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.”
“Opportunity.” Kind of reminds me of a lyric from a song in my youth: “You say it’s raining, but you’re pissin’ down my back.”
Then to add insult to injury, it calls for an “impartial group of District and charter school leaders” to formulate suggestions for the Superintendent to implement. “Impartial”, so anybody who is against these co-locations won’t have a say in what is happening. That doesn’t seem right.
Then it pushes for “multi-year occupancies” by these charter schools. So now a parent who is concerned about what is going to happen and finds that their fears come true are going to get stuck with a multi-year occupancy. That doesn’t sound like parental engagement to me.
I realize that the California Charter School Association spends a lot of money to put people on this Board, but this Board is supposed to represent the students of the LAUSD. Therefore, I think that you should reject this resolution and present one that protects the students of the LAUSD.
It should provide for a group that offers alternatives to co-locations, including looking at changing the law.
It also should also encourage the Charter School Division to be more proactive in how they oversee these schools. Right now we have El Camino where their Principal took off with $125,000 in expenses on the school’s credit card, including buying airline tickets for his moonlighting job. We have Granada Hills Charter High School who borrowed $600,000 from their Associated Student Body account without any authorization. Whatever happened to that PUC investigation?
The Board needs to start protecting this District and look at these charter schools like the adversaries that they are. Eli Broad is looking to pour more resources into making more charter schools, which threatens the District with bankruptcy. We need to stop rubber-stamping every charter school that comes along and demand real accountability.
After debating the subject, the Board voted 5-2-0 to approve the resolution. George McKenna and Scott Schmerelson provided the “no” votes.