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School Officials Settle Lawsuit Where Students Alleged They Were Forced To Take Phony Classes, Run Errands

LOS ANGELES (  —  California school officials have settled a lawsuit where students alleged they were forced to take phony classes and run errands for teachers.

KCAL9's Dave Lopez reports the settlement could have a huge impact on high schools around the state.

Briana Lamb, in her senior year at Fremont High School, would ask for various courses and was always told to wait.

"Or they would say, 'Could you come back in another week?'" Lamb told KCAL9's Dave Lopez.

She said she went to three classrooms a day where all she did was stamp letters and cut papers out of work books.

Another student -- Birdianna Chebola -- discussing the lawsuit Thursday said the thing she did most in these situations was "sit and try to pass the time quickly."

She went to Griffith Middle School and said she thought that was how the school worked. She didn't know any better.

A group of attorneys, headed by Mark Rosenbaum, and working with the ACLU  filed suit against the state's Department of Education against what he called "sham courses."

At least six schools -- some in Los Angeles and some in Oakland -- took part in the practice.

Lamb said she made up the course requirement work by taking classes after school.

The suit alleged that the schools purposely kept students in poorer sections of the state from taking classes they needed to graduate.

The state agreed to immediately provide help to all schools so that students like Lamb or Chebola will never have to just sit around doing nothing -- or errands -- again.

"They're not in Beverly Hills, they're not in Palo Alto," said Rosenbaum, "so they just assumed this is part of the norm."

The lawsuit shone a spotlight on what happened at Jefferson High School in South Los Angeles last year. Hundreds of seniors, needing various classes to graduate, were told to sit in the cafeteria or gymnasium and do nothing.

When a school official was asked how this could happen, Rosenbaum quotes the official as saying, "I've never been to Jefferson, I don't know what's going on in Jefferson, I haven't paid any attention to what's going on in Jefferson, it's not my job."

Rosenbaum said it is their job now and officials have to pay attention.






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