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Los Angeles Unified School District, California

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Los Angeles Unified School District
Los Angeles County, California
Los Angeles Unified School District seal.gif
District Profile
Superintendent:Ramon C. Cortines
Enrollment:653,826 students
Graduation rate:68.1%[1]
Number of schools:1,177
Budget: $13 billion
Website:School Home Page
Board of Education
Board president:Richard Vladovic
Board members:7
Term length:4
Los Angeles Unified School District is a school district in California that served 653,826 students during the 2013-2014 school year.[2] This district is the largest by enrollment in the state of California.

The Los Angeles Unified Schools District has experienced a number of conflicts during the 2014-2015 school year, including a federal investigation into a new iPad program, the resignation of the superintendent and divisive contract negotiations between United Teachers Los Angeles.

See also: Issues in Los Angeles Unified School District

About the district

Los Angeles Unified School District is located in Los Angeles County, California.

Los Angeles Unified School District is located in Los Angeles County, California. The county seat of Los Angeles County is Los Angeles.[3] Los Angeles County was home to 10,017,068 residents in 2013, according to the United States Census Bureau.[4]


Higher education achievement

Los Angeles County underperformed in comparison to the rest of California in terms of higher education achievement in 2012. The United States Census Bureau found that 29.5 percent of Los Angeles County residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 30.5 percent for California as a whole.[4]

Median household income

The median household income for Los Angeles County was $56,241 compared to $61,400 for the entire state.[4]

Poverty rate

The percentage of people living below the poverty level in Los Angeles County was 17.1 percent while it was 15.3 percent for the state of California.[4]

Racial and political demographics

Racial Demographics, 2013[4]
Race Los Angeles County (%) California (%)
White 71.5 73.5
Black or African American 9.2 6.6
American Indian and Alaska Native 1.5 1.7
Asian 14.6 14.1
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander 0.4 0.5
Two or more race 2.9 3.7
Hispanic or Latino 48.3 38.4

Presidential Voting Pattern, Los Angeles County[5]
Year Democratic Vote Republican Vote
2012 2,216,903 885,333
2008 2,295,853 956,425
2004 1,907,736 1,076,225
2000 1,710,505 871,930

Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin, not a race. Therefore, the Census allows citizens to report both their race and that they are from a "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin simultaneously. As a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table will exceed 100 percent. Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one- or two-tenths off from being exactly 100 percent.[6] This Ballotpedia page provides a more detailed explanation of how the Census Bureau handles race and ethnicity in its surveys.


Ramon C. Cortines is the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District. He is serving on an interim basis until a replacement for former superintendent Dr. John Deasy is found.[7] A former superintendent of the district, Cortines retired in 2011 when Deasy took over the position as superintendent. The 82-year-old said he hopes to renew a sense of teamwork within the district and to investigate a number of technological problems the district had in the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year. Cortines previously served in administrative roles in school districts in New York City, San Francisco, Pasadena and San Jose. He also served as special advisor to former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley.[8]

School board

The Los Angeles Unified Board of Education consists of seven members elected to four-year terms by geographic districts.[9]

Los Angeles Unified Board of Education
Member District Term Ends
George McKenna 1 2015
Mónica García 2 2017
Tamar Galatzan 3 2015
Steve Zimmer 4 2017
Bennett Kayser 5 2015
Monica Ratliff 6 2017
Richard Vladovic 7 2015

School board elections

See also: Los Angeles Unified School District elections (2015)

Members of the Los Angeles Unified Board of Education are elected to four-year terms on a staggered basis every odd-numbered year. Seats from Districts 2, 4 and 6 were up for election in 2013, and seats from Districts 1, 3, 5 and 7 will be up for election in 2015.[9]

Public participation in board meetings

The Los Angeles Unified Board of Education maintains the following policy on public testimony during board meetings:

  • Individuals wishing to speak at a Board meeting must sign up at the meeting.
  • There will be no sign ups in advance of the meeting.
  • Speakers must sign up prior to the item being acted upon by the Board. Speakers should plan to arrive early as items with no speakers may be acted on at the beginning of the meeting.[10]

