Parental Engagement

By Carl J. Petersen

Education issues as seen from a father's eyes.

Steve Zimmer: A Last Stand Between Public Education and the Privatizers

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As a special education and parent advocate who has run twice in LAUSD elections under the rallying cry of “Change The LAUSD”, my first inclination is to recommend against a vote for the incumbent in the District 4 Board race. However, as the election of Trump has shown, voting with a “throw the bums out” mentality can be disastrous if the people who fill these voids are less interested in fixing what is broken than burning the whole thing down. Nick Melvoin and his supporters’ plans to push even more students into charters falls into the latter category and will only serve to bankrupt the District, taking away opportunities for those left behind.

In some ways, Melvoin represents the Status Quo for the District. After all, the LAUSD “already has the highest number of charters - more than 200 - of any school system in the country”. These privately run organizations are largely unregulated by a Charter School Division that is headed by a former employee of one of the groups pushing to elect Melvoin. While tagged as anti-charter by the CCSA, this Board has only rejected nine charter renewals during the last five years. This includes the several from Celerity charters, whose offices were raided by the FBI. This inadequate scrutiny of charters would be lessened even further by a Board with a pro-charter majority.

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Stacking the Deck?

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Moreover, ‘lower achieving students’ is not a protected class.

  • Brian Bauer, GHCHS

This week, Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) will attempt to win its sixth national Academic Decathlon championship in seven years. If this were a high school sports team instead of an academic one, the improbability of this accomplishment would probably be more of a focus but instead, it is blindly celebrated. No one seems to ask how it possible for a school that is supposed to draw from surrounding neighborhoods to consistently dominate a competition in a way that can only be compared to the winning streaks of the Harlem Globetrotters or the USA’s Olympic basketball Dream Teams. There is no doubt that members of Granada’s team work hard to achieve their success, but does the demographic makeup of this school give their team an unfair advantage?

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Above the Law?

The LAUSD Board will be voting on whether they support a package of anti-charter laws that would threaten our schools’ funding, flexibility to implement the programs best for our students, and our ability to continue serving our families.

-Granada Hills Charter High School

Real estate records show that on March 17, 2005, a “Bayer, Brian” whose address was “11141 Tampa Ave” purchased a property at 10600 Zelzah Ave., across the street from Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS). According to tax records, this house was still owned by “Bayer, Brian” on August 20, 2006. However, on December 11, 2008, a Grant Deed was filed stating that there was “an error in the name of the grantee in the original deed recorded on March 17, 2005.” At that point, GHCHS became the registered owner of the property.

If it is true that Brian Bauer, aka Brian Bayer, was accidentally recorded as the owner of the house on Zelzah, it is unclear why it took three and a half years to correct the mistake. The Governing Board is responsible for the $440,000 spent on the property and should have immediately noticed that the deed to the property had “accidentally” been given to their Executive Director. The charter is subject to a yearly “independent” audit, but these auditors also seemed to miss this major problem. As the authorizer for GHCHS, the LAUSD is responsible for oversight and conducts annual reviews. For three and a half years they also missed the problem.

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A Tale of Two School Districts

We are also exploring another option, which is to petition LAUSD. This is promising for many reasons, one of which would be the relative ease in finding a site. We would still seek to locate in the same general geographic area, but Los Angeles has greater inventory

-International Studies Language Academy

Despite having a school board that is alleged to be anti-charter, the LAUSD approves a lot of these publicly funded private schools.  In fact, “no other school system in the nation has more charters or charter students than L.A.” Renewals for these charters are “routinely approved”, even when they have low academic achievement and fail to meet their obligations to special education students. Having their offices raided by the FBI does not preclude a charter operator from being offered co-located space in District schools, potentially disrupting the education of LAUSD students. In the meantime, the LAUSD hurls towards bankruptcy, partially due to the loss of students to the charter industry.

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The Bipartisan Attack on Public Education

I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina.

-Democrat Arne Duncan

There is no doubt that Trump’s Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, is a clear threat to our public education system. Despite “analysis [that] has shown that charter schools [in her home state of Michigan] perform more poorly than public schools”, DeVos has not only pushed to grow the charter industry in the state, but also fought to ensure that charters are not held accountable for the public funds that they receive. For example, last summer, “the DeVos family contributed $1.45 million over two months...to Michigan GOP lawmakers and the state party after the Republican-led Legislature derailed a bipartisan provision that would have provided more charter school oversight in Detroit.” And now Trump has given her the opportunity to spread policies that are “destroying learning outcomes” nationwide.

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Paying the Price for Monica Garcia's Win

“If parents are not happy with the school program, it is a school of choice. They are free (and indeed encouraged) to remove their kids from the school. There are plenty of other public school options for their children.

-Mr. Tschang, former KIPP Principal

4.JPGAs I walked off stage at the only debate in the race for LAUSD’s District 2’s Board seat, a student walked up to me to express his support and to say that “we need you on the Board.” I thanked him and also assured him that I would continue fighting for the students of the District, win or lose. This pledge immediately came to mind as I found a flyer delivered by the District to the house in East L.A. where I had rented a room in order to run against Monica Garcia and her allegiance to charters. The public school closest to where I had lived for the past six months is scheduled to become the latest host for a charter school parasite and the District had scheduled an informational meeting to discuss the issue. On Tuesday morning I attended this meeting with approximately 60 parents of Marianna Avenue Elementary school. According to the flyer, staff was also invited to this meeting, but how exactly were they supposed to participate while school was in session? So much for the LAUSD’s goal of “parent and community engagement”.

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Fighting Off a Prop-39 Parasite

Financial records obtained by The Times show that, as Celerity’s CEO, [Vielka McFarlane] paid for many of these expenses with a credit card belonging to her charter schools, which receive the bulk of their funding from the state.

- Los Angeles Times, March 6, 2017

No_Charter_at_Arminta.JPG When the LAUSD denied two Celerity charter renewals in October LAUSD Charter School Division (CSD) Director José Cole-Gutiérrez was quoted as saying that they had “severe concerns with regard to their lack of transparency. We are not even clear who the board members are.” Since then, the FBI and other federal agents have raided the offices of Celerity Educational Group “collecting laptops and copying data from computers”.  The Los Angeles Times has also written two exposés on the publicly funded private schools that included charges that Celerity provided “few school supplies but [held] a lavish party” and the CEO, who was paid $471,842, paid for extravagant “expenses with a credit card belonging to her charter schools”. All this was not enough to stop the District from offering Celerity co-location space at Arminta Street Elementary School under Proposition 39.

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Carl Petersen for LAUSD School Board, District 2

Tuesday is Election Day!
The charters are spending millions to buy control of the LAUSD.
Your vote can stop them.

CLICK HERE to find your polling place.

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The Illusion of School Choice

“ASB funds can never be used to loan money to any group or individual”

- GHCHS’ ASB Handbook

As quoted by the LAUSD Charter School Division

Although parents were never notified, the LAUSD’s Charter School Division (CSD) issued a Notice to Cure to Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) on September 21, 2016. This notice that specified “Immediate Action Required” was issued as a direct result of my investigation that found that the charter’s administration was improperly using “funds of a student body organization” for their payroll obligations. These funds were raised by the student body, are owned by the students of the school and are required to be under the direct control of the Associated Student Body (ASB) council. The law specifically prohibits these funds from being used to pay for items, like payroll, that are supposed to be paid for by the school.

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Stop Betsy DeVos in Los Angeles

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