Parental Engagement

By Carl J. Petersen

Education issues as seen from a father's eyes.

Where Do the LAUSD Board Members Stand?

“Privatizing forces have appropriated the language of civil rights and social justice movements, while simultaneously gutting our schools of resources and selling our schools away to corporate-run charter companies.”

- Reclaim Our Schools LA

As noted by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) School Board members in their joint statement dated August 21, 2018, “students and their families will bear the brunt of a strike action.” Many parents of the hundreds of thousands of students who attend District schools are scrambling to make arrangements for their children knowing that if schools remain open, LAUSD lawyers have admitted that “the health and safety of students” would be threatened and a normal academic program will be impossible to maintain. Students who depend on meals delivered by the schools are especially vulnerable as the district has not stated how these programs would be handled if schools are forced to close.

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Can the LAUSD Ensure Student Safety During a Strike?

In addition to threatening the health and safety of students, a strike would also...

- Exhibit A in LAUSD Court Filing

For over 25 years the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has been unable to satisfy the terms of a Consent Decree meant to ensure that students with special education needs receive the education that they are entitled to by law. Yet when faced with a strike by United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), the District has suddenly shown a concern “that students with disabilities not be deprived of legally-mandated services.” Therefore, lawyers for the District asked the court to enjoin “UTLA, its officers, and representatives from causing, encouraging, condoning, or participating in any strike, slowdown, or other work stoppage by any UTLA bargaining unit member who provides educational services to LAUSD special education students.

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Lowering Class Size: If Not Now, When?

Whereas, The District is committed to creating the most enriching academic environment for all students, which includes a reduction in class-size;

- LAUSD School Board

On June 18, 2013, the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) School Board voted for a resolution that directed their “Superintendent to examine the feasibility of implementing class-size reduction for the 2014-15 academic calendar and to develop a long term, class-size reduction strategy that will yield positive academic results”. In the over five years that have passed since the resolution should have been implemented, the District has had four different Superintendents. The class size ratio has remained exactly the same.

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As Strike Looms, LAUSD Special Education Practices Come Into Focus

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 [sic] how can we serve our own kids?

- LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is not always a welcoming place to a person who needs accommodations. According to a report released on October 25, 2017, a child with a physical disability would be unable to enter through the main entrance of one-fifth of the schools within the District. Once inside, they could not access all areas above the first floor in a quarter of all facilities. “Fewer than one-third of schools have accessible restrooms on campus.

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KLCS Dismissed

Austin Beutner you can’t hide, we can see your greedy side.

- LAUSD Parents and Students

As if the responsibility for educating 694,096 students was not enough, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) also owns and operates a television station. KLCS is part of the Public Broadcasting System and one of the Los Angeles homes for Sesame Street. It is also responsible for broadcasting and live-streaming public meetings held by the LAUSD Board. For many working parents, this is the only way to oversee the actions of their School Board.

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The NRA Misses the Target with Their "Good Guy with a Gun" Strategy

While others struggled to flee the Borderline Bar and Grill, Ventura County Sergeant Ron Helus and a still unnamed California Highway Patrol officer ran towards danger. As Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub told reporters: “Both Sgt. Helus and the CHP officer knowingly and willingly went into what can only be described as a combat situation, risking their own lives to save many others”. The two officers were the ultimate good guys with guns; Helus was a 29-year veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office and the CHP officer was a nine-year veteran of the CHP and had a military background. At the end of the encounter with a mass-murderer, the CHP officer pulled Helus’ dying body out of the building. The coroner later revealed that it was his gun that likely delivered the bullet that ultimately ended Helus’ life. Neither police officer managed to hit the shooter.

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Dismantling Our Public Schools

The District representatives were not helpful in suggesting remedies

- Cheryl Ortega

Under what circumstances should the police be called on a five-year-old child? According to parents at Mayberry Elementary School in the Silver Lake/Echo Park area of Los Angeles, the principal has called the Los Angeles Police Department about students under her charge on six different occasions. In one incident, a kindergarten student was questioned by police after he “pulled his pants down to a playmate”. When the boy’s mother, Britney Ingram, attempted to find out what was happening, she was told by the officers that the matter was a “confidential problem”, that she could not “be present while they questioned her son” and “that if her son did not testify they would take him to the police station.” Another parent who attempted to record the events was removed from the school at the direction of the principal despite the fact that she “was a registered [school] visitor at the time this happened”.

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The LAUSD Widget Factory

All in all, you’re just another brick in the wall

- Roger Waters

The Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) School Experience Survey is an opportunity for parents and guardians to grade the District’s performance. Included in this questionnaire are important statements  such as “Reports of bullying are taken seriously at this school” and “This school encourages my child to explore different career choices.” These apply to all students and are benchmarks on which all schools deserve to be judged.

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LAUSD's Board District 5 Is Still Unrepresented

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We are living at a time in our nation when democracy and true representative government is being attacked and eroded at every level of leadership

- LAUSD Board Member Scott Schmerelson

It has been almost three months since the LAUSD School Board rejected Board Member Scott Schmerelson’s “Providing a Voice and a Vote for the Constituents of Board District 5” resolution. As a result, the seat vacated by Ref Rodriguez has remained empty as the LAUSD careens towards a teacher’s strike. One-seventh of the LAUSD’s stakeholders have had no voice while Superintendent Austin Beutner is working on a secret plan to make another attempt at reorganizing the District’s bureaucracy. Parents had no one to turn to as yet another under-regulated charter school within Board District 5’s boundaries closed down in the middle of the school year.

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LAUSD Increases Salary Offer, Teachers Hold Out for Students

Salary: 6% on-schedule raise, including 3% retroactive for 2017-18, plus 3% raise for 2018-19

- LAUSD

The LAUSD has already signed contracts with their other major unions that included raises totaling about 6%. It was, therefore, unclear why the District’s initial offer to the teachers was to only raise their salaries by 2%. This seemed to be especially insulting after Board Members received a raise of at least 174% and Superintendent Austin Beutner was given a contract with a base salary of $350,000 after his supporters initially told the Board that he was willing to work for free.

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