Parental Engagement

By Carl J. Petersen

Education issues as seen from a father's eyes.

For Once, The Local Media Uncovers The LAUSD Wizard

It is clear to all present that which you have pointed out. I would sarcastically compare you to Sherlock Holmes, were I the type, but suffice it to say, sir, that you are a dullard.

-Matt E.

In reporting on Racy Film Sets, KNBC found that the LAUSD is a “school system lacking oversight,” that obtaining information from the District requires “fighting for access to public records” and exceptions will be made to a policy prohibiting the disruption of “any school instructional program...in exchange for additional donations.” For readers of the Parental Engagement blog, these stories are not new. My campaign for LAUSD School Board was based on bringing accountability to the District. The Office of the General Counsel has blocked or stonewalled my attempts to gather information about the forced departure of David Binkle and Disruptive Parent Letters. Blogs about the California Charter Schools Association and Eli Broad have shown how they have been able to spread their resources, either through campaign spending or in restricted donations to the District, to take control of the LAUSD. KNBC: welcome to the party. Where have you been?

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Attempting to Obtain Information Through a Looking-Glass

Everything you know is wrong

Black is white, up is down and short is long

-Weird Al Yankovic

When I was a student, 44 was definitely larger than ten; I am sure of it. I did not fail math until I reached Calculus Three in college and in all the classes before that, 44 was the larger number. However, according to the LAUSD, this is not longer the case.

The LAUSD’s Office of the General Counsel (OGC) freely admits that they “had ten days from receipt of [my] email to determine whether [my] request, in whole or in part, asked for disclosable public records.” According to my calculations, their e-mail on September 21, notifying me that “the records you have requested are exempt from disclosure” was provided 44 days after my initial request. Still, they maintain that “there was no delay in responding to [my] request.” Common Core has sure made math confusing! Perhaps I need to show my work in order for the law to be followed.

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“Golden” Granada Hills Charter High School: Scofflaws When It Comes to California Ed Code?

Per GHCHS Board Policy, all students must participate fully in California CAASPP and Granada Testing in their 9th, 10th and 11th grade year to be eligible to participate in optional activities such as senior activities, school extracurricular activities and school athletics (GHCHS Parent-Student Handbook).

-Granada Hills Charter High School


If you had your car stolen and then saw it being driven on the streets, your first call would probably be to the local police department. It would not be unreasonable for you to expect that these trained professionals would take care of the situation by confronting the driver and taking appropriate action. But what would you think if they instead told you that it was your responsibility to find out why the person was driving your car? This is essentially what the LAUSD’s Charter Schools Division (CSD) does in handling complaints.

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Eli Broad's LAUSD?

While working for two years as an accountant, Eli Broad saw his homebuilding clients making much more that he was, and he and Edythe’s cousin’s husband decided they, too, could build houses.”

-Broad Foundation

There are some who like to quietly give to charities, being careful not to draw too much attention to themselves. Eli Broad is not this type of person. In a dispute with MOCA, an organization where he had been named “Founding Chairman,” he told the trustees that he wanted his “name on the building...in big letters, which were to go on the front of the building.” He had to settle having the lobby named after him, at least until he built his very own museum. However, when he gives money, he does not just want public recognition; he wants control. Broad and his wife, Edythe, are self-described venture philanthropists who focus “their charitable giving in a new style of investing that was more akin to their business acumen.

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Character Assassination in the First Degree

 

“Pursuant to Gov. Code §6254(f), the records you have requested are exempt from disclosure.”

-LAUSD, Office of the General Counsel (OGC)

The LAUSD Inspector General’s (IG) office seemed confident in their audit of the Food Services division when they stated in their draft report “that the program is currently at a minimum being mismanaged and at worst being consistently abused.” The fact that this was a “confidential personnel matter” did not stop the District from releasing this report to the press, which then said that the Food Services Director David Binkle had been suspended with pay. Actually, like those in “Teacher Jail” Binkle was actually “re-assigned,” literally under house arrest. During work hours he was forbidden by the District to leave his house as he waited for inspectors. He reports that those inspectors never showed up to hear his side of the story. It was unclear why these investigators had not concluded their investigation before writing a report and publically dragging an honored employee’s name through the mud. In February, the IG said they expedited the audit “to be completed by early summer.” With this deadline long past, the District said on Thursday that it is still “ongoing.”

