Sac City Unified Demands SCTA to Cease and Desist its Unlawful Effort to Block Students’ Access to the District’s Distance Learning Plan
Letter orders SCTA leadership to end attempts to create confusion for students and families preparing for distance learning
SACRAMENTO – Sacramento City Unified School District today sent a cease and desist letter to the Sacramento City Teachers Association calling on SCTA to cease its direction to its members to ignore the district’s distance learning plan and schedules. Sac City Unified students can little afford any disruption to their education, as 70 percent of students are low-income, foster youth, or English Learners. All students have been impacted by this health crisis, and require a high-quality distance learning program when school resumes. The district is demanding the union immediately retract its communication to its members directing them not to follow the district’s distance learning plan and the district’s schedules.
“Our families do not need additional anxieties and confusion,” said Superintendent Jorge Aguilar. “Instead, students need consistent schedules, with guardrails in place so that they know what their schedules and classrooms should look like. With its promotion of alternative schedules, SCTA is knowingly fueling anxiety and fear among students and families. We heard our parents loudly and clearly: they asked for consistency, live instruction, standards aligned curriculum, and the ability to access recorded lessons. We simply cannot allow anyone to stand in the way of providing that consistency and meeting those expectations.”
In its communication to members, SCTA has promoted schedules inconsistent with the official schedules provided to students by the district. In its letter, the district asserts that SCTA’s coordinated effort to unilaterally implement and promote schedules that conflict with the district’s plan:
- Interferes with the district’s legal obligation to provide students with their constitutional right to education.
- Potentially deprives students with disabilities’ right to services consistent with their Individualized Education Program (IEP) as required by state and federal law including the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- May infringe on legally protected civil rights, by adopting practices which would result in a disparate impact based on student’s race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.
- Constitutes an unfair labor practice by attempting to unilaterally implement the union’s distance learning plan.
Further, SCTA’s alternate schedules themselves are inconsistent with state law, as the schedules fail to provide synchronous learning each day as required by SB 98.
Please view the letter here.
“Our students and their families have been grappling with uncertainty – economic, health, safety, and school – for six months,” said Liz Guillen, Public Advocates Director of legislative and community affairs. “That uncertainty has not only already negatively impacted their education, but their access to basic resources and in many cases their mental health, too. Students and families have a right to equal access to educational opportunity, and recent law in SB 98 sets new standards the District has a legal obligation to provide. The Sacramento community relies on the district for ensuring structure and educational excellence. We pay our taxes to fund their work. District & teachers must put the uncertainty to an end and provide what’s promised as educators and as public servants.”
Sac City Unified and the teachers union have been in negotiations since early summer to come to agreement on a distance learning plan. After no agreement was reached, the union called impasse and the parties moved into mediation. The mediators determined that it was impossible for the parties to come to agreement, and are expected to move the issue to fact-finding. Fact-finding is a non-binding process that can take months to help the parties come to agreement. While the district is committed to continuing to work with SCTA through the fact-finding process, an agreement or decision would not come before school resumes next week. The district cannot wait until the fact finding process is complete to either implement its last, best and final offer or an agreement with SCTA. The district’s students and families cannot afford to further disrupt their learning as the parties await a final decision.
On Saturday, September 5, Sac City Unified announced its distance learning plan and schedule to begin on Tuesday, September 8. This announcement included a list of start times for each school with instructions to families that they would receive a full schedule from their principals over the next day.
SCTA then began asserting that teachers would “actively defy the district’s distance learning plan and schedules.”
The district has created a comprehensive explanation of the differences between the district and SCTA’s plan here. This includes explanations of the difference on:
- Live instruction v. independent learning
- Protections for students with disabilities
- Essential Standards for every student
- Assessments as required by law
- Recorded lessons to help students who may have difficulty with consistent access to live instruction.
- Sac City Unified’s distance learning plan is guided by resounding demands from its parents and community for live instruction: This summer, the district asked its community what was most important to them as part of distance learning. More than half of the 22,000 responses indicated “live instruction” was their number one priority. 71% included live instruction in their top three priorities. Find that data here. District leaders met with parents, students, and community members in listening sessions throughout the summer and heard consistent feedback: the community wants more instruction, more communication, and more accountability as part of any plan.
The district has taken strong action to close the
- On computers: District-issued Chromebooks are in the hands of nearly 27,000 students. This is 64% of SCUSD’s student population. The district has a computer for every student who requests one – and has provided opportunities and events at sites for students to pick them up before school started.
- For internet access: We have also continued to promote Sac City Kids Connect, our partnership with Comcast and the City of Sacramento to provide students with six months of free internet. Hotspots remain available upon request.
- The district has provided direct access to language support in Spanish, Chinese, Hmong, Russian and Vietnamese through it’s mainline phone number at (916) 643-7400.