LAUSD Files Suit to `Protect' Special-Needs Students During Possible Strike

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Unified School District filed federal court papers today in hopes of preventing special-education teachers and support staff from taking part in a teacher strike if a walkout occurs as expected next week. 

Los Angeles Unified provides special-education support and services to more than 60,000 students, many of whom have severe intellectual disabilities and serious health conditions, according to the district.

``To protect more than 60,000 special-needs students, Los Angeles Unified is seeking approval to move forward with a complaint to prevent (United Teachers Los Angeles) leadership and its members from engaging in a denial of services to special-needs students during a strike,'' LAUSD attorney David Holmquist said in a statement. 

``A strike would be detrimental to students with disabilities and their families, depriving the students of the special-education support and services they rely on each day.''Such students are protected by federal and state special-education laws, and LAUSD is monitored under a modified federal consent decree for special education, according to the district. 

District officials said they are seeking permission to move forward with a complaint in Los Angeles federal court to ensure that special-needs students do not lose access to services they need if UTLA moves forward with a planned Jan. 10 teacher walkout.

UTLA represents more than 30,000 teachers. The union and district have been mired in contract talks for two years without reaching a resolution. Labor negotiators from both sides are tentatively expected to meet Monday for a last-ditch effort to reach an agreement.

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