Parental Engagement

By Carl J. Petersen

Education issues as seen from a father's eyes.

Los Angeles Charter Schools Allowed to Write Their Own Rules

First, the charter school industry bought the LAUSD School Board to ensure that charters weren't held accountable when they broke the rules. Now the charters are writing those rules!

Read the article on K-12 News Networks The Wire.

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Ankur Patel Will Defend Public Education in the California State Assembly

26814916_143367379668978_5921430996742689002_n.jpgI am endorsing Ankur Patel in the California Assembly District 45 special election to replace charter industry favorite Matt Dababneh.

Read the article on K-12 News Networks The Wire.

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My Daughter Sings the National Anthem

My daughter is on the autism spectrum and spends a portion of her day in a special day class. However, due to the efforts of the teachers at LAUSD's Kennedy High School, she has several opportunities for mainstreaming including ROTC and choir. In this video, she had the opportunity to sing the National Anthem with a general education peer prior to a basketball game. This is what mainstreaming should look like.

I wrote about this program in this article.

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Parents Left In The Dark About Charter Schools

I think it is important that parents know what is going on.”

- Scott Schmerelson, LAUSD Board Member


Under the current rules of the LAUSD, “a charter school [is] required to notify all parents, guardians and teachers in writing within 72 hours when the District issues a Notice of Violations...and that the notification include the District’s rationale for the action”. However, no such notification was made after a Notice of Violation was issued to Granada Hills Charter High School on March 3, 2017, detailing unapproved alterations to the District-owned campus that “were a risk to the health and safety of [the school’s] students, staff, and other individuals.”  The Charter School Division staff did request “that they share that information with families because it was significant”, but the school’s administration refused to do so. To date parents and guardians have not been notified of the dangers existing in their children’s school and no formal action has been taken against Granada for breaking this rule.

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How Have Charter Schools Affected Students with Special Education Needs?

On February 20, 2018, the LAUSD School Board put the proposed Holding GHCHS Accountable to Their Charter on the agenda of their Committee of the Whole meeting. The following is the written statement that I provided to the Board:

Honorable LAUSD Board Members:

Chanda_Smith.jpgThis is Chanda Smith. She was an LAUSD student with special education needs who fell through cracks in the system. In 1993, lawyers from the ACLU filed a class action suit under her name. The result of that suit is a consent decree that the District is still struggling to comply with 22 years after it was signed.

Around the same time that Ms. Smith’s lawyers were filing their paperwork, California began its experiment with charter schools. Since charters claimed that this would give parents more choice, the LAUSD embraced these new types of schools and became the largest charter authorizer in the country. Did those in charge consider the effect on students like Chanda Smith? Were these students given more choices or were they left behind?

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Granada Announces Expansion - But Who Gave Them Permission?

It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.

- Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

Granada Hills Charter High School has used its student-run newspaper to announce that its “Devonshire campus will open as a transitional kindergarten through eighth-grade school starting in the fall semester of 2019.” The article declared that “there is excitement from the community for this new change” but did not provide quotes from anyone in the community. In fact, Granada’s Executive Director, Brian Bauer, was the only person quoted by the author, which gave the article the feel of a press release carefully constructed by the school’s administration. While pushing Bauer’s agenda, it did nothing to address the many consequences for the surrounding community and the student body of Granada.

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Charters: Public Schools or Private Businesses?

It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this act to do both of the following:
(a) Ensure that charter school governance is transparent.
(b) Ensure that monitoring and oversight of charter schools are conducted to protect the public interest.

-California AB 1478

CCSA.jpgAs recipients of public funding, one would expect that organizations running charter schools would be subjected to the same open government regulations that other government entities, including elected school boards, must follow. While it is not always convenient to conform to the Brown Act, the California Public Records Act (PRA), or the Political Reform Act of 1974, these provisions of California law help ensure transparency to the taxpayers.  Unfortunately, under the state Education Code, the charter industry is currently exempt from following these requirements, leaving parents of students in these schools blind to their operations.

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Tone Deaf: Granada Misses the Point in Promoting its iGranada Program

choice

noun  \ ˈchȯis \

2 : power of choosing

- Merriam-Webster

iGranada-Picture-768x576.jpgMore than 19 months have passed since the LAUSD issued a Notice To Cure to Granada Hills Charter High School, demanding that they abide by their charter and give “first preference for enrollment...to students residing in the former attendance area.” As lawyers wallow through the “formal ‘dispute resolution’ procedure,” students are forced to attend classes supervised by uncredentialed advisors in buildings that need to “be razed given [their] age and condition.” In at least one case, their actions violated the education code which mandates that “students with special needs who wish to participate in independent study to have an individualized education program (IEP) that provides for independent study.”

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LAUSD Board Set to Consider "Holding GHCHS Accountable to Their Charter" Resolution

It’s hard to light a candle, easy to curse the dark instead

- Nightwish

GHCHS_1.23.18.jpgIn order to prevent charter schools from discouraging parents from enrolling children with special education needs, the Office of the Independent Monitor required that the District prohibit them from asking for any special education paperwork prior to enrollment. As originally pointed out in a Uniform Complaint filed on December 21, 2016, Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) has blatantly violated this prohibition for years without any intervention from the LAUSD Charter School Division, the LAUSD School Board, or the State Department of Education. In fact, as the school enrolls students for the next school year, it still requests prohibited documents on three different pages in the enrollment section of its website.

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Whack-A-Mole: The Los Angeles Approach to Charter Regulation

Our oversight is “proactive and responsive.”

- José Cole-Gutiérrez, LAUSD Charter School Division

Last June, I informed the LAUSD School Board that a charter school under their jurisdiction was violating the privacy of their students by publishing “Parent Volunteer Hours” reports on their website that included student names. The charter’s Chief Development Officer defended the practice by saying that even though the list included the names of students and not volunteers, it was “a way to recognize and congratulate those who are involved.” No mention was made of the obvious violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

404.jpg

Clicking the link that used to provide access to the “Parent Volunteer Hours” reports now returns a “404 Page Not Found” error. It is reassuring that going forward the privacy of these students is no longer being violated. However, quietly removing this information from the website does not change the fact that the students’ privacy was already violated. It also leaves questions unanswered, including:

  • The LAUSD Charter School Division (CSD) has stated in the past that “We look at their websites, not only at that time but in their oversight.” Did they miss this violation or purposely overlook it?
  • Why did the administration of the school not realize that their actions were a violation of federal law?
  • Were parents notified that their children’s privacy had been violated?
  • What steps have been taken to ensure that other charter schools are not engaging in the same practice?
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