Trading Student Safety for Independence?

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At the Los Angeles Unified School District, our goals are...School safety

-LAUSD

As a father of two daughters who require special education services, I know from personal experience that the LAUSD has a less than stellar track record of working with parents to meet the needs of our students. A parent should not have to hire a lawyer to make sure that the District follows the recommendations of its own evaluation, but this is exactly what our family had to do. In order to settle this complaint, we also had to sign a confidentiality agreement so that we could not tell other parents about the services that we had been offered. I can empathize with anyone who is critical of the District’s lack of local control and their efforts to thwart accountability.

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Trump the Alpha Male?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

-First Amendment - United States Constitution

In the era of false equivalency it should not be surprising that television's talking heads have tried to place equal blame on victims of Trump inspired violence. It is no surprise that Fox’s Greta Van Susteren stated without any proof that the rally in Chicago was cancelled because “a few protesters who looked like a few anti-Trump supporters, went up there and caused problems.” However, it is bewildering that when Trump states on MSNBC that “some of these protestors are dangerous people...extremely dangerous, extremely physical” and host Chris Matthews does not even ask for an example of this violence. Certainly the example Trump gave of a protester “jumping up and down for 15 minutes” did not rise to the level of “violence or potential violence.”

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Monica Garcia's Attack on Special Education

 

When we say $1.4 billion for special ed and we only have $700 million from the federal government and the other $700 million are coming from every child in this district, I’m not about defunding special ed. I just know that we have a serious issue to how can we serve our own kids?

-Mónica García


Originally, this blog was supposed to be about the LAUSD’s misunderstanding of the diverse needs of students who require special education. I had watched a presentation on the Local Control Action Plan (LCAP) that was given during the February School Board meeting and learned that the District is measuring its success by counting the number of students that they can integrate into a mainstream environment. This type of goal ignores the needs of our most vulnerable students who are put at risk by being placed in these inclusive environments and has resulted in the threat of closure for the District’s Special Education Centers. After all, the law does not simply state that students must be placed in the “least restrictive environment”, it conditions this requirement on doing so to the “maximum extent that is appropriate.”

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Judge, Jury, Executioner: The Charter School Version of Accountability

“No further action is being taken at this time.”

-Brian Bauer, Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS)

It is the expectation of the CSD that GHCHS will provide notice to all affected parents of students in the 2014-2015 graduating class regarding options for reimbursement or other remedy.

-LAUSD Charter School Division

Reasonable efforts to fully reimburse all pupils, parents and guardians who paid a pupil fee include but are not limited to crediting the pupil's school financial account and sending reimbursement by first class mail to the pupil's last known primary address as contained in school or local educational agency records.”

-California Education Code

This is a battle that did not need to be fought. While Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) claims that its “policy is to comply with applicable federal and state laws and regulations”, the fees it charged for last year’s graduation ceremony violated the portion of the education code that states that “a pupil fee cannot be charged” for this ceremony because it is “an integral part of the educational process.” When confronted with their mistake, the school offered me a refund for some of these fees but refused to take corrective action on a school-wide basis. I elevated the complaint to “Executive Director”, Brian Bauer, who denied a violation had occurred but refused to answer any specific questions about his decision. Left with no other options, I filed a Uniform Complaint Procedure form with the school which should have initiated a formal, independent investigation. Instead, Bauer handled the investigation himself and found that there was no wrongdoing.

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Planting a Flag in LAUSD's District 2

To the Parents of District 2:

When was the last time you felt that you had a voice in how the LAUSD is run? None of the seven Board members currently has a student enrolled in the District and cannot empathize with parents fighting to get the best education possible for their children. Those of us with children who require special education services fare even worse as the LAUSD has struggled for twenty years to prove that it no longer needs court oversight to ensure that it provides these students the support that they need. Meanwhile, warnings of an impending bankruptcy have increased as the charter industry, represented by Monica Garcia, diverts education funds from public schools to those that have no public accountability and promote the segregation of the most severe special education students and English language learners.

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Redacted

“Following up to our email exchange of last week, attached for your reference is a redacted UCP complaint. As you can see, most of the information has been redacted due to confidentiality issues.”

-LAUSD, Office of the General Counsel

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After declaring that they had “no further documents to provide”, the LAUSD finally emailed one of the three Uniform Complaint Process (UCP) forms that were filed against Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) during the period of January 1, 2014, through November 2, 2015. Unfortunately, any hope that this represented a decision by the District to be more transparent was quickly dashed when the document was opened. Apparently, they hired an ex-CIA operative to handle the censoring of the document since almost the complete document was marked “redacted.”

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A Parasite In Search of a Host

The ASNC Board moves to send a letter to the LAUSD in opposition to current plan for a Celerity Charter School to move into the Bushnell School.

-Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council


The charter industry likes to argue that they are providing choices for parents. Unfortunately, this choice is sometimes made at the barrel of a gun as a well-functioning public school can find itself under invasion by a charter that seeks to set up shop, uninvited, on its campus. The LAUSD tells parents that these co-location arrangements are required by Proposition 39. As is often the case with the District’s relationship with charter schools, this explanation does not tell the whole story.

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In teaching today there is NO WAY

There is no way that teachers are ever consulted. It is the book publishers way; the test publishers way; the out of the classroom, the know nothing downtown administrators way.

There is no way for the teacher to put personality into the lessons and instruction.

There is no way to plan the lesson to meet the needs of the entire class.

There is no way to hope for mastery, much less remediation or review.

One size fits all lessons means that there is no way that the needs of all students with various learning modalities with various learning domains are met.

If you had a public education before the test dominated curriculum became the imperative and you ask if your child is receiving the same well rounded, versatile education with some fun included that you had, the answer is NO WAY!

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Obstruction in the "Public Interest"?

At the present time, we have no further documents to provide you and you cannot request over and over that we search and search again and again.  You cannot continue to ask that we provide you with documents that are non-existent, confidential, exempt, or subject to the deliberative process.

-LAUSD, Office of the General Counsel

While students are expected to turn in their homework on time, the LAUSD bureaucracy does not operate under the same rules. Five weeks past the date they had originally promised, the District finally provided their response to my request for “any complaint filed with the LAUSD Charter Schools Division [CSD] about Granada Hills Charter High School along with” their response. To no one’s surprise, the bureaucrats had not used the extra time to make sure that they performed a thorough and complete search.

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It's In The Blood

NY.jpgBuddy you’re a young man hard man

Fighting’ in the street gonna take on the world some day

Blood on your face

You big disgrace

Kickin’ that banner all over the place

-Brian May

It was not easy being a young contrarian. I still remember clearly the day in the second grade when I broke the social rules and played with the girl who had “cooties” as it was my first experience with ostracization. If this was supposed to bring me into social compliance, it did not work. It was not long before punches were being thrown in my direction.

While fighting may get you in trouble in school, not returning a punch was not an option in my house. My dad had grown up on the rough streets of New York City and worked hard to move his family to the suburbs. The lessons that he had learned on those streets were important to him, especially the necessity of standing up for oneself. It was a value I saw him keep throughout his life. He also made sure to install it in his children.

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