Parental Engagement

By Carl J. Petersen

Education issues as seen from a father's eyes.

LAUSD Board Set to Consider "Holding GHCHS Accountable to Their Charter" Resolution

It’s hard to light a candle, easy to curse the dark instead

- Nightwish

GHCHS_1.23.18.jpgIn order to prevent charter schools from discouraging parents from enrolling children with special education needs, the Office of the Independent Monitor required that the District prohibit them from asking for any special education paperwork prior to enrollment. As originally pointed out in a Uniform Complaint filed on December 21, 2016, Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) has blatantly violated this prohibition for years without any intervention from the LAUSD Charter School Division, the LAUSD School Board, or the State Department of Education. In fact, as the school enrolls students for the next school year, it still requests prohibited documents on three different pages in the enrollment section of its website.

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Whack-A-Mole: The Los Angeles Approach to Charter Regulation

Our oversight is “proactive and responsive.”

- José Cole-Gutiérrez, LAUSD Charter School Division

Last June, I informed the LAUSD School Board that a charter school under their jurisdiction was violating the privacy of their students by publishing “Parent Volunteer Hours” reports on their website that included student names. The charter’s Chief Development Officer defended the practice by saying that even though the list included the names of students and not volunteers, it was “a way to recognize and congratulate those who are involved.” No mention was made of the obvious violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

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Clicking the link that used to provide access to the “Parent Volunteer Hours” reports now returns a “404 Page Not Found” error. It is reassuring that going forward the privacy of these students is no longer being violated. However, quietly removing this information from the website does not change the fact that the students’ privacy was already violated. It also leaves questions unanswered, including:

  • The LAUSD Charter School Division (CSD) has stated in the past that “We look at their websites, not only at that time but in their oversight.” Did they miss this violation or purposely overlook it?
  • Why did the administration of the school not realize that their actions were a violation of federal law?
  • Were parents notified that their children’s privacy had been violated?
  • What steps have been taken to ensure that other charter schools are not engaging in the same practice?
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LAUSD Stakeholders Are Not Reading From An Open Book

Access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state

- California Government Code


When LAUSD Superintendent Michelle King first disappeared from the halls of the Beaudry Building “some insiders said she injured herself in an accident while on vacation with her family.” In October, “a district spokeswoman downplayed the effect of the medical issue” saying that she would return the following Monday, but that did not happen and the medical leave was made indefinite. A District spokesman then announced that “the superintendent planned to return January 22.” This was proven incorrect when four months into her leave King announced that she will not “return to her position and plans to retire later this year”. She “also ended months of speculation by announcing the condition that prompted her medical leave: she has been receiving treatment for cancer.”

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If Money Continues to Talk, We're Screwed

In the congressional races in 2008, the candidate who had more money won more than 93% of the time. Our representatives don’t serve us; they serve the people who pay them — their corporate funders.

- Cenk Uygur

The Republicans passed a tax bill despite the opposition of 55% of Americans. Now in an ass-backward move, they will now rely on conservative groups to plan “a multimillion-dollar effort to sell the GOP’s tax cut law”. These efforts include the Koch brothers launching “a multimillion-dollar push next year”, a GOP super PAC spending “$10 million to protect House members” and the Committee to Unleash Prosperity spending “the majority of its $1 million annual budget selling the tax plan”. The success of this plan relies on the American people forgetting that the law could add “$2.0 trillion to $2.2 trillion (before interest)” to the deficit, purposely punishes the citizens of Blue States, and is crafted in a way that “nearly two-thirds of the benefit [go] to the richest fifth of Americans in 2018.” The key to enabling this amnesia is the (perhaps inflated) reductions to withholding rates that will take effect in February, distracting the middle class from the fact that by 2027, 53% of Americans will pay more taxes under the new tax scheme.

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A Very Different Definition of Choice

Further, as the CSD is aware, iGranada is a well-designed independent study option, wherein most students are on campus daily, actively engaged in 1-on-1 and group learning.

