Parental Engagement

By Carl J. Petersen

Education issues as seen from a father's eyes.

LAUSD Libraries are Safe (For Now)

We intend to bring forth a budget in June that will commit to sustaining library aides for all elementary schools for the 2019-20 school year.

- LA Superintendent Austin Beutner

In the days leading up to the strike by Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) teachers, Board Member Nick Melvoin told parents that the teachers just wanted to “get it out of the system for a day or two” and then they would “settle on pretty much same terms that they started with.” What Melvoin did not anticipate was that hundreds of thousands of parents would keep their students out of the classroom and that many would walk the rain-soaked picket lines in solidarity with their teachers. As a result, the teachers won many of their demands that were centered on improving educational outcomes for the children of Los Angeles.

One of the outcomes of the strike is that in the coming years funding will be provided to ensure that libraries will be open in all secondary schools within the LAUSD and will be staffed with a librarian. Elementary schools were not included in the agreement because they are staffed with library aides who are represented by a different union. LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner was, therefore, able to hatch a plan that forced elementary principals to choose between libraries and other vital services. This meant that some elementary schools would see their libraries closed in the next school year.

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LAUSD's Measure EE Highlights the Need For Charter School Oversight

- LAUSD Board Member Nick Melvoin

Last July, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board had the opportunity to put a parcel tax on the regularly scheduled November ballot. Unfortunately, the California Charter School Association (CCSA) opposed the resolution by George McKenna and Scott Schmerelson, falsely claiming that “the proposal [excluded] 110,000 charter public [sic] school students.” Therefore, Ref Rodriguez (in one of his last actions before pleading guilty to felonious acts related to his campaign), Nick Melvoin and Monica Garcia voted against asking the voters for funding that was desperately needed by the students of the district.

Less than nine months later, Melvoin and Garcia had a change of heart. Perhaps they read the writing on the wall and realized that Jackie Goldberg’s impending election meant that the parcel tax was going to pass without their support. Or maybe it was the fact that Melvoin’s expectations for a quick victory in the January strike crumbled when parents and the community supported the demands made by the teachers. In any case, they finally joined McKenna and Schmerelson to take the steps needed to place Measure EE before the voters on June 4, 2019.

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The Voters Have Spoken (Again). Is the LAUSD Listening?

LAUSD Board District 5’s Empty Seat

It has been 296 days since Ref Rodriguez pleaded guilty to felony charges and was forced from the  Board District 5 seat. During this time, students in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board District 5 have had no representation. Considering the fact that their former board member’s crimes were directly related to his election, these constituents have not been represented fairly since the day that Rodriguez took office. 

During the time that the LAUSD Board District 5 has sat empty:

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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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