Teachers union boss knocks 'boneheaded' LA school chief in contract fight

A teachers' union president says the new superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is being “boneheaded” in a fight over the district's schools.

American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten said during an interview on Thursday that LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner is putting his own agenda above the needs of children in the public school district and forcing teachers to go on strike next week.

“It’s actually the superintendent of schools whose being pretty boneheaded about this stuff because they rather actually think about structure and accountability instead of what are the needs of children,” Weingarten told Hill.TV’s Buck Sexton and Krystal Ball on “Rising.”

Weingarten argued that Beutner is more focused on “destabilizing the school system” rather than “meeting the needs of kids.”

Beutner, a former investment banker and one-time Los Angeles deputy mayor, has become a controversial figure at the center of ongoing negotiations between the Los Angeles teachers' union and LAUSD.

United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) claim that the superintendent and the school board are prioritizing charter schools over public ones.

Beutner, meanwhile, has insisted that he’s trying to improve the city’s education system by bringing public and charter schools together under the same leadership. Charter schools are independently owned and operated separately from the public school system.

The two groups met on Wednesday for another round of contract talks following nearly two years of negotiations but made little progress.

Both the school district and union have said they want smaller class sizes, higher salaries and more counselors and nurses in schools across the district. There is, however, a debate over how to fund these needs.

Union representatives have argued that too many resources are going to charter schools and they maintain that the school district has additional funds that aren't being used, a claim which the district had denied.

More than 30,000 teachers in the union are prepared to walk out on Monday after a Los Angeles judge found no reason to delay a planned strike against the school district.

UTLA initially planned to strike on Thursday but postponed the action while awaiting for a court ruling over the legality of the union's strike notice.

—Tess Bonn