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Morgan Lewis, Public Advocates Secure Settlement for Improved Student Services in Long Beach Unified School District

June 06, 2018

Morgan Lewis and co-counsel Public Advocates, a California nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization, negotiated a settlement between parents and community groups—including Children’s Defense Fund-California—and the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) to provide improved services for the district’s highest-need students.

An administrative complaint against LBUSD challenged the district’s spending plan under California’s Local Control Funding Formula law (LCFF) in its Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). The LCFF was adopted by the state in 2013 to support greater local control, meaningful community engagement, and more equitable spending for all students, especially those who are low-income, English language learners, homeless, and foster youth. The parties disagreed over whether LBUSD’s plan complied with LCFF’s standards for equitably serving the school district’s high-need students.

Morgan Lewis partners Nathan Hochman and Harry Johnson and associates Grace Tse and Sarah Allen worked to secure the breakthrough settlement, which provides significant additional funding for enhanced mental health and social emotional services as well as extended tutoring in math and English Language Arts to students at 30 of the district’s highest need schools. The agreement also supports improved community engagement in LCAP development and monitoring, including Fall and Spring community forums co-hosted with complainants to engage the community in the review of the LCAP, as well as improved sharing of data underlying the LCAP.

The firm has long treated pro bono hours as billable, and recognizes and rewards lawyers who have achieved success in pro bono representations. Eligible lawyers are expected to annually contribute at least 20 hours to pro bono representations. In fiscal year 2017, 97% of Morgan Lewis’s eligible lawyers met that goal while 100% of the firm’s lawyers billed some pro bono time. In total, Morgan Lewis contributed more than 115,000 hours to pro bono representations in fiscal year 2017, an average of more than 62 hours per lawyer.