—Los Angeles Unified School District website, (2014)[9]


The table below displays the budget for Los Angeles Unified School District:[11]

Expenditures by Category
School Year Staff Expenses Student Services Operational Expenses Debt Service Other Budget Total
Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget
2011-2012 $7,554,000,000 55.4% $622,000,000 4.6% $3,772,400,000 27.7% $1,654,400,000 12.1% $22,900,000 0.2% $13,625,700,000
2012-2013 $7,200,800,000 57.4% $498,300,000 4% $3,104,900,000 24.8% $1,712,100,000 13.7% $20,000,000 0.2% $12,536,100,000
2013-2014 $7,521,400,000 57.7% $623,700,000 4.8% $3,229,500,000 24.8% $1,629,900,000 12.5% $21,100,000 0.2% $13,025,600,000
Averages: $7,425,400,000 57% $581,333,333.33 4% $3,368,933,333.33 26% $1,665,466,666.67 13% $21,333,333.33 0% $13,062,466,666.67

Teacher salaries

Los Angeles Unified School District employed 32,713 teachers in the 2011-2012 school year.[12] Teacher salaries are categorized based on higher education achievement, professional development and years of service. A teacher with a bachelor's degree can earn higher salaries by pursuing graduate courses with raises at credit intervals. The table below shows the salary schedule for teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District for the 2014-2015 school year.[13]

Salary structure
Degree level Minimum salary ($) Maximum salary ($)
B.A. 45,637 52,406
B.A. + 14 45,692 54,709
B.A. + 28 46,178 57,552
B.A. + 42 46,232 60,601
B.A. + 56 46,719 63,553
B.A. + 70 46,794 66,570
B.A. + 84 48,600 69,521
B.A. + 98 49,681 73,900


Teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District are represented by United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA). Leadership of the UTLA includes chapter chairs from each school site in the district, seven city-wide officers that conduct the union's regular business, a 350-member House of Representatives that determines the union's direction and a 50-member board of directors that carries out any mandates from the UTLA House of Representatives.[14]

Schools in Los Angeles Unified School District


Los Angeles Unified School District served 653,826 students during the 2013-2014 school year. Enrollment in the district decreased by 2.6 percent from 2009 to 2013.[2]

Total enrollment
Year Enrollment Year-to-year change (%)
2009-2010 671,088 -
2010-2011 667,251 -0.6
2011-2012 662,140 -0.8
2012-2013 655,494 -1.0
2013-2014 653,826 -0.3

District schools

The Los Angeles Unified School District operates 1,177 schools. A list of those schools can be found here.

Academic performance

California STAR program

California's Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program, which includes the California Standards Tests, the California Modified Assessment and the California Alternate Performance Assessment, measures student achievement in grades two through 11 for California's academic content standards. STAR results include English-language arts and mathematics in grades two through 11, science in grades five and eight through 11 and history and social science in grades eight, 10 and 11. In high school, math and science tests reflect the course in which the student is enrolled.

There are five STAR performance benchmarks to indicate a student's academic proficiency. "Proficient" or "Advanced" indicates that a student is meeting or exceeding state standards. The table below shows the percentage of students in the district who scored proficient or advanced during the 2012-2013 school year.[1]

STAR Results, % of Proficient/Advanced Students, 2012-2013
Subject District (%) State average (%)
English-Language Arts 47 55
Mathematics 45 50
Science 52 59
History and Social Science 40 49


Superintendent accused of sexual misconduct

A lawsuit filed in February 2015 charges Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines with sexual misconduct. This lawsuit is the third of its kind filed by Scot Graham, who was initially hired as the district's Director of Real Estate in 2000. In his previous lawsuits he accused Cortines of making sexual advances toward him, but in this latest lawsuit, Graham further revealed actions and comments Cortines made against other district leaders, including chief lawyer for the district David Holmquist and board member Monica Garcia.[15]