- Brian Bauer, GHCHS

The inclusion of a statement in each independent study agreement that independent study is an optional educational alternative in which no pupil may be required to participate. In the case of a pupil who is referred or assigned to any school, class, or program pursuant to Section 48915 or 48917, the agreement also shall include the statement that instruction may be provided to the pupil through independent study only if the pupil is offered the alternative of classroom instruction.

- California Education Code

In the most basic of ways, Granada Hills High School has always been a school of choice. As noted by one researcher, “the choice among public schools has been linked to the family's decision about where to live, a decision that gives wealthy families more choice than poor families.” Unlike in economically disadvantaged portions of Los Angeles, many families in the surrounding neighborhoods of Granada Hills had the ability, and, therefore choice, to move within the boundaries of Granada Hills High School, “one of the highest-achieving schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District”, even before its conversion to a charter in 2003. While the charter industry promotes itself as a way for parents to have more choice, Granada’s conversion had more to do with the school’s ability to choose its students.

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Depriving the LAUSD Board of Ignorance

At the Los Angeles Unified School District, our goals are...5. School safety

- LAUSD

Given the vastness of the LAUSD bureaucracy, there is no guarantee that the members of the School Board knew that Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) had been cited for making unauthorized modifications to their District owned campus that threatened student and staff safety. Therefore, I used my three minutes of public comment at the LAUSD  November 14, meeting to make the board members aware of this situation:

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Senate Education Committee Informational Hearing: Charter School Authorization in CA

My testimony at the Senate Education Committee Informational Hearing: Charter School Authorization in CA on October 23, 2017:


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The LAUSD Continues to Reward Failure

The California Charter School Association (CCSA) paid millions to purchase the LAUSD School Board, but their narrow majority is in danger. Not only is Ref Rodriguez, one of their hand-selected Board members, facing criminal charges related to his campaign, but the charter school chain he founded has accused him of having a conflict of interest while he was their Treasurer. This, in turn, exposed the charter organization’s lax financial controls. All of this has caused a rare sense of unity across the education divide; both the Los Angeles Times and United Teachers Los Angeles have both called for Rodriguez’ resignation.

Meeting_Materials_171007.jpgHaving reintroduced the chaos back into the District that has been missing since the departure of Deasy, the charter industry played their next hand by blackmailing the District in an attempt to remove language that the LAUSD requires in each charter. If they did not get their way, 13 charters would move to the county or state where even less oversight is provided. Judging by the line of news trucks lined outside the Boardroom on Beaudry, the media was prepared for the November 7, special Board meeting to be full of drama.

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Parents Against Accountability

As a school of CHOICE, you CHOOSE to be here and are expected to productively and respectfully resolve problems. You have options. Clearly, you are either a very satisfied customer who appreciates the roles you have as an employee, union steward, parent, and committee member, or….

- Johnathan Williams, The Accelerated Schools


IMG-2150.JPGLike the “America, love it or leave it” crowd in national politics, charter supporters will venomously attack anyone who dares to criticize the operations of these schools. This was exemplified by Los Angeles County School Board President Alex Johnson who defended the academic failures of one of the Magnolia Charter Schools by accusing me of being “against high-quality education for black and brown students”. The same false claims of racism were also used against former LAUSD Board Member Bennett Kayser, along with attacks based on his medical condition. A parent who is a frequent critic of the Accelerated Charter Schools was told that she should start “looking at the glass, the kids, the School as half full, and appreciating the asset and building on it”. Instead of complaining, she should “see the light and begin to operate with in [sic] it.” Life is much easier if you join the cult.

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The LAUSD's Failure to Follow Through

Lunch Shelter Area that is structurally unstable. It is an immediate safety hazard and must be fenced off until removed or constructed to the District’s standards and applicable laws.

- LAUSD Facilities Services Division

GHCHS Lunch Area open to the public on October 27, 2017Within a period of one year, Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) was issued two Notices to Cure (NTC) and one Notice of Violation by  LAUSD. These directed the charter’s administration to correct financial improprieties, enrollment policies that did not conform with the education code and construction projects that endangered the safety of students. Each specified deadlines that had to be met. While these deadlines have all passed, it does not appear that the corrective actions in any of these cases have been made.

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