State Audit of LAUSD Teacher Jail Costs: Just another Cover-up

EDUCATION POLITICS-What kind of a credible and independent audit of the costs related to LAUSD's removal of allegedly bad teachers can the State of California Auditor objectively perform, when it goes into the audit without questioning anything LAUSD tells them? 

There is no question that it is an expensive proposition to keep charged teachers sitting around, often for years on end, while having to pay their salaries and those of their substitutes. The California State Auditor, in its recently released audit of this practice, never once mentions or takes into consideration the fact that LAUSD saves a fortune when it is able to rid itself -- by hook or by crook or by fabricated charges -- of teachers at the top of the salary scale. These are the teachers with expensive benefits packages and lifetime health benefits -- the ones LAUSD needs to get rid of, one way or another, before they vest. 

The State Auditor presumes from the beginning of its audit that there is an actual net cost and not a net savings achieved when LAUSD targets, removes, and ultimately fires high seniority teachers. It doesn't even consider there just might be an actual savings to LAUSD of $60,000 a year in combined salary and benefits in just the first year these teachers are gone. Simply stated, a major component of what this audit should have looked into has been completely ignored and omitted. And with this blatant omission goes any chance of this audit having any validity, let alone holding accountable for their criminal behavior all those at LAUSD who continue to perpetrate this fraud. 

For one small illustration in this flawed audit -- and what can only be considered a purposeful oversight – we need to examine what is not considered here and elsewhere in the attached State audit. For example, while this audit says: "For a selection of 18 re-assignments (teachers being charged,) costs per case ranged from about $7,000 to nearly $315,000 during the period we reviewed." No information or statistics are given as to how many of these teachers – 93% of whom in unaudited reality were at the top of the salary scale -- were forced out and replaced by fresh out of college "teachers" working on emergency credentials for $35,000, instead of $80,000 a year. And, of course, these young teachers also have significantly less expensive benefits packages. 

If just 16 of these forced-out teachers were at the top of the salary scale, the average cost of removing them was $19,687.50; again, the savings to the District was approximately $60,000 per teacher, leaving a net savings to LAUSD of $40,312.50. And that's in just the first year of this gift to the District that keeps on giving, as long as teachers continue to be dissuaded from sticking around too long. 

It is worth mentioning that both my attorney and I contacted the California State Auditor during this audit with sworn evidence to prove that LAUSD's is actually saving money in the long run on teachers' jail, their substitutes, and all the out of pocket costs it immediately recoups when it forces these high seniority teachers out. I was assured by several people in the California Auditor's office that they would look into this. 

And of course, how or why should the public be concerned, if they are constantly told by all the media marching in lock step with LAUSD that this is about the costs of dealing with "teacher misconduct" and not a felonious scam (see Penal Code 132-134) to get rid of high seniority teachers so the District can save money to squander elsewhere (which is why they needed to target senior teachers in the first place.) 

There's no way LAUSD or the California Auditor could get away with this without the complete cooperation of the mainstream and public media that refuses to report what is actually going on and why. 

If you have any doubts, just read reporter Howard Blume's Los Angeles Times LAUSD party line article about this recent state audit that unquestioningly parrots LAUSD's position that this is only about teacher misconduct: 

Do you think it’s a coincidence that every time the issue of teacher misconduct is mentioned that a picture of convicted teacher Mark Berndt is hauled out to paint all teachers with the same “pervert brush?” Could that be why one element of the Rafe Esquith vs. LAUSD class action suit is defamation...and another is age discrimination? 

(Leonard Isenberg is a Los Angeles observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He was a second generation teacher at LAUSD and blogs at perdaily.com. Leonard can be reached at [email protected]) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.