Parental Engagement

By Carl J. Petersen

Education issues as seen from a father's eyes.

A Charter School Cheats, LAUSD Sleeps

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Where was the LAUSD Charter School Division as the North Valley Military Institute charged students to attend summer school and broke labor law?

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

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What Message Does Ref Rodriguez Send to the Children of Los Angeles?

Ref_Arrest.pngLAUSD Board member was already charged with money laundering and perjury. Now video of his arrest for public drunkenness has been released.

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

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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

California is firmly blue. Not only did the state’s voters provide 8.75 million votes for Hillary Clinton, all statewide offices are held by Democrats along with majorities of both houses of the State Legislature and 39 of the state’s 53 seats. Both U.S. Senators are also Democrats, although this has not always translated into progressive votes.

In 2001, Dianne Feinstein voted against the majority of Democrats in approving the Bush tax cuts. The state’s senior Senator also voted “to grant President Bush the power to attack Iraq unilaterally.” She “opposed the 1996 ballot measure that legalized medical marijuana” and Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All bill. Feinstein has also expressed “strong support” for the California Charter School Association (CCSA) and their efforts to privatize education.

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Was the Public Deceived in the LAUSD Superintendent Search?

Is this for real?

- LAUSD Board Member Scott Schmerelson

When the East Area Progressive Democrats filed a complaint with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office regarding alleged violations of California’s Brown Act, LAUSD Board member Scott Schmerelson’s Public Statement was used as Exhibit A. In releasing this document, Schmerelson exposed that the Board had taken a vote in closed session on April 20, but had not reported this action to the public as required by law. This violation was further compounded by the fact that the Board’s Executive Officer had announced that there were “no actions to report”, “creating a deception that misled the public and confused any accurate understanding of the genuine status of decision-making by the Board.”

Schmerelson has now provided additional information about the LAUSD Board’s actions leading up to the appointment of Austin Beutner as the new Superintendent. In a presentation before the Northridge East Neighborhood Council last Wednesday, he confirmed that a vote was taken on April 20. Additionally, he divulged that “certain Board members had this planned months ago.” Originally, he was told that “Beutner [was] going to work for one dollar.” However, the other Board members ignored their fiduciary duty to the students of the LAUSD and taxpayers by voting for a contract that pays him $350,000 annually.

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Complaint Alleges LAUSD Board Violated the Brown Act

None of you should be making all these decisions in private and without the input of the public.”

- Former LAUSD Board Member, Jackie Goldberg

In 1953, the California legislature declared that “the people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know” and passed the Brown Act. As a result, the actions of all local agencies, including school boards, must “be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.” The public may be excluded from a meeting “to consider the appointment [or] employment...of a public employee”, but “the legislative body of any local agency shall publicly report any action taken in closed session and the vote or abstention on that action of every member present”.

When former LAUSD Board Member Jackie Goldberg spoke during the 9:00 AM meeting on May 1, there was  an audible gasp from the gallery when she mentioned that the Board had already selected a Superintendent and “that he starts on the 15th of May.” This directly contradicted the Board’s Executive Officer, Jefferson Crain, who had announced at the end of the April 20th closed session that there were “no actions to report due to today’s discussion” and they were “going to recess until May 1...at 11:00”. During the ten days between these two meetings, community members had been lobbying the entire Board to appointment Acting Superintendent Vivian Ekchian. If they had known the results of a vote had already been taken, they could have focused their energies on urging specific Board Members to change their vote before the contract was finalized.

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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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