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California

L.A. charter school teachers reach deal to end strike, the first of its kind in California

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15, 2019 Teachers at The Accelerated Schools, a community of public chart
Teachers at the Accelerated Schools, a network of charter schools in South Los Angeles, picket Jan. 15.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A South Los Angeles charter school network reached a tentative deal Sunday to end an eight-day strike, the first job action of its kind in California, union officials said.

Accelerated Schools’ teachers are expected to return to their classrooms Monday morning and vote on the agreement in the afternoon, United Teachers Los Angeles said in a news release.

Teachers at Accelerated’s three schools walked out Jan. 15, a day after thousands of other L.A. educators at regular public schools began a strike against the L.A. Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest school system.

Charter schools are publicly funded but run separately from regular public schools. UTLA represents teachers in district schools and at Accelerated under different contracts.

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The Accelerated walkout marked the first time that a charter school organization in California went on strike, and only the second nationally. The Accelerated Schools’ strike followed a recent four-day walkout at the Acero charter school network in Chicago, the first charter school job action in the U.S.

While LAUSD teachers demanded better pay, smaller class sizes and more support staff, more than 75 Accelerated instructors sought increased job security and improved health benefits to reduce the high teacher turnover rate at the schools.

From 2016 to 2018, the turnover rate among Accelerated teachers was 50%, the union said. The school network serves 1,700 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

The tentative Accelerated agreement includes better health benefits and a $10,000 annual bonus for teachers, half of which will be awarded when contracts are renewed at the end of the school year. The other half will be given two months into the school year.

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“We think this will go a long way towards dealing with the teacher retention problem,” said Hong Bui, UTLA’s chief negotiator with Accelerated.

The deal also calls for a severance package for teachers: three-months’ salary and health benefits.

Bui said he hopes that the severance package will deter school management from arbitrarily letting teachers go.

As it stands, Accelerated teachers wait until April to learn whether their contracts for the next school year will be renewed, Bui said.

“We’ve seen good teachers, respected by their peers and liked by students, not given a contract to return,” he said.

The board of directors of Accelerated Schools said the contract also called for the creation of a joint committee of union and management to develop criteria for employment contracts and teacher evaluations.

laura.newberry@latimes.com | Twitter: @LauraMNewberry


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