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A Chartered Data Breach

“At Granada Hills Charter High School, we are always looking to give our parents tools to advance their children’s education. That is why we are proud to partner with the California Charter Schools Association. CCSA is here to educate, engage, and empower parents of charter school students to stay informed on issues that affect their school and all charter schools in California. To help get that relationship started, we will be sharing our school directory with CCSA, so you can hear directly from them.”

-Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS)

The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) likes to argue that “charters [sic] schools are public schools." While it is true that these schools do receive public tax dollars, there is little else that qualifies them as a public entity. By their own accord they are “free from most rules and regulations governing conventional public schools,” even when that “red tape” was designed to protect students. While their website promises that “if a charter school cannot perform up to the established standards, it will be closed,” the LAUSD, Los Angeles County Office of Education and the office of California State Superintendent of Public Instruction have all displayed an unwillingness to hold these schools accountable to the laws governing public schools. Worst of all, charters have not proven to be any more successful at providing children with the education that they need. Despite their ability to cherry pick the easiest to educate students, recently released test scores showed that independent charters within the LAUSD were “below the state average” and “almost even with [the District’s] traditional [schools] and affiliated charters.”

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Ignoring a Problem Does Not Make It Go Away

“As required under California Government Code section 6253, the District will make a determination within 10 days as to whether or not a request is seeking records that are publicly disclosable and, if so, to provide the estimated date that the records will be made available."

-LAUSD, August 4, 2015

While running for a seat on the School Board I had the opportunity to give voice to the victims of bullying by the LAUSD. I listened to the stories of those in Teacher’s Jail and repeatedly heard about the abuses of power within the District. Every time I wrote an article a voice in the back of my head reminded me that this could be the time that a teacher was actually at fault, but that never happened. In retrospect, that makes sense; clear cut cases of wrongdoing do not require an extended stay of paid leave while the district conducts an “investigation.”

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Battle Scarred Schools

WhiteboardThe function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals."

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

It had been years since my sister and I had been back to the neighborhood where we grew up, but last month we had the chance. In New York for a family reunion, we took an afternoon to roam Rockland County for a trip back in time. We already knew that our childhood home had been bulldozed long ago as had the Nanuet Mall where we had spent many weekends as teenagers, so these would be visits to addresses rather than childhood shrines. However, the schools we attended are still standing, so these held the possibility of giving us physical connections to our youth. As we pulled up to Elmwood Elementary School, eagerness quickly turned to shock. My sister turned to my mother and asked, “How could you have sent us to such a shithole?”

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Shortchanging Summer

LA Kids Deserve Summertime - Start School After Labor Day and Fix LAUSD Calendar Now"

-Change.org petition

Last week, students were stuck in classrooms as county health officials declared a heat alert in parts of the district, including the San Fernando Valley. The District used to be on what one teacher called the “Oh my God, it’s hot in L.A. in August” calendar and started school after Labor Day, but not anymore. In an effort led by failed Board Member Tamar Galatzan, the calender was changed several years ago “as a way for high school students to complete the first semester before winter break.” Board President Steve Zimmer agreed saying that “instruction is best aligned when [students] do not have...that extended gap during the first semester.” What the District never answered is why the students even have that extended gap.

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The LAUSD Superintendent Search Continues Behind Closed Doors

Staff proposes that the Board of Education authorize staff to negotiate and enter into a professional service agreement or agreements to provide executive search services...for a maximum amount of $250,000."

-LAUSD

When I ran for the LAUSD District 3 seat in this year’s elections, one of the planks in my platform was to make Board meetings more accessible to the stakeholders. Since holding some of them on weekends was one suggestion that I put forward, it was very exciting when the District announced early this month its plans to hold a rare weekend meeting. However, any thought that this was done for the convenience of the parents was soon put to rest as the location of the meeting was not even announced until just a couple of days ago. To alleviate any doubt, the agenda released by the district indicated that the Board would adjourn into a closed session right after hearing public comments.

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