Education issues as seen from a father's eyes.
By Carl J. Petersen
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.”Read more
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.Read more
“The October staff recommendations represent a fundamental and drastic departure from the Charter School Division’s expressed values of consistency and transparency, and the District’s historic focus on student outcomes as an authorizer.”
-California Charter Schools Association (CCSA)
Both El Camino Real Charter High School (ECRCHS) and Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) were originally LAUSD public schools. While charters are marketed as a way to offer alternatives to poorly performing schools, both of these schools had excellent reputations before their conversions. El Camino has won seven Academic Decathlon National Championships, both as a charter and a public school. GHCHS “had one of the best academic records in the district [prior to its conversion], but it was bothered by cuts in district funding and hampered by rules that limited its own fund-raising abilities.” Like LAUSD schools, the teachers at both schools continue to be represented by UTLA. It should be no surprise that both of them continue to meet their academic benchmarks.Read more
-Magnolia CEO Caprice Young
“The sky is falling.”
As usual, the LAUSD Board spent a significant portion of their time at Tuesday’s meeting ignoring the needs of students enrolled in District schools so they could focus on charter issues. At this meeting, held at a time set aside to ensure maximum convenience for the charters, one new charter “was approved, another was allowed to expand and three others were renewed.” However, most of the focus has been on Magnolia and Celerity for the rejection of their renewal petitions and El Camino Real Charter High School (ECRCHS) for narrowly avoiding advancement in the charter revocation process.Read more
- Mexican Proverb as quoted by Antonio Villaraigosa
As headlined in the L.A. School Report, “L.A. Unified school board member Monica Garcia dominates fundraising in re-election bid”. She has raised “nearly 150 times more money than her opponent”, giving her plenty of room to maneuver and make sure that her donations are as clean as possible. However, a review of her $119,858.40 haul suggests that not much of a review was performed. After all, the bar must have been pretty low to accept these donations:Read more
“Since we are on a timeline and it seems that the other issues that would prevent a renewal just don’t exist here, that everything else is very, positive...we are on a timeline and I think that we should vote the renewal up or down.”
- Steve Zimmer, LAUSD Board President
It is yet to be revealed just how long the “financial shenanigans” were going on at El Camino Charter High School (ECRCHS), but the records do show that a Notice to Cure (NTC) was issued to the charter’s Governing Board on October 28, 2015, that included the allegation that “there were charges on the credit card statement where it was indicated as ‘personal use’ which is inappropriate and does not align to the purpose for use of the public credit card.” In ECRCHS’ response dated November 3, 2015, they “request a December 17th deadline” to take corrective actions because of “the number of requests contained in the NTC”. However, just one week later, on a motion presented by Monica Garcia and seconded by Ref Rodriguez, the LAUSD Board ignored the existence of the uncorrected financial issues outlined in the NTC and unanimously voted to extend the charter by another five years.Read more
"The public interest in withholding those records clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure."
-Law Offices of Young, Minney & Corr, LLP
On behalf of El Camino Real Charter High School
Dear LAUSD Board Members:
I have previously shared with the Charter School Division (CSD) the responses that I have received from El Camino Real Charter School's (ECRCHS) law firm after attempting to gain access to the $20,000 report that the Governing Board commissioned from Oracle Investigations Group under the California Public Records Act (PRA). Unfortunately, I have not heard back from the CSD or received the report or a copy of the contract under which it was prepared. However, in reviewing the Response to Notice of Violation that was prepared on behalf of ECRCHS states on page two that "included among ECRA Board actions taken are...contracting with an independent investigator to investigate concerns raised by the LAUSD Charter Schools Division in a Notice to Cure in October of 2015". This is contradictory to responses that I received from the same law firm claiming that "as legal counsel for ECR our firm retained the services of Oracle Investigations Group, Inc." and "there are no documents responsive to your request in the possession of ECR" in response to my request for a copy of "the contract with Oracle Investigations Group that was approved by the Governing Board on June 22, 2016."Read more
“In response to this very unexpected action, the district has assembled a team to provide support to students and families as they transition during this difficult time, just one month after the start of the district’s traditional school year”.
The charter industry has a propensity for manipulating data to meet their propaganda needs. For example, a recent press release stated that “more than 2,000 families [had] marched in support of charter schools”. However, the first sentence of the release told a completely different story. Instead of families showing support of these private schools operating with public funds, “more than 2,000 charter school teachers, students, families, supporters, and local representatives joined together” had participated in the march. Unless families had been prevented from sending more than one representative to the march, the headline was clearly misleading.Read more
-LAUSD Office of the General Counsel
It has been almost two years since David Binkle was removed from his position as LAUSD’s Food Services Director. A draft audit by the Inspector General found that the food services department was “at a minimum being mismanaged and at worst being consistently abused.” While this draft was “expected to be completed by early summer” 2015, the District still maintains that the investigation is “on-going”.
It has been more than a year since Binkle grew weary of his stay in Food Services Director Jail and retired from the District. However, the facts of the case are still relevant. While the report accused him “of failing to report payments from vendors to attend school food conferences”, Binkle has stated that his “actions were approved and encouraged from senior district officials, general counsel or the ethics office”. These senior officials include John Deasy and Michelle King, who was later promoted to be the District’s Superintendent. If Binkle is, in fact, a fall guy and his actions were approved and encouraged by Deasy and King, why is it that he alone has paid the price?Read more
“Charter families have lined up at dawn in biting cold winds holding babies. They’ve sweated it out for hours standing around ice chests or taking turns under canopies. They’ve waited hours—sometimes nearly a full a day—to get into an LA Unified school board meeting. Then, they wait hours more just to be heard.”
-LA School Report
Despite the stated goal of the LAUSD to have “parent and community engagement”, it is clear that the public is the furthest thing from the Board’s mind when they schedule their meetings. Most are held during the day when working parents, teachers and students cannot participate. The Board Room only holds 155 people, often leaving many people waiting outside or attempting to hear the proceedings in Beaudry's employee cafeteria amidst the din of food service. The marathon meetings often last past 8:00 PM, leaving parents with cranky, hungry children as they wait for their turn to speak.Read more