Parental Engagement

By Carl J. Petersen

Education issues as seen from a father's eyes.

A Charter With Its Hand in the Cookie Jar?

It was discussed how and why Granada is running in the red

- El Camino Real Charter High School Board Meeting Minutes, September 18, 2013

Under California law, Associated Student Body (ASB) organizations are “student organizations that are established to raise and spend money on behalf of students”. Under the law, these funds are “to be used to finance activities for noninstructional periods”. These include “goods and services that promote the students’ general welfare, morale and educational experiences”, but not for “those which the school entity should provide from its own funding sources.” These funds may also be loaned “to any student body organization established in another school of the district for a period not to exceed three years” or to “invest in permanent improvements to any school district property”. When investing in a district property, the ASB is entitled to receive any rental income from that property until their investment plus a reasonable amount of interest is paid back.

In response to a Public Records Act Request that requested “bank statements for accounts that hold any of the funds belonging to the Associated Student Body (ASB)” at Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS), I was provided with documentation that shows the school’s ASB held $781,672.60 at the beginning of 2012. This amount raised a red flag as these funds were held in a single account at the California Credit Union, which is insured by the National Credit Union Association. However, this insurance only covers “up to $250,000”. Therefore, $531,672.60 of the students’ money was left unprotected despite the fact that the California Education Code Section 48933 states that if these funds are deposited in a bank, it must be one “whose accounts are federally insured.”

Read more
Share

Education Should be Based on our Children's Needs

On May 11, 2016, the Office of the Independent Monitor held public hearings and “parents of children with IEPs [Individual Education Plan] and all other members of the LAUSD community [were] invited to provide comments to Dr. David Rostetter”. The following is a copy of my testimony before Dr. Rostetter’s office:

Two of my triplets are on the autism spectrum. One goes to Kennedy High School, which is an LAUSD school, and the other one goes to Tobinworld. The daughter I am going to speak about is the one who goes to Tobinworld, which is a non-public school that has a contract with the LAUSD and the LAUSD runs her IEP. Therefore, her IEP is with the LAUSD’s Special Education department.

On her last IEP, which is her three year IEP, goals for after she leaves school were discussed. The document indicated that she is going to live with us. We objected to that goal as we want our child to be as independent as possible. The response from person conducting the IEP was “well, we asked your student.” The staff of the school tried to correct him but he ignored what they said and doubled down. “That is what your daughter wants.” My daughter is nonverbal and has trouble expressing what she wants for dinner, never mind what her life goals are. This showed just how little this administrator knew or cared about my child.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

The PARCC Test: Exposed

Editor's Note: In reviewing correspondence between Granada Hills Charter High School and the California Charter School Association, I learned that there is an effort to bring the PARCC Test to charter school students within the state. The following is a blog that critiques this test but has, unfortunately, been subjected to censorship on other sites:

The author of this blog posting is a public school teacher who will remain anonymous.

I will not reveal my district or my role due to the intense legal ramifications for exercising my Constitutional First Amendment rights in a public forum. I was compelled to sign a security form that stated I would not be “Revealing or discussing passages or test items with anyone, including students and school staff, through verbal exchange, email, social media, or any other form of communication” as this would be considered a “Security Breach.” In response to this demand, I can only ask—whom are we protecting?

There are layers of not-so-subtle issues that need to be aired as a result of national and state testing policies that are dominating children’s lives in America. As any well prepared educator knows, curriculum planning and teaching requires knowing how you will assess your students and planning backwards from that knowledge. If teachers are unable to examine and discuss the summative assessment for their students, how can they plan their instruction? Yet, that very question assumes that this test is something worth planning for. The fact is that schools that try to plan their curriculum exclusively to prepare students for this test are ignoring the body of educational research that tells us how children learn, and how to create developmentally appropriate activities to engage students in the act of learning. This article will attempt to provide evidence for these claims as a snapshot of what is happening as a result of current policies.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

#?@$ Chi Minh

Screenshot_2016-04-24_at_10.12.49_AM.pngAs a child the first thing I did when presented with a new dictionary was check for the swear words. I already knew what they meant, but their presence validated the authenticity of the reference; if I could be trusted to know that these words existed, then surely the rest of the contents were worth exploring. Unfortunately, my daughter accidentally found this weekend that her school does not have that same trust in her.

While answering questions for her history assignment my daughter found that her text book did not provide her with the information that she needed for Ho Chi Minh and turned to the web for additional assistance. Using her school issued Chromebook she typed in the name of the former President of North Vietnam into Google. Unfortunately, instead of relevant information she was informed that the search results had been blocked.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Low Expectations and the Oversight of Charter Schools

“With respect to the reimbursement of any cap and gown fees charged previously, it is the expectation of the CSD that GHCHS will provide notice to all affected parents of students in the 2014-2015 graduating class regarding options for reimbursement or other remedy.”

