LAUSD Law

The 14-year-old student “went to a motel in which she engaged in voluntary consensual sex with her teacher. Why shouldn’t she be responsible for that?

- W. Keith Wyatt, representing the LAUSD

The LAUSD’s Office of the General Counsel (GC) employs a legal staff whose mission is to “provide effective and proactive legal advice and quality representation while creating an ethical environment in support of a high quality learning environment for all students.” Unfortunately, this department does not seem to be adequately staffed as they also hire outside law firms to handle litigation against the District. These outside firms do not seem to be held to the same ethical standards as described in the GC’s mission statement.

W. Keith Wyatt had “represented the District for 27 years” when he “advanced the argument that an 8th grader who has oral, vaginal, and anal sex with a teacher learns maturity from the experience and is unlikely to ever need counseling as a result” and that “minors can consent to sex with adults” so the court should “impose responsibility on minor students for their own sexual abuse by teachers.” While the GC David Holmquist did not intervene during the course of the trial or the appeal, he could not ignore the outcry after the lawyer stated in a radio interview that “it was a more dangerous decision for a 14-year-old to cross a street in traffic than to have sex with her middle-school teacher.” In November 2014, Wyatt was “barred from any further legal work with the district” - at least until things quieted down.

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#BLACKLIVESMATTER

And let’s get a couple things straight, just a little sidenote – the burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander.That’s not our job, alright – stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest, if you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.”

- Jesse Williams

Complaints about policing in minority communities are not new, but changing technology has made it harder to ignore. When a bystander caught Rodney King’s beating on videotape, this violence was brought directly into our living rooms. Unfortunately, the video could not guarantee justice. The police involved were acquitted and the streets exploded.

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Drinking A Charter School's Kool-Aid

ECRCHS_Board_Meeting.JPG

“As key partners of our school community, I wanted you to be aware of a pending new story and offer an explanation of the situation.  A reporter for the Los Angeles Daily News has approached El Camino Real Charter High School (ECRCHS) on multiple occasions. His focus: a request made by LAUSD last October to update our fiscal policies.”

- Dave Fehte, May 2016


El Camino Real Charter High School (ECRCHS) did not wait for the Daily News to release their first article about their investigation into the school to start employing a familiar defensive strategy. In a letter to parents at the beginning of May, Executive Director Dave Fehte stated that “because of the nature of the reporter’s questions, and his lack of interest in anything positive about the school, we believe this article is being crafted in a way that will put ECRCHS in a negative light”, as if the reporter has a responsibility to balance bad news with unrelated positive stories. I have encountered the same type of response in reaction to my investigations into Granada Hills Charter High School. Instead of countering the facts that I presented, I was attacked for having “an underlying agenda against” the school by a person who did “not appreciate [my] consistent negative spin.” Another suggested that I “criticize [when] criticism is due, but an occasional accolade might also be in order.” Left unexplained is why I was supposed to act as the school’s public relations agent.

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Putting Lipstick on the Prop 39 Pig

This article originally appeared on K12 News Network's The Wire.

On June 21, 2016, the LAUSD School Board debated a resolution co-sponsored by Ref Rodriguez and Monica Garcia that would establish an “impartial group of District and charter school leaders” to make recommendations on improving “the process around successful co-locations”. Under the Improving the Policies and Practices Impacting Co-Located Public Schools resolution, the Superintendent would be required to consider these recommendations “for implementation in the Fall of 2016”. The following is a copy of my comments to the Board before they began debate:


I’ve never heard a parent say “gee, I really hope that a charter co-locates at our campus next year.” Usually when a parent finds out that there is going to be a charter looking at that campus, they look at it like a parasite is looking to move into a host. They are concerned that it is going to divide their school community. They are concerned about overcrowding. They are concerned that it is just going to ruin the feel of a neighborhood school. Yet this resolution says: “Proposition 39 presents an opportunity for charter schools and traditional District schools to collaborate by sharing resources that benefit all public school students.

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Spiking the Pension?

Pension spiking, sometimes referred to as "salary spiking", is the process whereby public sector employees grant themselves large raises or otherwise artificially inflate their compensation in the years immediately preceding retirement in order to receive larger pensions than they otherwise would be entitled to receive. This inflates the pension payments to the retirees and, upon retirement of the "spikee", transfers the burden of making payments from the employee's employer to a public pension fund. This practice is considered a significant contributor to the high cost of public sector pensions.

