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LAUSD Teachers Strike May Be Delayed By A Few Days

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United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl, left, joins teachers at a rally in downtown Los Angeles on Dec. 15, 2018. (Damian Dovarganes/AP)
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Teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District may not be able to begin their strike, as planned, on Jan. 10 -- the date they had picked to begin their work stoppage if they hadn't yet reached a contract deal with district management.

Instead, the strike may be delayed until Jan. 14. That's because of a disagreement about when and whether United Teachers Los Angeles officials filed the right paperwork giving formal notice of its intent to strike, according to a statement from the union sent Sunday.

In the statement, UTLA leaders said they plan to "proactively" go to court in the coming week to ensure its members -- more than 30,000 LAUSD teachers, counselors, nurses and social workers -- can strike on January 10 as planned. Union officials believe their original strike date should still stand.

If the strike date is delayed, that could mean not only more time for negotiators to hammer out a last-minute deal -- which has eluded both sides for almost two years -- and more time for the parents of 480,000 LAUSD students to make contingency plans.

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READ MORE: A comprehensive guide to the UTLA-LAUSD dispute, including a breakdown of the issues at stake.


LAST-MINUTE TALKS APPARENTLY STILL ON

UTLA and LAUSD leaders are still set to meet Monday for their first face-to-face negotiation session since at least early December. Both UTLA president Alex Caputo-Pearl and LAUSD superintendent Austin Beutner -- who, for the most part, have left their bargaining delegations to conduct in-person talks -- are set to personally join the discussion.

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Some uncertainty still loomed over the location of the Monday meeting. At the end of last week, LAUSD officials told union negotiators that Mayor Eric Garcetti had offered L.A. City Hall as a meeting place. As of late Sunday, there was still confusion about whether the two sides would meet at LAUSD's headquarters building, known as Beaudry, or take the mayor up on his offer.

Nevertheless, the Monday meeting appears to be on -- despite legal and public-relations vollies the two sides have continued to trade in recent days.

"We are going into bargaining with an open mind," read Sunday's UTLA statement, "but the onus is on Beutner to give us something different instead of more of the same unacceptable proposals."

"People are counting on us to solve this," Beutner said in an interview Sunday with KPCC/LAist. "Those same students and families that are going to be impacted by the strike are counting on us to put past frustrations aside."

SPECIAL ED TEACHERS -- FOR NOW -- CAN STILL STRIKE

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The leaders' comments come two days after a federal judge rejected, at least for now, the district's attempt to block UTLA members who serve students with disabilities from striking.

District lawyers had filed the request Thursday, arguing a strike might throw the district out of compliance with a 1996 legal settlement that requires LAUSD to provide better services to students with disabilities.

But on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Lew turned the district down on technical grounds, saying district officials were "attempting, prematurely, to bring an unrelated party into a long-settled dispute without any explanation as to how UTLA would be legally liable."

The judge, however, did leave open the door for the district to file a new lawsuit that might block special education teachers from striking.

Senior Editor Paul Glickman contributed to this story.

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