A Charter School Regulator Plays the Blame Game

"It is the responsibility of the school to follow the law and its authorizer to ensure this is done to the extent possible."

- Debra Duardo, Superintendent

Los Angeles County Office of Education

Last November, the LAUSD rejected the North Valley Military Institute’s (NVMI) charter renewal. As allowed by California law, the school appealed the decision to the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), whose staff also recommended a rejection. However, the county board ignored their staff’s findings and approved the renewal. They did so without having a current, certified copy of the school’s required annual independent audit.

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LA charter chief says all students reimbursed after alleged illegal summer school fees

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WANTED: A Resister-In-Chief


As the temperature heads towards 120° in Los Angeles, I am trying to concentrate on cool thoughts. Having been part of the last generation of paperboys in suburban New York, there are plenty of snowy memories to rely on.

In one of my favorites, I woke up after an overnight snowstorm having to deliver a thick Sunday paper using roads that had still not been plowed. Not wanting to make several trips, I had the brilliant plan of strapping a milk crate to my sled. This worked great for the first half of my route, at which point the sun came out in full force and completely melted the fresh snow. It took me forever to finish my route as I dragged the sled over solid ground.

“Man Plans and God Laughs.”

- Yiddish proverb


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KNX 1070 Newsradio - June 27, 2018


State education officials have told a public charter school in Sun Valley to stop charging fees for students to attend summer school. Superintendent of the North Valley Military Institute tells the Daily News the fees were required because the school didn't have the budget otherwise. San Fernando Valley education advocate, Carl Petersen, filed a complaint against the school. He tells KNX the fees were wrong:

"This creates a barrier. They serve mainly low-income students. What they are saying is that if you can't afford this, then you don't get the services. That is not what public education is about."

The school's superintendent says the school believes the fees were legal but will listen to state officials and refund the money.

copyright held by KNX.

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A Charter School Cheats, LAUSD Sleeps


"Existing law prohibits a pupil enrolled in school from being required to pay a fee, deposit, or other charge not specifically authorized by law."

California AB 1575

The North Valley Military Institute (NVMI) is no stranger to the LAUSD’s Charter School Division (CSD). Just last November, the CSD recommended to the District’s Board that they should not renew the school’s charter. During the spring oversight visit, they failed the school in each of the four categories that they inspect, including an “unsatisfactory” rating for fiscal operations. Despite all of these red flags, the District still overlooked the fact that the school was “charging illegal summer school fees and unfairly compensating some students who have been working at the school because they could not afford them”.

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LA charter chief believes summer school fees were legal, but plans to pay them back

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LA charter school’s summer program fees are illegal, state says

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What Message Does Ref Rodriguez Send to the Children of Los Angeles?


"My focus remains on my job and duties as a board member."

- Ref Rodriguez

It has been nine months since the news broke that LAUSD Board Member Ref Rodriguez was being charged with participating in a conspiracy that hid the true source of almost $25,000 in campaign donations from the public. While his lawyer claimed that the accusations were “much ado about nothing”, the District Attorney’s office felt that they rose to the level of a “Felony Complaint”. Through the use of legal manoeuvrings, Rodriguez’ attorneys have successfully pushed back his court date. Meanwhile, Rodriguez continues to sit on the School Board representing constituents that he is alleged to have defrauded.

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Aiding and Abetting the Killing of an Open Government

"And I would have made millions if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids."

- Villain caught by Mystery, Inc.

With multiple open investigations into alleged violations of the Brown Act, it is clear that the LAUSD School Board needs a refresher course on how this law works. According to LAUSD Board Member Nick Melvoin, the District’s General Counsel, David Holmquist, “is always present when the board meets”, so he should have been the one to raise a red-flag when the law was violated. Unfortunately, Holmquist seems ignorant of the requirement that “public agencies should err on the side of providing the public with more information, not less” and has declared that the vote did not have to be reported.

On June 5, the LAUSD went into closed session to consider renewing the contract of Holmquist. Before they did so, I took the opportunity to provide the following remarks during public comment:

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Lessons From A Tweet Gone Viral

"Congress placed marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and, as such, growing, distributing, and possessing marijuana in any capacity, other than as part of a federally authorized research program, is a violation of federal law regardless of state laws permitting such activities."

- Obama’s Justice Department

While the right-wing likes to pretend that Barack Obama was “the most liberal president in America's history”, the fact is that he governed from the corporate center. He may have campaigned on a stimulus package that would have created a $10 billion foreclosure prevention fund and a $60 billion infrastructure bank, but the end result was a package that relied more heavily on $288 billion in tax cuts. In the 2008 campaign, he opposed Clinton’s call to use the Republican idea of mandating the purchase of health insurance coverage, but this was a key part of the Obamacare system that was eventually passed. Candidate Obama expressed concern about “a system that locks away too many young, first-time, non-violent offenders for the better part of their lives”, but President Obama left office with many of those prisoners older and still behind bars.

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