Neither of the previous lawsuits advanced to court proceedings. Cortines denied any wrongdoing both times, though he did admit that he and Graham did share “consensual spontaneous adult behavior.”[15]

In his third lawsuit, Graham added the district as a defendant with Cortines. He said the district failed to investigate his previous claims before hiring Cortines as superintendent for a third time in October 2014. He said that has created a work atmosphere of "ongoing fear of Cortines."[15]

"This is simply a frivolous refiling of the same allegations. The details included in this complaint are intended to do nothing more than generate sensational headlines, and needlessly subject current and former leaders at the district to baseless personal attacks. The District will vigorously defend against these claims as it has done with the last two lawsuits alleging the same causes of action," Holmquist said in a statement.[15]

Rob Hennig, Graham's lawyer, disagreed. "“The issue is very simple, as Mr. Graham’s claims of sexual harassment have never been adjudicated, and the district has yet to conduct an independent, objective investigation of Mr. Graham’s claims," said Hennig.[15]

Hennig said the third lawsuit centers on Graham's distress since Cortines rejoined the district. According to Graham's spokesman Herndon Graddick, Graham has been diagnosed with stress related seizure disorder.[15]

Teachers union rejects district's labor contract offer

On the same day teachers in nearly every school in the district staged a short protest, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) rejected the district's most recent labor contract offer. The union is demanding an 8.5 percent salary increase and smaller class sizes. The district offered a 5 percent salary increase retroactive to July 1, 2014, a 9 percent increase in minimum salary for teachers in the first year and $13 million used to lower class sizes. The difference between the two parties is approximately $800 million, according to the district.[16][17]

United Teachers Los Angeles logo.png

“These people have been the heroes of education for the past eight years,” said UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl at a press conference on February 12, 2015, before the union formally rejected the offer. According to Caputo-Pearl, 3,000 classes in the district contain more than 45 students.[16]

"The things we are demanding—lower class sizes, fully staffed schools and fair compensation—are not radical. They are necessary. School employees have been breaking their backs to make up for a lack of staffing and resources at schools, but it’s too much to sustain. Now’s the time to turn this around,” added Caputo-Pearl.[16]

UTLA originally demanded a 10 percent raise in salary, lowered it to 9 percent and then to 8.5 percent. It is the only union who has not approved a new contract with the district. The other unions tied to the district accepted a 2 percent salary increase.[17]

Superintendent Ramon Cortines said he was disappointed in UTLA's rejection, calling the district's offer "responsible."[17]

“We are dealing with a budget that has had a deficit for three years and we are trying to balance it. Again, we must learn to live within our means as we preserve vital and necessary educational services for our students,” said Cortines.[17]

The district and the union next met for negotiations on February 18, 2015, but they left at an impasse. With a significant gap between the two sides on compensation after 18 bargaining sessions, the two groups decided to ask the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) to appoint a mediator for the next round of negotiations. The PERB must first affirm the negotiations are deadlocked before appointing a mediator. If a mediator does not help the two parties come to an agreement, a fact-finding panel will recommend terms of settlement. If that also fails to work, the teachers in the district may strike.[18][19]

In the meantime, UTLA held a downtown rally called "Making Our Stand at Grand" on February 26, 2015, in order to show their resolve.[20] Thousands of teachers gathered in front of Los Angeles City Hall to rally for a new contract. Before the rally began, Cortines issued a statement telling the teachers the district's latest offer was still on the table.[21]

LAUSD first district in country to represent immigrant children

Beginning in April 2015, lawyers for the Los Angeles Unified School District will provide legal aid at deportation hearings for a small number of unaccompanied minors. Under a new legal program called AYUDA, the pro-bono cases will be pre-screened by outside immigration law experts and be taken on a volunteer basis.[22]

Ten district lawyers will be handling these cases. They will work between one and three hours per week and make up those hours by working late or on weekends. Several thousand unaccompanied children are currently unrepresented in their cases with the Los Angeles Immigration Court.[22]

