Parental Engagement

By Carl J. Petersen

Education issues as seen from a father's eyes.

Aiding and Abetting the Killing of an Open Government

Californians are supposed to be governed by an open government. LAUSD General Counsel David Holmquist ensures that this does not happen.

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

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California Senate Candidate Alison Hartson on Education

29740031_422423028183453_4259590556620947456_n.jpgWhile Dianne Feinstein has been “watching” education for 40 years, Alison Hartson, one of her challengers in the California Senate race, has classroom experience ensuring that students graduate.

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

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Was the Public Deceived in the LAUSD Superintendent Search?

LAUSD Board member Scott Schmerelson provides information about how someone with no experience in education was picked to lead the country's second-largest school district in his appearance before the Northridge East Neighborhood Council.

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

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Complaint Alleges LAUSD Board Violated the Brown Act

Los Angeles County’s largest Democratic club presents evidence of wrongdoing to District Attorney’s Public Integrity Division.

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

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Looking at the California Governor's Race From an Education Perspective

Budgets are statements of values, and it is inexcusable to me that California is number one in per prisoner spending, and number 41 in per-pupil spending

- Candidate Delaine Eastin

It has been almost four years since John Deasy was forced to resign from the LAUSD after a failed $1.3 billion iPad program and spearheading the “disastrous” MiSiS computer system, which cost the district over $189 million. The LAUSD had promoted him to the role of Superintendent “without so much as a job interview” and ignored his “shady history of allegedly lying about his credentials and snatching up money wherever he [could] find it”. Among the remnants of his tenure is the District’s fractured relationship with its teachers whom he constantly bullied as he led the country’s second-largest school district.

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Austin Beutner Hired As LAUSD's New Superintendent Without Public Input

I am especially addressing those who have been expressing their frustration with the lack of transparency during the last ten days, when every member of the Board knew that decision had already been made while pretending to be maintaining an open mind toward all the candidates who were deemed finalists.

- LAUSD Board Member, Scott Schmerelson

IMG_2561.JPGOn Tuesday, May 1st, I joined five former LAUSD Board members, teachers and other members of the public in urging the District not to hire Austin Beutner as the District’s new Superintendent. What none of the speakers knew was that on April 20, the Board had voted 4 - 3 to “to authorize negotiations for an employment contract with Mr. Austin Beutner as the General Superintendent of the District” but had not divulged the results to the public. This not only violated the rules of open governance but the public trust.

The District had bypassed public input for their decision with the excuse that the results of the input from the last search were only two years old and still valid. However, that search found that stakeholders “wanted an educator to be the leader of LAUSD.” As summarized by former Board member Monica Ratliff, “they wanted a teacher, a principal. They wanted someone who knew L.A.” Instead, the Board went behind closed doors and selected someone who had “no background leading a school or school district” to lead the country’s second-largest school district. Also, according to California Education Code Section 35029 Beutner had to be provided with a waiver because he does not hold “an administrative or teaching credential”.

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The Charter Industry Proves Again That They Are Not Public Schools

Money comes based upon some hypothetical projection of how many special needs kids you might have in the school...if they give you more than you need, you don’t have to give the money back.

- LAUSD Board Member Dr. George McKenna

As the LAUSD School Board continues to ignore the fact that Granada Hills Charter High School is actively discouraging the enrollment of children with special education needs, District staff has taken note of the effect of these actions on surrounding neighborhood schools. In the “Single Plan for Student Achievement” for Northridge Academy Senior High, the school notes that “a larger percentage of the students from the Granada Hills Charter High School area are students with special needs and have active IEP’s as compared to the students coming from the other high schools.” Even worse, Kennedy is not the most heavily impacted school as 19.9% of the students at Valley Academy of Arts and Science have special education needs. With a student population that is less than half of Granada’s, John F. Kennedy High School has more students with special education needs than its larger neighbor.

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Los Angeles Charter Schools Allowed to Write Their Own Rules

The statute as I understand it...gives the District...the responsibility and authority of oversight

- LAUSD Board Member George McKenna

Under District rules, every charter that is submitted to the LAUSD for approval must contain District Required Language (DRL). Some of this language simply ensures that the charter conforms to the California Education Code. Other sections cover requirements specific to the LAUSD, like conforming to the Chanda Smith Modified Consent Decree. The most disputed sections require protections that have been successfully blocked in Sacramento by the California Charter School Association (CCSA). An example would be the requirement that the “charter school shall comply with the Brown Act and the Public Records Act.” Charter schools have also been critical of the language that gives the Office of the Inspector General “broad authority — including subpoena power — to sniff out ‘waste, fraud and abuse’".

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Ankur Patel Will Defend Public Education in the California State Assembly

“I commit to working to increase the amount of funding that goes to public education and specifically to students at their school site.”

- Ankur Patel

When choosing which politicians to back, the California Charter School Association (CCSA) seems to care more about how they will help them to avoid regulation than the candidates’ ethical values. In the LAUSD, they helped Ref Rodriguez defeat Bennett Kaiser only to have Rodriguez step down from the Board’s presidency after being indicted on felony charges that included perjury. During the  2016 election cycle, the CCSA spent $30,282 to re-elect Matt Dababneh to the California State Assembly after he sponsored a bill that would have limited the ability of school districts to conduct independent investigations of charter schools. In December 2017, Dababneh was forced to resign from office “after three women accused him of sexual misconduct, including a lobbyist who said he followed her into a restroom and masturbated in front of her.

26814916_143367379668978_5921430996742689002_n.jpgOn April 3, voters in Assembly District 45 will go to the polls to replace the disgraced Assemblyman. As an advocate for public education, I am endorsing Ankur Patel in this race. A win by the former School and Community Coordinator for LAUSD Board Member Scott Schmerelson would send a clear message to the CCSA that their days of purchasing politicians are over. Going forward, their schools will be held accountable for the public funds that they receive.

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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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