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Our Turn

Like athletes, politicians are expected to declare victory in advance of their contest. The standard stump speech is expected to include the words “when I win this election, I will…” because the first job of the candidate is to get voters to contemplate them sitting in office. Using the words “if I win election” does not inspire that same confidence.

Tamar Galatzan takes things further and publicly ignores the fact that the election will even occur. As voters prepare to make their decision she has refused them every opportunity to compare her against other candidates by blowing off candidate forums. Instead of addressing the voters directly through the city’s free program to provide a video statement to the voters, she relies on the charter schools to spend over $900,000 trying to buy the seat for her. A student journalist and LAUSD graduate could not even get an interview with her. When addressing the concerns of parents, she promises them that she “will continue with my plan to ask the board and the superintendent to review the Breakfast in the Classroom program at the conclusion of the school year,” ignoring the fact that this will occur after the voters have spoken.

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Tamar Speaks

“We will not be making any changes to our procedures at this time.”

- Tamar Galatzan


After writing my last blog about the introduction of Breakfast in the Classroom at Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies (SOCES), Tamar Galatzan  replied to parents about their concerns. Unfortunately, instead of addressing the concerns raised by the 98% of families who signed opt-out forms, she relied on the advice of the District’s legal department. The same people who concluded to it was permissible to claim that a middle school student can consent to sex with a teacher, have now decided “that parents have no constitutional right to require the district to obtain signed permission slips for participation in Breakfast in the Classroom.” The email exchange is as follows:

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The Dog Ate My Homework

The_Dog_Ate_My_Homework.jpgWhen the iPad scandal and MiSiS crisis forced John Deasy to suddenly resign in October, the School Board was forced to scramble for a quick replacement. In their haste, they ignored the baggage that accompanied former Superintendent Ramon Cortines, including “claims of sexual harassment,” and reappointed him to the position. The public was assured that this was only being done on an interim basis and that his contract would expire June 30, 2015.

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Picking Cherries

The “LAUSD has been under federal court oversight since 1996 for systemic non-compliance of special education law...The Independent Monitor is responsible for determining whether LAUSD meets compliance with the Modified Consent Decree and special education law.” One of the ways that he gathers information is through public hearings where members of the LAUSD community are invited to provide comments.

Since Board members have stated their desire to remove the district from the oversight of the Consent Decree, the information presented in this hearing should have been of interest to them. Unfortunately, not one of them bothered to attend this mornings session.

The following is the statement that I provided at this hearing:

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This is Parent Engagement?

District Goals: 1) 100 percent graduation; 2) Proficiency for all; 3) 100 percent attendance; 4) Parent and community engagement; 5) School safety

- LAUSD Web Site


The parents of the Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies (SOCES) did their homework. When they realized that their school was slated to be enrolled in the Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) program, they looked at how it had affected other schools in the district. This well-intentioned but poorly executed program had numerous problems including disruptions to the learning environment, bug infestations and a reliance on sugary, processed foods. When the school administration distributed opt-out forms to gauge how many students would not participate, a parent representative reports that 2,050 of the 2,100 students in the school filled them out. It was clear the school community did not want this program.

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Cascading Special Elections?

Mitchell Englander has not even been sworn into his second term as City Councilman for the 12th district and has already announced the search for his next job. After asking the voters to give him a five and a half year term last March, Englander announced his bid in April for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Fifth District. If successful, the resulting vacancy will force the city to hold a special election and the taxpayers to pay for the associated costs. So much for the “record as a leader in...fiscal responsibility.”

Rumors are already circulating that if the 12th Council District seat is left vacant, Tamar Galatzan will move into the area and make her second run for the Council. Her first came two years into her first term as a LAUSD Board Member, when Galatzan ran unsuccessfully in the special election to replace Wendy Greuel in the council’s 2nd District. This in turn could potentially trigger another costly special election to replace Galatzan on the School Board.

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The DINOsaur In The Room

DINOsaur.jpgI think that it is fitting that the School Board elections are nonpartisan as it reminds us that our votes should be about the children instead of party loyalties. Unfortunately, Tamar Galatzan’s supporters do not agree and sent out two mailings last week criticizing the party membership of her opponent, Scott Schmerelson. While they warned voters of the “elephant in the room,” they ignored the DINOsaur standing behind him; in many ways, Ms. Galatzan is a Democrat in name only.

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Graduation Scam

A district may not require students to purchase a cap and gown as a condition of participating in the graduation ceremony. The CDE recommends that a district that requires students to wear a cap and gown at the ceremony inform students that: (1) the district will provide caps and gowns for graduating seniors for use during the ceremony, and (2) students also have the option to purchase an appropriate cap and gown from a vendor. No student should be required to self-identify as indigent in order to receive a cap and gown from the district.

- California Department of Education, 2013


Seniors celebrate their final year of public school with a series of rituals that are sure to put a strain on the finances of many families. In fact, yearbooks, proms, grad night and senior portraits are not even accessible to some. However, the state of California has declared that the pomp and circumstance of the graduation ceremony should be open to all. It has declared that it “is an ‘educational activity’ [and] pursuant to EC Section 490109(a)...a pupil fee cannot be charged.

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Fox in Charge of the Hen House?

Based on conservative estimates, California stands to lose more than $100 million to charter school fraud in 2015.”

- Risking Public Money: California Charter School Fraud


Last year California’s charter schools received $3 billion in public funding. While these schools are designed to be “free from most regulations that apply to school districts,” the law does not provide them total free reign. School districts who approve charters are given the responsibility of ensuring that these schools are fiscally sound, adhere to academic standards and are equally accessible to all students. Unfortunately, the Board’s effectiveness as a regulatory agency is severely compromised by the fact that organizations representing charter schools are the biggest spenders in LAUSD elections.

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What About Your Own Backyard?

“The nurse is at the school three days a week, my daughter has diabetes five days a week.”

- LAUSD Parent

The warning letter is marked “2nd Notice,” but it is actually the fourth one that we have received. Our daughter has received all of her vaccinations and we have turned in her records to reflect this fact, but once again we are receiving notice that if she does not receive her second Varicella shot she will be “excluded from school attendance.” The new deadline that we have been given is May 4. These continued warnings expose serious flaws in our District’s health policies and calls into question their ability to protect our students in the event of an outbreak.

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