Citing Coronavirus, L.A. Teachers Union Calls for a Halt to New Charter Schools

United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl called for a moratorium on all new charter schools in the L.A. Unified School District Thursday, citing the COVID-19 pandemic

In a letter to Superintendent Austin Beutner, Caputo-Pearl argued that social distancing requirements would prevent school board members from gathering proper community input in the charter approval process. He then went even further, opposing any new space-sharing agreements between charters and district-run schools.

“Given the seriousness of this COVID-19 outbreak, the complexity of new public health standards to be implemented, and how quickly schools will have to adjust, there is simply not enough time for any new co-location or new charter approvals to be established in a healthy and safe way,” Caputo-Pearl said.

The union has long desired to slow or stop the growth of new charters, so the move sounded like political opportunism to charter advocates. Luis Vizcaino, a spokesman for the California Charter Schools Assn., did not mince words. He called the union’s citing of the coronavirus crisis “shameful and offensive.”

“UTLA leadership needs to get its priorities straight during this unprecedented health crisis, focus on all students, and apologize to the kids and families they have continuously targeted,” said Luis Vizcaino, referring to charter school supporters. “We are better together, and we need leaders who unite, not divide, our community to meet this moment.”