LAUSD Supt. Carvalho Offers Sobering Look at Enrollment Drops and Staff Shortages

Between 10,000 and 20,000 students have stopped attending Los Angeles Unified schools or are not enrolled, Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said earlier this month. The drop-off has been highest among students in the younger grades. Over the next decade, enrollment is expected to decline by nearly 30%. 

In addition, chronic absenteeism rose to 20% last school year, not counting absences due to COVID. All of this has affected student performance. When the results of the spring 2022 standardized test scores are released, “it will show significant loss, significant regression,” Carvalho said

The newly-minted head of LAUSD — along with 25 members of his staff — personally reached out to families missing from school rosters to find out why their children are not attending public school. He found that many had moved out of the country or state.  

Some undocumented families returned to their home countries when the pandemic hit and took their children with them. Other families with resources moved to states like Texas and Florida in pursuit of lower taxes and a political environment that more closely aligns with their beliefs. Those that did not move faced obstacles that the district was unable to help them overcome, including lack of transportation or a physical or mental health crisis in the family.

Carvalho said the district must remove barriers to attendance, perhaps by offering expanded transportation and counseling services. The district must also demonstrate that it has high-quality programs, secure campuses, and safe classrooms.

All of this comes amid a major teacher shortage. LAUSD has around 900 teacher vacancies. It’s also short by some 200 bus drivers.