The 48-year-old special education instructor and single mother can't
enroll her two children, Aria and Christopher Britt, 16, in Burbank
schools because she is not a permanent employee or city resident.
Aria and Christopher, who have attended Burbank school most of their
lives, were disenrolled over the summer when the family moved to the
North Hollywood section of Toluca Lake. The family had lived in Burbank
"I don't think it's fair. And what is really insulting is that when I
petitioned it they told me that I don't count because I'm not a real
teacher," said Smith, who has worked at the district for about a year.
District policy allows permanent employees who do not live in Burbank
to enroll their children in city schools but makes no such provision for
nonemployees, even if they are working full time as Smith has been doing
CHILDREN OUT OF SCHOOL
Smith said the district's refusal to accept her children was a slap in
"I take issue with this because I do the same work as permanent
teachers and I don't have medical benefits, so the least they could do is
let my children continue in Burbank," she said. "If I didn't work here I
wouldn't be fighting this."
Hank Jannace, Burbank Unified's director of Pupil Services, said the
district stands behind the policy. Jannace declined to speak specifically
about Smith's case but he said the rule in question dates back to 1994.
"Substitute teachers are not permanent employees, they are temporary
employees. Our policy only allows permanent employees to enroll their
children in Burbank schools," Jannace said.
Three weeks after the new school year started, Smith's children have
yet to attend a class. She has spoken to Los Angeles Unified School
District officials about starting a home-schooling program, but in the
meantime Aria and Christopher have missed the beginning of their
sixth-grade and 11th-grade years.
Asked why she doesn't enroll her children in North Hollywood schools
while she continues to push for them to be registered in Burbank, Smith
cited transportation problems. She doesn't have a car, leaving her unable
to drive them to the North Hollywood schools. In Burbank, they can either
catch a ride with friends or walk with schoolmates, she said.
For Aria, the reasons behind her inability to register at David Starr
Jordan are uninteresting. She just knows she's missing out on time with
"I'm not too happy about it. I don't think it's really fair," said
Aria, who graduated from Theodore Roosevelt Elementary in June.
Smith, who has applied for a full-time teaching job with the district,
said she sees a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.
"I may be hired permanently at Burbank High School so hopefully the
problem will be resolved," she said. "I'm just angry that my children
were put through this and I want others to know."