.”
The state’s chief deputy superintendent of public instruction Rich Zeiger, however, responded that districts must demonstrate that students qualify for the additional funds. The state Department of Education maintains that districts need to collect family income data every four years to determine eligibility for federally subsidized school meals, and some of L.A. Unified’s data is outdated by more than ten years. District officials have urged the state to use their data for another year because the funds are necessary to provide a high-level education.