The program was approved 6-1 in a board meeting on February 10, 2015. Board member Tamar Galatzan was the only one to oppose the motion. As a public sector attorney, she said lawyers should do volunteer work outside of their work hours.[22]

“Anything we can do that doesn’t bankrupt us that helps kids, I’m for it,” said board member Richard A. Vladovic.[22]

Prior to voting to approve the program, board member George J. McKenna III voiced some concerns. He said the program was a "worthy enterprise" but was concerned that the district was setting an unsupportable precedent and stepping over its responsibilities.[22]

District named in student exercise lawsuit

The Los Angeles Unified School District, along with 36 other school districts, was named in a lawsuit alleging the district's students were not getting enough exercise. The state mandates schools give students in kindergarten through sixth grade 200 minutes of exercise every 10 days of class, in addition to lunch and recess. The lawsuit was filed by Marc Babin and the nonprofit organization Cal200, which he heads.[23]

Babin, a parent and resident of Alameda, settled with the 37 school districts named in the lawsuit. The settlement requires California elementary schools to prove they are providing children with at least the state-mandated minimum number of minutes of physical education. To do this, school districts will publicly document physical education minutes.[23]

Final approval of the settlement must be granted by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Mary Wiss, a decision which is expected to be given by the end of March 2015.[23]

District fights teacher evaluation system repeal

The Los Angeles Unified School District was ordered to partially repeal its teacher evaluation system by California’s Public Employment Review Board less than two years after it was implemented, but lawyers for the district argued that the system should remain in place due to a “constitutional crisis." The element of the evaluation system at issue tied teacher pay to student performance, which United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) called unfair since student performance can be widely influenced by factors outside of the classroom.[24][25]

Implemented in March 2013 and championed by former superintendent John Deasy, LAUSD's teacher evaluation system included observations that UTLA had not consented to. The union filed a complaint with the Public Employment Review Board in 2013, claiming the district had unilaterally imposed the evaluation system without allowing teachers the chance to negotiate it. On December 24, 2014, the review board found that the observation portion of the evaluation system violated state law. The review board ruled that the district restore the "status quo" and pay back the teachers who had lost payment due to the evaluation system with an addition of 7 percent interest each year.[24]

The district had until February 22, 2015, to appeal the decision, which the district decided to do on February 17, 2015. Lawyers for the district filed an appeal with the California Public Employment Relations Board asserting that the teacher evaluation system is needed to ensure students are not deprived of their constitutional right to an education. They said the district should be able to retain its right to create the performance evaluation system for its employees.[24][25]

President of UTLA Alex Caputo-Pearl called on the district to work with teachers to establish a new evaluation system instead of spending resources on the appeal case.[25]

District fires lawyer one year after winning sex abuse case

In November 2013, attorney W. Keith Wyatt won a civil lawsuit case for the Los Angeles Unified School District by arguing that the district had no knowledge of a relationship between a 14-year-old middle school student and her 28-year-old math teacher. He also argued that the student was old enough to consent to having sex with her teacher and bore some responsibility in what happened. One year later, the student is appealing the decision, and the district has dropped Wyatt after he made remarks alleging it was more dangerous to cross the street than to have sex with a teacher.[26][27]

With Wyatt's remarks, more details about the case came to light. The district had been in the hot seat to determine whether or not it was at fault for allowing the relationship between student and teacher to continue for months. For their defensive strategy, the district's lawyers had presented the student's sexual history to the court as evidence, and Wyatt had claimed in his closing arguments that she had pursued the case for financial reasons alone. Because it was a civil trial, rather than a criminal trial, such claims were allowed, and the district was cleared from any responsibility.[26][27]

In July 2011, Elkis Hermida, the teacher involved with the student, had been sentenced to three years in state prison for lewd acts against a child. In that trial, the age of consent was firmly established at 18, meaning the student did not have the ability to consent. In civil cases, however, that line is less firm due to two appellate court rulings that maintained it was possible to argue a minor can consent to have sex with an adult.[27]

