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Morning Brief: LAUSD Sued

An example of what an L.A. Unified School District classroom could look like if campuses reopen. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Good morning, L.A.

Several advocacy agencies are suing LAUSD after the district’s superintendent, Austin Beutner, announced that on-campus instruction would shut down during the latest COVID-19 surge, even for the most at-risk students.

My colleague Kyle Stokes reports that Beutner’s announcement came just three months after a small number of high-risk students – including those with special education needs, English learners, foster youth and homeless children – were welcomed back into the classroom. Calling the current status of the pandemic “dangerous,” Beutner added that the district “will not reopen schools [for any students] until it’s safe and appropriate to do so."

The groups represented in the lawsuit, the Alliance for Children’s Rights and the Learning Rights Law Center, claim that Beutner is in no position to make that decision. Alex Romain, a partner at the firm Milbank LLP, which is handling the case, said that public health officials have deemed it acceptable for those small groups to remain on campus.

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“LAUSD is not the arbiter of when [classroom-based instruction] is ‘possible,’” he said. “There are real students who are being harmed in a profound way.”

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

Jessica P. Ogilvie

What You Need To Know Today

Coronavirus Updates: For the second day in a row, L.A. County shattered its daily COVID-19 case record, announcing 13,815 new coronavirus cases yesterday. L.A. County will have trained nursing home staff administer the coronavirus vaccine when it arrives, rather than going through CVS and Walgreens, as the federal plan recommends.

Money Matters: Mayors from 60 local cities say they were short-changed when California’s state government doled out $500 million in CARES Act coronavirus relief funds.

‘Horrific’ Conditions: The ACLU SoCal filed a lawsuit on behalf of residents at three emergency homeless shelters in Orange County, alleging sexual harassment, unsanitary and unsafe conditions, and lock-in policies that restricted their freedom of movement.

First Person: A Latina Angeleña writes about her family's deep history in California through the stories of three elders who recently passed. In the perpetually crisis-challenged lives of Salvadoran families, food has always been there to provide comfort and joy.

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Weekend Reads

There's a lot going on in the world right now, and it’s hard enough to keep up with our day-to-day lives, let alone to stay current on the news. But if you have some time this weekend, here’s what you may have missed:

L.A.’s ICU nurses are being pushed to – and often, past – their breaking point. (LAist)

Drive-in movie theaters are entering uncharted territory: city streets. (LAist)

A Latino of mixed heritage struggles with how to identify himself, and what his choices about his identity mean. (LAist)

Ghost kitchens are keeping some local restaurateurs in business. (LAist)

In Panorama City, a father serenaded his wife and newborn daughter with a Mariachi band – from the parking lot. (San Fernando Sun)

New migrant caravans headed for the U.S. are assembling in Central America, with the hope that a Biden administration will be more sympathetic to their plight. (La Opinión)

State governments often take a huge cut of the fees that family and friends pay to talk to their incarcerated loved ones – and those fees can be astronomical. (LA Watts Times)

After a beloved Lincoln Heights ice cream truck went up in flames, neighbors banded together to help. (The Eastsider)

Read or gift these 32 books set in and around L.A., telling our local stories. (L.A. Taco)

Hanukkah’s history in L.A. has its roots in the Wild West. (L.A. Mag)

Some city-funded homeless projects are gobbling up money, with questionable results. (KCRW)

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