- Wikipedia

In March 2015, then LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines met with parents and educators to discuss their concerns about LAUSD’s special education programs. During this meeting, Cortines announced that the District’s head of Special Education, Sharyn Howell would be retiring. After the room erupted into applause, Cortines admonished the attendees for what he considered their rudeness. It seemed strange to me at the time that he was surprised by this expression of joy as it had already been made clear how the District’s leadership had lost the confidence of this group. Howell had steam-rolled over their concerns to implement changes, including moving towards the closure of special education centers, which those in the room felt harmed the most vulnerable students in the District.

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Monica Garcia Votes to Continue Court Fight with Parents of Children with Special Needs

Last month, the 9th Circuit overruled a lower court and stated that parents did have the right to intervene on behalf of their children as they fight to keep special education centers as a choice available to them during the IEP process. While the LAUSD’s lawyers had reportedly already filed the paperwork, the Governing Board of the District was not set to vote on the action until yesterday’s meeting. As with any discussion involving litigation, the state’s open meeting laws allow the Board to meet behind closed doors before voting on this issue, but not before hearing public comment. At the 8:00 AM meeting, parents and other supporters of special education centers filled up the seven allotted speaking spots. I, along with other  speakers, spilled over into the public comment portion of the meeting. The following is a transcript of my remarks:


My name is Carl Petersen and I am the father of two daughters who are on the autism spectrum. I am here to speak on behalf of the special education centers.

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The LAUSD Empire Strikes Back

The district court further erred when it found intervention unnecessary to protect appellant's’ interest in ensuring the receipt of public education consistent with their disabilities and federal law.”

- Judge Carlos T. Bea

The LAUSD claims that “special education centers are unnecessary because the District can ‘provide all supports and services...at a general education site”, but there are parents of severely disabled students who disagree with this assessment, especially when “their children began coming home after school with bruises and other injuries” after their children were transferred away from special education centers. The mainstream environment also failed a student who is on the autism spectrum and was “found ‘walking alone a mile from the school’ due to understaffing in [his] classroom and the lack of special safety features at [his] new general education campus”. The Independent Monitor who oversees the District’s compliance with the 20 year old special education consent decree found that general education campuses had “areas designated for ‘[diaper changing, feeding and health care protocols’ [that] ‘were located inside classrooms that lacked running water and drainage’; [that] special education classrooms were placed ‘over 350 feet’ from bathrooms scheduled to be renovated to accommodate disabled children [and] the placement of bus drop-offs and lunch areas required blind children ‘to navigate slopes, uneven steps, tripping hazards and protruding objects’ to get to class”. Still, the District continues to fight parents in court so that they can forcibly transfer moderately to severely disabled students away from specially designed school environments and instead mainstream them in general education facilities.

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Education: It's time for a revolution

You say you want a revolution

Well, you know

We all want to change the world”

 

We can’t save the world,

But we can save the children for the world!

 

It’s time for a revolution in education.

It’s time for education to be for the students.

 

It’s time for education to be about learning,

Learning for their future, learning for the following school years.

 

It’s time for the testing oriented system to disappear,

It’s time for a return to an era when children learned and teachers taught without the pressure of test scores.

 

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Teaching in LAUSD: All The Fun Is Gone

Think of your fondest memories from elementary school.  

Was it making a 3 dimensional map with mountains, or a school Olympics, or putting on a play, or sewing a frontier outfit, or classroom discussions, or many other things? Maybe it was May Day dances or working with tools.

They are gone. There are no replacements. 

All academics all the time or very close to it.

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A Charter With Its Hand in the Cookie Jar?

It was discussed how and why Granada is running in the red

- El Camino Real Charter High School Board Meeting Minutes, September 18, 2013

Under California law, Associated Student Body (ASB) organizations are “student organizations that are established to raise and spend money on behalf of students”. Under the law, these funds are “to be used to finance activities for noninstructional periods”. These include “goods and services that promote the students’ general welfare, morale and educational experiences”, but not for “those which the school entity should provide from its own funding sources.” These funds may also be loaned “to any student body organization established in another school of the district for a period not to exceed three years” or to “invest in permanent improvements to any school district property”. When investing in a district property, the ASB is entitled to receive any rental income from that property until their investment plus a reasonable amount of interest is paid back.

In response to a Public Records Act Request that requested “bank statements for accounts that hold any of the funds belonging to the Associated Student Body (ASB)” at Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS), I was provided with documentation that shows the school’s ASB held $781,672.60 at the beginning of 2012. This amount raised a red flag as these funds were held in a single account at the California Credit Union, which is insured by the National Credit Union Association. However, this insurance only covers “up to $250,000”. Therefore, $531,672.60 of the students’ money was left unprotected despite the fact that the California Education Code Section 48933 states that if these funds are deposited in a bank, it must be one “whose accounts are federally insured.”

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