What is the Opposite of Transparent?

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The records you have requested are exempt from disclosure pursuant to California Government Code §6254(f) as they are the subject of an on-going investigation.

-LAUSD Office of the General Counsel

It has been almost two years since David Binkle was removed from his position as LAUSD’s Food Services Director.  A draft audit by the Inspector General found that the food services department was “at a minimum being mismanaged and at worst being consistently abused.” While this draft was “expected to be completed by early summer” 2015, the District still maintains that the investigation is “on-going”.

It has been more than a year since Binkle grew weary of his stay in Food Services Director Jail and retired from the District. However, the facts of the case are still relevant. While the report accused him “of failing to report payments from vendors to attend school food conferences”, Binkle has stated that his “actions were approved and encouraged from senior district officials, general counsel or the ethics office”. These senior officials include John Deasy and Michelle King, who was later promoted to be the District’s Superintendent. If Binkle is, in fact, a fall guy and his actions were approved and encouraged by Deasy and King, why is it that he alone has paid the price?

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Resolution: Promoting Transparency by the LAUSD

Whereas, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is accountable to all of its students, including the more than 640,000 students enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade, the parents who entrust the care and education of their children to the District and the taxpayers who fund its operation;

Whereas, being accountable requires the LAUSD to be transparent in its operations;

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No action from charter school board as lavish spending concerns loom

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How messed up is California’s charter school sector? You won’t believe how much.

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Who Does The LAUSD Board Serve?

Charter families have lined up at dawn in biting cold winds holding babies. They’ve sweated it out for hours standing around ice chests or taking turns under canopies. They’ve waited hours—sometimes nearly a full a day—to get into an LA Unified school board meeting. Then, they wait hours more just to be heard.”

-LA School Report

Despite the stated goal of the LAUSD to have “parent and community engagement”, it is clear that the public is the furthest thing from the Board’s mind when they schedule their meetings. Most are held during the day when working parents, teachers and students cannot participate. The Board Room only holds 155 people, often leaving many people waiting outside or attempting to hear the proceedings in Beaudry's employee cafeteria amidst the din of food service. The marathon meetings often last past 8:00 PM, leaving parents with cranky, hungry children as they wait for their turn to speak.

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Resolution: Board Meeting Accessibility to the Public

Whereas, it is a stated goal of the Los Angeles Unified School District to have “parent and community engagement”;

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A Letter to the LAUSD Charter School Division

This morning I sent this email to atatioss@lausd.net and Jose Cole-Gutierrez the LAUSD Charter School Division. El Camino Real Charter High School must act with transparency and publically release the report that they commissioned with public funds from Oracle Investigations Group.

Unfortunately, El Camino Real Charter High School continues to thumb its nose  at the Brown Act. As stated in a Los Angeles Daily News article published on Saturday, the Governing Board is scheduled to receive the report from Oracle Investigations Group at its September 21, meeting. Unfortunately, they are planning to retreat into closed session to do so.

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The Unrepresented

The_Unrepresented.jpgGerrymander: “manipulate the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party or class.

-Oxford Dictionaries

If one wants to see a visual representation of “gerrymandered”, the map of LAUSD District 5 is a good place to start. In an effort to carve our Hunger Game like districts, the mapmakers at the Los Angeles City Council took two larger sections and connected them with a long, thin ribbon that is sandwiched between District 2 and the LAUSD boundary.  Unfortunately for the residents of this ribbon, this creative mapmaking can mean that they do not have a democratically elected representative for the schools that their children attend.

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Is My Confidentiality Agreement Confidential?

As of 2009, approximately 5.8 million students were receiving special education services in the United States. This population includes children with mental and physical challenges. They may be educated with their “typical” peers for a majority of the school day or segregated into specialized learning programs.

When children have special educational requirements, their education is governed by an Individualized Education Program (IEP). This is a document that outlines everything from the goals that are being set for the student to the exact services that will be provided by the school district. It also contains assessments about the child from the various educators and other specialists who work with the child, including the child’s progress in meeting the goals outlined in the previous IEP.

As advocates for their children, parents should have input into the contents of the IEP and indeed they do have an opportunity to meet with the school’s special education team after the document has been created. After this discussion, they can either sign off on the conclusion or request changes. Unfortunately, it has been my experience in raising two daughters with autism that unless these changes are minor or do not involve the allocation of resources, the school-level administrators will tell you that they are not empowered to alter the IEP.

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Blending a Family

This article was originally published in The Patch on April 28, 2013 


TheBackSideOfFamily.jpgThroughout the years, Disneyland has been the background for many happy memories and raising my family in Southern California has allowed us to claim our fair share. Donald fawning over my newborn daughter and then trying to get my Ex to stop yelling in excitement that he had talked. Cinderella declaring to my daughter on her sixth birthday that it was her two hand birthday as we entered the park. My son insisting on standing up to the height check sign to see if he had grown enough in the past couple of weeks to ride the rides his big sister could go on and he could not.

The Happiest Place on Earth took on more significance as the marriage started to fall apart. The kids and I took weekly pilgrimages to escape the turmoil at home and make new memories in our evolving family unit. We made friends with other visitors from an online community of fellow enthusiasts. The days where we would be blacked out from our annual passes were looked upon with dread. 

Once upon a time,

Somewhere online,

A man and a woman met,

And soon after they fell in love.

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