LAUSD Strike, Rain And Lack Of Officials Impacting City Section High School Athletics


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Los Angeles Unified School District schools were closed Tuesday, the first day of a three-day strike led by SEIU Local 99, the service worker union representing around 30,000 bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians and special education assistants. Members of the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), walked out in solidarity, too.

No school means no sports, so the strike will heavily impact high school athletics this week.

Many high school coaches are also on-campus teachers who will participate in the strike, which means sports like baseball, softball, boys volleyball and track and field can’t practice or participate in competition without their coach.

Christian Carbajal, a physical education teacher and softball coach at Kennedy High in Granada Hills, was out in the rain at 6:30 a.m. Tureday picketing with her colleagues. Despite knowing she won’t be with her team for the next three days, she made sure to make the stretch a teachable moment.

“Anytime you have an opportunity to stand up for something bigger than yourself, you make it happen,” Carbajal said. “It was cold, but I told the team why I was doing it, and I hope they see that having a voice is important.”

At a quick glance, it’s easy to see why practices and games can’t be carried out while the strike is ongoing, but the weather adds an extra layer of challenges. As the rain continues to pour, baseball and softball coaches have no choice but to hope their respective fields aren’t getting ruined beyond return. If a coach goes onto campus to perform maintenance on their field, it would be considered crossing the picket line.

“There are people on the inside (still on campus) that can help. I offered to take them to dinner if they can drag the field,” Carbajal said laughing. “I’ve already had to reschedule nine games this season, we have to play Friday’s game.”

Local charter schools like Birmingham, Granada Hills and El Camino Real do not fall underneath the footprint of LAUSD, which will allow its spring sports to continue as usual. The charter schools can practice and compete against each other, but if an LAUSD school is scheduled this week, the game will have to be rescheduled. It’s likely any outdoor competition would’ve been canceled anyway due to rain, which Cleveland baseball coach Peter Gunny believes can somewhat even the playing field.

“The rain won’t allow any team to practice or play, so that evens the playing field a bit,” Gunny said. “We play Granada Hills Friday, and the rain is expected to stop Thursday, so they’ll likely get to practice Thursday before the game. We’ll have to play the game with one practice this week, which was Monday.”

Gunny is a physical education teacher at Cleveland and the son of two longtime LAUSD teachers and coaches. Gunny’s mother, Carolyn, is in her 53rd year at Granada Hills and his father, Edmound, was at Taft for 39 years.

“My mother was part of a strike back in the late 1980’s, I think,” Gunny said. “I know she made the decision to strike thinking about our family and I’m doing the same now.”

Grant High athletics director Jon Manocchio says the strike adds a third layer of challenges in his eyes.

“The rain has been one thing, but the other issue for us has been getting officials for the games,” he said. “I’ve had to switch boys volleyball and junior varsity baseball games numerous times already. One assigner told us to have coaches umpire a baseball game.”

“This is just going to back us up more,” Manocchio added.

Grant has yet to have a track meet this spring due to the weather and is still waiting to play its first home game on its new baseball field, which was part of a $170,000 construction project. Since the project has concluded and the grass has been laid down, the baseball team has yet to play a game because of the rain.

“The kids can’t wait. You should see it, it looks like Augusta,” Manocchio said. “But we can’t play on it.”

The strike will delay any baseball games on campus for a bit longer.

Ufficio Stampa

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