School's (Not) Out for Summer

Thanks to all the effective voices that made this possible for our youth!

- Mónica García, 12/14/16

During last week’s LAUSD meeting, the Board suddenly reversed course and abandoned a carefully compromised plan that would have slowly returned the beginning of the school year closer to its traditional Labor Day start. Without a warning to the parents who had been pushing for this change, they rejected the calendar that they told Superintendent Michelle King to craft last September and told her to start over again with the schedule that is already in place. After the vote, Board member García took to Twitter to thank “all the effective voices that made this possible for our youth!”, ignoring the fact that she had effectively silenced all other voices through her parliamentary maneuvers. Those who had celebrated their advocacy for change just a few months ago only found out about the reversal in the next morning’s news reports. Once again parents’ voices had not been heard during the deliberative process of the LAUSD Board.

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Charter Principal Gets Caught Engaging in Financial Shenanigans and is Punished with a $215K Payout

Ex-charter school chief gets $215K after resigning in wake of spending controversy

- Los Angeles Daily News, 11/30/16

The administration at El Camino Real Charter High School (ECRCHS) admits that David Fehte charged “more than $6,000” in personal charges on his school-issued credit card. An investigation by the Los Angeles Daily News found that “over the two years, Fehte charged more than $100,000 to the card”, including “$15,500 at Monty’s” Prime Steaks & Seafood and “first-class airfare and luxury hotel rooms”. The LAUSD Charter School Division found that the school had “no policy for Credit Card use” and issued a Notice to Cure on October 28, 2015. Almost a year later the “CSD still had ongoing concerns regarding the capacity and accountability of the Charter School, the charter organization, and its governing board, to operate ECRCHS effectively and in compliance with applicable laws and the terms of its charter”. The LAUSD Board scheduled a hearing to discuss Notice of Intent to Revoke ECRCHS’ charter.

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LAUSD's Parent Jail

Disruptive Person Letters (DPL) are issued by principals within the LAUSD when someone interferes with the ability “to maintain a safe campus free of disruption.” There is concern among parents that in addition to protecting against “behavior that poses a danger to staff or students”, these letters are also being used to retaliate against those who question a school’s implementation of policy. For this reason, they are better known as Disruptive Parent Letters. On November 22, 2016, the LAUSD’s Early Childhood and Parent Engagement Committee held a hearing on improving the DPL policy. The following is a copy of my testimony before this committee:


I have heard it stated a couple of times today that these “Disruptive Person Letters” are rare. Truthfully, we have no way of knowing that. I issued a Public Records Act request in August of 2015, and I asked for any email, memo or letter containing the language that is found in these letters. In response, I was told that the District does not capture “specific data on disruptive parent letters.” On September 28, 2015, I was told that “this information is not captured at this time.”

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Resolution: Ensuring That Disruptive Person (Parent) Letters Are Not Abused

Whereas, “Parent and community engagement” is a stated goal of the Los Angeles Unified School District;

Whereas, the receipt of a Disruptive Person (Parent) Letter provides a barrier to a parent or community member from being fully engaged with the District;

Whereas, as of September 22, 2015, the Office of the General Counsel stated that the District does not capture “specific data on disruptive parent letters”;

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Is Mónica García Using LAUSD Students as Stepping Stones?

If Mónica García has grown weary of the LAUSD, then why doesn’t she step aside for someone who is willing to serve the students?

Monica_Garcia_for_Congress.jpg

In the months leading up to the March 7, 2017, LAUSD election, incumbent Mónica García has made some questionable comments about the children that she is supposed to represent. For example, in March she suggested that students requiring special education services are not “our own kids”, excluding 12.7% of the LAUSD’s population. Then in September she said that “our biggest problem is that most of our kids, all of our kids, can’t read.” If this statement is true, then García has little to show for the ten years that she has spent on the Board. More likely, this represents her disdain for the teachers of the District and their ability to succeed despite the obstacles that she has put in their way.

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Why We Need a Parent on the LAUSD School Board

The LAUSD’s goal of “parent and community engagement” is stated in black and white on the District’s website. Unfortunately, the District’s actions often speak louder than those words. As an example, when the parents of children with severe special education needs lost the first round of a court case against the District, a press release stated that it was “a civil rights victory for our students”, as if these children needed to be protected from their parents. A higher court overruled this decision, but last June Mónica García and the rest of the LAUSD School Board voted to continue the court fight. Sitting across from each other in a courtroom does not count as “engagement.”

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The LAUSD's Hostility Towards Special Education

On November 16, 2016, the Office of the Independent Monitor held its semi-annual public hearings about the services provided by the LAUSD to students with special education needs. The following is a copy of my testimony before Dr. Rostetter:

 

 

When I saw your reaction to Adam’s speech, it gave me something that I haven’t had in a long time at these meetings and that is hope. It showed that you really care about what happens to our children. But Adam shouldn’t be the exception to the rule. Instead, the LAUSD shows hostility towards special education.

Mónica García said in a Board meeting just a few months ago that “I’m not about defunding special ed, I just know that we have a serious issue to how can we serve our own kids.”

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Resolution: Improving Special Education Within the LAUSD

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LAUSD softens ‘disruptive person’ letters, but parents are still angry

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Rejecting Education by Division

 

If we accept the notion that education is the great equalizer, then we must demand that all children have equal access to education. This does not mean that we should expect that every student will have the same results. However, we should expect as a society that all children are given the opportunity to reach their full potential. Unfortunately, all of my opponents do not share the view that every child is worthy of an education.

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