LAUSD Students Stage A Walkout In Classrooms Without Air-Conditioning

LAUSD might have a tank that was built to fight insurgents in Iraq, but students and teachers are complaining that one thing it doesn't have are functioning air conditioning units in all of its classrooms. The situation reached a breaking point this week as temperatures soared into the triple digits.

LAUSD was having problems with older air conditioning systems all over the district and logged 500 calls for service this week alone, according to the Los Angeles Times. The situation was particularly bad—or at least students were more fed up—at Franklin High in Highland Park. Students walked out of fifth period Tuesday because some classrooms do not have functioning air conditioning. They walked to an auditorium with air conditioning where a principal addressed them before they were moved to another classroom. One student teacher tweeted about the walkout.

There was air conditioning in the room they were moved to, but LAUSD's notoriously shoddy infrastructure was on display in the new classroom:

Shannon Haber, a spokeswoman for the LAUSD, denied students were walking out but said that eight air conditioning units weren't functioning on Franklin's campus. She told the Times, "Safety is our first priority. These kids deserve air conditioning."

Spanish teacher Karla Johnson spoke with KPCC on Monday before the walkout and said that she's been complaining about the air conditioning for 10 years. She heard rumblings that students were considering walking out that week. She brought a temperature gun to school on Monday that registered 92 degrees in her classroom. Clearly, that's too hot for her students, she said: "They are having problems concentrating, they’re falling asleep, they’re sweating. I can see sweat dripping down their face while I’m trying to teach them."

Robert Laughton, the district's deputy director of maintenance and operations told KPCC the district would get a technician on campus by Tuesday morning, but clearly it wasn't resolved in time. Altogether the district has 2,000 service calls pending, a backlog that Laughton considers a "crisis." Air-conditioning repair technicians have been placed on mandatory overtime this week and are expected to be working seven days a week to bring the temperature down in overheated classrooms.