Parental Engagement

By Carl J. Petersen

Education issues as seen from a father's eyes.

Jackie Goldberg on Special Education

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A School Board Race Turns Ugly

I am embarrassed that there are any Board members on this Board of Education that do not take seriously that a man with three felony charges against him is still on this Board.

- Jackie Goldberg on Ref Rodriguez

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education candidate Jackie Goldberg taught for 16 years in the Compton Unified School District. In 1983, she was elected to the LAUSD Board of Education and served for two terms. She was then elected to serve two terms on the Los Angeles City Council and three terms in the California State Assembly where she chaired the Assembly Education Committee. In the 13 years since she left the Assembly, Goldberg has continued to engage in public service and was a frequent voice of opposition to former Board member Ref Rodriguez after he was charged with felonies related to his campaign. In the primary race to replace him, she secured 48.45% of the vote.

While Heather Repenning claims in her campaign material to be a “former teacher”, the state of California does not show that she ever held a teaching credential. She is a long-time staffer of Mayor Eric Garcetti who was appointed to serve as the Vice President of the Board of Public works, a department which the LA Times has reported is under investigation by the FBI. During the primary, her supporters received a $100,000 donation from Eli Broad, who had also supported Ref Rodriguez. As the second-place finisher in the primary, Repenning received 13.17% of the vote.

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LAUSD Board Delays Vote on Cutting Public Speaking Time

The time has come for a new era of transparency and accountability. For too long, parents, students, and taxpayers have been kept in the dark about what’s going on in District headquarters

- Nick Melvoin (2017)

As of Monday night, the agenda for the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) Special Board Meeting listed a motion to approve changes to the Board rules that had been recommended by Nick Melvoin’s Rules “Committee.” Included in these proposed new rules was a reduction in the time allotted for public comment from three to two minutes per person. Much like the selection of Superintendent Austin Beutner, the proposed changes had been made behind closed doors and without public input.

This is the line to get into the Board meeting two hours before the start time.

After arriving two hours before the start of the meeting and securing my place as the 46th person in line, I was able to sign up for public comments about the item. However, I was notified just minutes before the start of the meeting that the item was probably not going to be heard. This was confirmed by Monica Garcia as the meeting started and she announced that she was using her prerogative as the Board President to postpone the item until a meeting in June.

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LAUSD Board Moves to Cut Public Speaking Time

We are looking at our Board rules soon to make sure that we can hear all voices. Time of meetings and all things I think are valid concerns.

- LAUSD Board Member Nick Melvoin

After working behind closed doors and without public input, Los Angeles Unified Schools District (LAUSD) Board member Nick Melvoin’s Rules “Committee” has submitted their recommended changes to the full Board of Education. While Melvoin had suggested that this committee was “a good place...to look at” expanding access of Board meetings for parents, students, and teachers, the changes suggested do not address the “time of meetings...location...wait times…equity on sides of an issue,” or any of the other issues outlined in the “Board Meeting Accessibility to the Public” resolution that was presented to the Board last September. Instead, the committee proposes that the time allotted for each speaker be reduced from three to two minutes, a change that had not been asked for.

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Mishandling Data to Create Failing Schools

LAUSD Career and Transition Center programs provide employment preparation, independent living skills, and social skills instruction to students ages 18-22 years who are on the Alternate Curriculum.

- LAUSD

While the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) likes to pretend that all students will graduate high school and advance to college, this is an impossible goal for students with severe special education needs. Fortunately, under California law, school districts must continue serving these students until they reach the age of 22 so that they are given the opportunity to reach their full potential. One of the options for young adults who have finished the high school alternative curriculum is the Career and Transition Centers (CTC) that are located throughout the District.

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The Los Angeles Times' History of Putting Kids Last

Heather Repenning, is moderate in her approach, but her lack of experience in education shows; during an interview, she had nothing insightful or original to say about the issues facing L.A. Unified.

- Los Angeles Times Editorial Board

During my first run for the LAUSD School Board, I was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times (LAT) Editorial Board as they considered who they would endorse. Unfortunately, this discussion devolved into an argument over my support of the opt-out movement for standardized testing. I had explained that one of the reasons that my wife and I had decided to exercise our rights under the state education code and exempt our children from taking these tests was the unnecessary stress it imposed on students. A member of the Editorial Board accused me of hypocrisy as I had also allowed my children to choose to take AP tests. She was unswayed by my argument that since the payoff for undergoing the stress of taking an AP test was possibly receiving college credits, the stress of taking that test was an acceptable cost. To her, stress was a necessary part of life and she did not see a reason why children should be protected from it.

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Stealing Scarce Education Funds From LAUSD Students

The District has not received payments from Community Preparatory Academy for the months of January 2017 through June 2017, which total to $82,240.97 currently owed to the District.

- LAUSD Charter School Division


The LAUSD School Board took the rare step of considering the denial of a charter school’s renewal during their April 2, 2019, “special” meeting. In reviewing the hundreds of pages of documents supporting this recommendation, it was clear that the Community Preparatory Academy (CPA) has been in trouble since it was opened five years ago. During public comment I summarized the worst of their offenses for the Board:

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The LAUSD School Board's Secret Committee

Let’s go to that committee.”

- LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia

At the April 2, 2019 “special” meeting of the LAUSD School Board, the charter school industry was once again permitted to stack the public speaker list so that only their viewpoint was heard before action was taken on the renewal of Summit Preparatory Charter. Knowing that there was at least one person who was denied the ability speak against this renewal, Board Member Scott Schmerelson asked how he could institute a pilot program that would enable speakers to use Skype to address the Board remotely from local district offices.  In response, Board President Monica Garcia suggested that “Mr. Melvoin’s group and Mr. Crain (the Board’s Secretary)...could probably figure out how to do a pilot.” Melvoin followed up by saying “I think that it’s a great thing for the Board Rule Committee to consider.” Garcia agreed by saying “Let’s go to that committee.”

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LAUSD School Board Member Scott Schmerelson Steps Up

Board District 3 will look at that proposal for resolution and we will iron it out...We will give serious consideration to everything you said because it is all true

- Scott Schmerelson

While the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board has promised for years to address complaints about  difficulties that parents and other members of the community face when trying to participate in school board meetings, it took a member of the public using the education code to place an item on their agenda for it to finally be addressed. At Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, the Board heard from parents who supported the “Board Meeting Accessibility to the Public” resolution before discussing the item. As the person who brought forward the proposed resolution, I was given the opportunity to speak first:

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If the LAUSD's Goal is "Parent Engagement", What is the Plan of Action?

Complaints about the many obstacles that the public faces when they attempt to participate in meetings of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board are close to universal.  Parents of children enrolled in charter schools and those in District schools all seem to recognize that there is a problem with a system that requires them to line up hours in advance because the Board Room is not large enough to hold the number of people who show up, particularly when there are contentious issues on the agenda. While other local districts hold their meetings in the evening, the LAUSD hold theirs during the school day which means that working parents, students, and teachers are usually not able to attend.  Since the Board limits the number of people who can speak on a subject, frustrations mount when opposing sides are not given equal opportunity to present their arguments before a vote is taken.

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