Neither the superintendent nor the school board of Los Angeles Unified School District commented on the district's decision to drop Wyatt. Dave Holmquist, the district's general counsel, called Wyatt's comments "inappropriate" and said they undermined "the spirit of the environment we strive to offer our students every day." Though Wyatt did issue a formal apology for his remarks, he did not comment on the district's action to remove him.[26][27]

Superintendent resigns

Dr. John Deasy resigned from his position as superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District on October 15, 2014, after serving the district for three and a half years. The resignation was tendered in a joint statement from Deasy and the Los Angeles Unified Board of Education. Former superintendent Ramon C. Cortines returned to lead the district on an interim basis until a replacement for Deasy is found. Deasy stayed with the district on "special assignment" until December 31, 2014.[7]

Under Deasy's leadership, student test scores and graduation rates improved while suspension rates and dropout rates declined. Despite these improvements to the district, Deasy had an uneasy relationship with United Teachers Los Angeles, the district's teachers union. The union's president Alex Caputo-Pearl said Deasy pushed for too many programs, such as a $1 billion iPad program, the restructuring of struggling schools and the introduction of a student tracking software that ended up being defective, without consideration for educators.[28]

In his letter of resignation, Deasy highlighted the district's improvements under his leadership, including graduation rates, tests scores, attendance rates, suspensions, safety and the number of students taking advanced placement classes. Though he said he was very proud the district stayed focused on its goal to "lift youth out of poverty," he also said serving as superintendent had been "exhausting work" and that he was happy to hand it over to the next leader.[29] Deasy's full letter of resignation can be found here.

Technology programs investigated

Former Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent John Deasy came under fire in the summer of 2014 over a program to give out 700,000 iPads to students and teachers in the district. The $1.3 billion program was suspended before all the iPads could be distributed, and circumstances surrounding the contract negotiations led to a federal grand jury investigation.[30][31][32]

Critics had argued that the iPad program was too expensive and rushed before it was implemented, but more serious complaints started when it was revealed that Deasy had met and communicated with Apple and Pearson before open bidding for the program began in 2013. Questions arose over whether or not the program had been rigged and if Deasy had helped the two companies win the bidding process, which could have stifled competition and cost both the district and taxpayers millions of dollars. Though Deasy halted the program to address the concerns and restart the bidding process, many in the district, including United Teachers Los Angeles, called for an investigation into the matter.[30][33]

Before the iPad program could be resolved, another technological program caused more problems for the district. The automated scheduling and attendance recording system MiSiS caused delayed registration at the start of the 2014-2015 school year.[33] The problems resulted in a judge ordering state officials to review the program. The Los Angeles Unified Board of Education approved a $1.1 million plan to follow through on that order and hired a third-party observer to review the system.[34][35]

Though an investigation into the district's iPad program was started, Deasy resigned in October 2014, before things were resolved. In his joint letter of resignation with the Los Angeles Unified Board of Education, the board said they did not believe Deasy had engaged in any ethical violations or unlawful acts. In the weeks leading up to his resignation, the board's lawyers negotiated a separation agreement with Deasy's lawyers.[35]

The investigation into the iPad program led to a federal grand jury subpoena asking for documents related to the bidding process for the program as well as any documents related to the winning bidders, including former contracts and other projects. The FBI's office of public corruption seized the documents on December 1, 2014. On December 2, 2014, interim superintendent Ramon C. Cortines followed through on Deasy's original suspension of the iPad program, officially canceling it. He said he had to "make sure things are done properly so they are not questioned.” He plans to start a new bidding process in 2015.[32][36]

In December 2014, the United States Department of Education issued a report that gave the district recommendations on how to fix its technology program problems and move forward with future projects. The report suggests that future technology programs be tested before being implemented district-wide. It also suggests consolidating technology support and helplines and implementing a classroom technology strategy for the whole district. The report came in response to a request from Cortines. He asked for a review and for help fixing the MiSiS system. With fixing costs, the district could end up spending as much as four times more than the $25 million it originally budgeted for the system.[37]

