The LAUSD School Board includes former teachers and school administrators. A student representative is also included in an advisory role. However, not one of the seven Board members has a child who is currently enrolled in the District. With this lack of representation is it a surprise that too many parents feel that they do not have a voice in how the District operates?
The formulation of the school calendar provides one example where the presence of a parent on the Board may have made a difference in the decision making process. Once again our children are returning to school in the middle of an August heat wave. The Los Angeles Daily News reports that a survey found that “19,000 of the roughly 54,200 parents and employees surveyed wanted instruction to kick off after the first Monday of September.” These parent complaints seem to crop up every year, but the August start date remains.
Perhaps a parent would ask the bureaucrats questions that could change the debate and save the District legal costs. While the LAUSD’s Division of Special Education continues to deny that they are in the process of closing the special education centers that serve the most severely affected students, many parents have reported that the choice of attending these schools has been taken away from them during the IEP process. As a result, a group of these parents sued the district and received a favorable ruling from the appeals court. Instead of using this as an opportunity to negotiate with the parents, four Board members, including Monica Garcia, voted to appeal. This was clearly a waste of resources as the court did not accept the appeal.
Sometimes it may not be the decision but the implementation that a parent could change. When schools were forced to close last December because of a terror threat hoax, some parents were left scrambling as they tried to retrieve students who had already been dropped off. Some parents had to take the day off from work as the unexpected closure left them without childcare plans. This was in addition to the anxiety that was caused by the alleged threat and a lack of information that was provided by the District. In the meantime, Board Member Monica Garcia joked before a live television interview and saw the crisis as an opportunity to “be a Mexican Oprah.” A parent on the Board might have been better able to anticipate the problems that others would face and suggest ways that they could be accommodated. This parent would also insist that the closure be used as an example to learn by so that the District will be better prepared to handle emergencies in the future.