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Lawsuit: Students at High-Need California Schools Robbed of Learning Time

Eric Flood is a student at Fremont High School in Oakland and a plaintiff in Cruz v. California. "I want to be a part of it so I can help future generations," he told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Students attending nine of California’s most disadvantaged schools lose days, weeks and months of critical classroom instruction through the course of their academic careers, according to a lawsuit filed in Alameda Superior Court on Thursday, May 29. Cruz et al. v. State of California accuses the state of California of failing to address the factors that reduce actual learning time and slowly rob students of an equal education, despite knowing of their existence and impact on students.

Public Counsel and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) filed the lawsuit with the pro bono support of the law firms Carlton Fields Jorden Burt and Arnold & Porter LLP.

Read the latest news: Judge orders state to restore learning time for students at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles.


“When you lose time, you fall miles behind. We don’t have the chance to learn what we need to. The state should be more focused on the real education that’s happening in the classroom,” said Jessy Cruz, a senior at Fremont High School in Los Angeles and lead plaintiff in Cruz v. California. Cruz has experienced misassigned classes, multiple make-work service periods, high teacher turnover, violence and the lack of counseling support.

“Our children are not disposable. They still need their education. This is their future in a very real sense. To know that our students’ instructional time is wasted is a problem for me and should be a problem for everyone in our state,” said Danielle Dixon, a special education teacher at Castlemont High School in Oakland.

“Learning time is the fundamental building block of education,” said Kathryn Eidmann, staff attorney at Public Counsel. “Students at these schools have been losing hours, days and even months of their education since the day they started kindergarten. The state can’t turn back the clock for these students, but it can give students the educational opportunities they deserve starting now.”

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Cruz v. California is supported by grants from the Ford Foundation and the Eli and Edyth Broad Foundation.