Contact information

Los Angeles Unified School District seal.gif

Los Angeles Unified School District
333 S. Beaudry Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Phone: 213-241-1000
Fax: 213-241-8442

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Ed Data, "District Reports: Accountability (API/AYP/Performance)," accessed November 17, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ed Data, "District Reports: Profile of District," accessed November 17, 2014
  3., "California County Map with County Seat Cities," accessed July 1, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 United States Census Bureau, "Los Angeles County, California," accessed July 1, 2014
  5. Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, "Past Election Results," accessed July 1, 2014
  6. United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 U.S. News and World Report, "Los Angeles schools superintendent steps down after classroom gains, clashes with teachers," October 16, 2014
  8. CBS Los Angeles, "New LAUSD Interim Superintendent Ramon Cortines Begins Watch," October 20, 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Los Angeles Unified School District, "Board of Education," accessed November 17, 2014
  10. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  11. Los Angeles Unified School District, "Budget Services & Financial Planning," accessed November 25, 2013
  12. Ed Data, "District Reports: Teacher Salaries," accessed November 17, 2014
  13. Los Angeles Unified School District, "2014-2015 Salaries for Teachers with Regular Credentials (T) C Basis," accessed November 17, 2014
  14. United Teachers Los Angeles, "Governance," accessed December 9, 2014
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 LA School Report, "JUST IN: New lawsuit charges Cortines with sexual misconduct," February 25, 2015
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 LA School Report, "Teachers stage district-wide protest as LAUSD holds firm on money," February 12, 2015
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 LA School Report, "Teachers union flatly rejects latest LA Unified labor contract offer, "February 12, 2015
  18. My News LA, "LAUSD teacher contract negotiations in a deadlock," February 18, 2015
  19. LA School Report, "Still far apart, teachers union, LA Unified agree to declare an impasse," February 18, 2015
  20. LA School Report, "Analysis: A big week for the teachers to demonstrate what they want," February 23, 2015
  21. LA School Report, "Thousands of LA teachers rally downtown for new contract," February 27, 2015
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 22.4 LA School Report, "With 2 votes, LA Unified board moves beyond usual boundaries," February 11, 2015
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Ed Source, "Lawsuit agreement to force schools to provide physical education," February 1, 2015
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Los Angeles Daily News, "Tentative ruling: LAUSD must repeal teacher evaluation system," January 9, 2015
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 Los Angeles Daily News, "‘Constitutional crisis’ declared as Los Angeles Unified lawyers defend teacher evaluation system," February 18, 2015
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 ABC News, "Los Angeles Schools Drop Lawyer Who Won Sex Case," November 14, 2014
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 89.3 KPCC, "LAUSD argued middle schooler can consent to sex with teacher [updated," November 13, 2014]
  28. The Atlantic, "Why Did the Los Angeles Superintendent Resign?" October 17, 2014
  29. Los Angeles Unified School District, "District News: Letter of Resignation from Superintendent John E. Deasy," October 15, 2014
  30. 30.0 30.1 NBC Los Angeles, "Union Calls for Investigation Into LAUSD iPad Program," August 26, 2014
  31. NPR, "The LA School iPad Scandal: What You Need To Know," August 27, 2014
  32. 32.0 32.1 Los Angeles Times, "Federal grand jury subpoenaed documents from L.A. Unified," December 2, 2014
  33. 33.0 33.1 NBC Los Angeles, "Union Demands 'Teacher Jail' For Schools Chief," September 3, 2014
  34. Los Angeles Unified School District, "Employee News: Third-Party MISIS Oversight Report Released," accessed November 17, 2014
  35. 35.0 35.1 Fox 11, "Board Of Education: John Deasy Resigns As Superintendent Of LA Schools," October 15, 2014
  36. NPR, "An Update On LA's iPad Program," December 22, 2014
  37. Los Angeles Daily News, "Federal education officials tell LAUSD how to fix MiSiS and iPads," January 13, 2015