- LAUSD Charter Schools Division

Month after month, the LAUSD School Board hears from a seemingly endless parade of charter organizations seeking authorization or re-authorization from the District. Even though each one of these approvals will drain students from the public schools run by the Board and reduce funding for the District’s students, most are placed on the consent calendar and voted on without discussion. With very few exceptions, they simply rubber stamp the recommendation of the Charter Schools Division (CSD). Unfortunately, my personal experience with the bureaucrats at the CSD has shown that they have little interest in making sure that charters are conforming to the California Education Code.

Read more
Share

Do Not Try to Placate Us with Words, We Need Action

 

On April 12, 2016, the LAUSD School Board considered a motion to recognize Autism Awareness Month. I used the opportunity for public comment to outline the ways that they can move beyond words to actually improve the educational opportunities for those with autism and other special education needs. The following is a transcript of my remarks:

 

Hi, my name is Carl Petersen and I’m here to speak on behalf of my two daughters who are on the autism spectrum and can’t speak for themselves. At last month’s meeting Ms. Garcia said:

When we say $1.4 billion for special ed and we only have $700 million from the federal government and the other $700 million are coming from every child in this district, 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
Add your reaction Share

Send Your Child to a Charter, Sign Away Your Parental Rights?

Our School “is permitted to meet with your child without your knowledge of prior consent.”

-James W. Salin, GHCHS Governing Board Chair

Like a page out of 1984, Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) includes stock language in responses to complaints asserting that “GHCHS values your input”, while the actual response shows the direct opposite. In the latest example they ignored my wife’s formal complaint about how our parental rights were violated when the school’s nursing staff tried to return my daughter to physical education earlier than the doctor had instructed and contrary to what she had specified in a note written to the school, with a response that provided a dissertation on the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and how the school complies with these regulations. A follow-up request for the school to investigate the actual terms of the complaint and correct errors within their findings of fact was met with a response that “my April 4, 2016, response addresses your complaints, so no amended response is being issued.”

Read more
Share

Trading Student Safety for Independence?

Fire_Extinguisher.jpg

At the Los Angeles Unified School District, our goals are...School safety

-LAUSD

As a father of two daughters who require special education services, I know from personal experience that the LAUSD has a less than stellar track record of working with parents to meet the needs of our students. A parent should not have to hire a lawyer to make sure that the District follows the recommendations of its own evaluation, but this is exactly what our family had to do. In order to settle this complaint, we also had to sign a confidentiality agreement so that we could not tell other parents about the services that we had been offered. I can empathize with anyone who is critical of the District’s lack of local control and their efforts to thwart accountability.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Monica Garcia's Attack on Special Education

 

When we say $1.4 billion for special ed and we only have $700 million from the federal government and the other $700 million are coming from every child in this district, I’m not about defunding special ed. I just know that we have a serious issue to how can we serve our own kids?

-Mónica García


Originally, this blog was supposed to be about the LAUSD’s misunderstanding of the diverse needs of students who require special education. I had watched a presentation on the Local Control Action Plan (LCAP) that was given during the February School Board meeting and learned that the District is measuring its success by counting the number of students that they can integrate into a mainstream environment. This type of goal ignores the needs of our most vulnerable students who are put at risk by being placed in these inclusive environments and has resulted in the threat of closure for the District’s Special Education Centers. After all, the law does not simply state that students must be placed in the “least restrictive environment”, it conditions this requirement on doing so to the “maximum extent that is appropriate.”

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Judge, Jury, Executioner: The Charter School Version of Accountability

“No further action is being taken at this time.”

-Brian Bauer, Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS)

It is the expectation of the CSD that GHCHS will provide notice to all affected parents of students in the 2014-2015 graduating class regarding options for reimbursement or other remedy.

-LAUSD Charter School Division

Reasonable efforts to fully reimburse all pupils, parents and guardians who paid a pupil fee include but are not limited to crediting the pupil's school financial account and sending reimbursement by first class mail to the pupil's last known primary address as contained in school or local educational agency records.”

-California Education Code

This is a battle that did not need to be fought. While Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) claims that its “policy is to comply with applicable federal and state laws and regulations”, the fees it charged for last year’s graduation ceremony violated the portion of the education code that states that “a pupil fee cannot be charged” for this ceremony because it is “an integral part of the educational process.” When confronted with their mistake, the school offered me a refund for some of these fees but refused to take corrective action on a school-wide basis. I elevated the complaint to “Executive Director”, Brian Bauer, who denied a violation had occurred but refused to answer any specific questions about his decision. Left with no other options, I filed a Uniform Complaint Procedure form with the school which should have initiated a formal, independent investigation. Instead, Bauer handled the investigation himself and found that there was no wrongdoing.

Read more
Share