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Times Sues LAUSD for Info on Teachers

LOS ANGELES (CN) - The Los Angeles Times claims Los Angeles Unified School District is violating public records law by refusing to release records tying teachers, by name, to the expected and actual test scores of their students.

The Times asked a Superior Court judge to order LAUSD to deliver the records the newspaper requested under California Public Records Act.

The Times claims it has used school district records to compile an online database of individual teachers' performances by calculating the difference between students' projected and actual test results.

It claims it used this "'value added' methodology" to rate thousands of city school teachers.

Last year, the school district announced its own school rating system, using a value-added system called Academic Growth Over Time (AGT) scores, according to the Times.

After the district disclosed scores for individual schools, the Times requested individual teachers' AGT scores, but the district denied them, saying they were exempt from disclosure, or omitted details in the records it did provide, including names of teachers or the schools where they work.

Though the district later provided "unique," or what the complaint calls "pseudo" identifiers for teachers, the numbers did not match with numbers previously disclosed to the paper, the Times says.

"By creating entirely new 'identifiers,' LAUSD effectively precluded The Times from connecting teachers with their AGT scores," the complaint states.

The Times says the school district "has no reasonable grounds" for claiming the information is exempt from disclosure. The newspaper claims complete records would "provide more meaningful information to its readers, by disclosing the range of scores that can be found at Los Angeles public schools."

The Times says that the district represented that litigation between LAUSD and a teacher's union also prevent it from releasing the information.

The Times disputes that. It claims that the Superior Court ruled in Jane Doe 1 vs. Deasy that the AGT score would not be used to measure teacher performance, but the district has still refused to release teacher names, along with corresponding "pseudo-identification numbers."

"Since September 12, 2012, there has been no further communication from LAUSD that its position has or will change. The Times alleges on information and belief that LAUSD will continue to refuse to permit members of the public, including The Times, to inspect or obtain copies of the requested public records in violation of the CPRA," the complaint states, abbreviating California Public Records Act.

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy told Courthouse News he was not available for comment.

The Times is represented by Rochelle Wilcox, with Davis Wright Tremaine.

The (nonparty) United Teachers Los Angeles union did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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