Low Expectations and the Oversight of Charter Schools

“With respect to the reimbursement of any cap and gown fees charged previously, it is the expectation of the CSD that GHCHS will provide notice to all affected parents of students in the 2014-2015 graduating class regarding options for reimbursement or other remedy.”

- LAUSD Charter Schools Division

Month after month, the LAUSD School Board hears from a seemingly endless parade of charter organizations seeking authorization or re-authorization from the District. Even though each one of these approvals will drain students from the public schools run by the Board and reduce funding for the District’s students, most are placed on the consent calendar and voted on without discussion. With very few exceptions, they simply rubber stamp the recommendation of the Charter Schools Division (CSD). Unfortunately, my personal experience with the bureaucrats at the CSD has shown that they have little interest in making sure that charters are conforming to the California Education Code.

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LAUSD--MISIS: the gift that keeps on stealing (our bond money and our tax dollars)

“The cost of L.A. Unified's digital student tracking system rises to $189 million.” 

“Last week, the school board approved $40.3 million for what the technology division says will be the last of six large chunks of bond money needed to fix the problems.”

Add a lawsuit  here, a lawsuit there, paying a former superintendent or two, a wasted program or 100, a superfluous bureaucracy, plus the money for the worthless tests and the test preparation materials that do nothing but enrich the publishers.

What is left for on campus needs?

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Do Not Try to Placate Us with Words, We Need Action


On April 12, 2016, the LAUSD School Board considered a motion to recognize Autism Awareness Month. I used the opportunity for public comment to outline the ways that they can move beyond words to actually improve the educational opportunities for those with autism and other special education needs. The following is a transcript of my remarks:


Hi, my name is Carl Petersen and I’m here to speak on behalf of my two daughters who are on the autism spectrum and can’t speak for themselves. At last month’s meeting Ms. Garcia said:

When we say $1.4 billion for special ed and we only have $700 million from the federal government and the other $700 million are coming from every child in this district, I’m not about defunding special ed. I just know that we have a serious issue to how can we serve our own kids?

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Send Your Child to a Charter, Sign Away Your Parental Rights?

Our School “is permitted to meet with your child without your knowledge of prior consent.”

-James W. Salin, GHCHS Governing Board Chair

Like a page out of 1984, Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) includes stock language in responses to complaints asserting that “GHCHS values your input”, while the actual response shows the direct opposite. In the latest example they ignored my wife’s formal complaint about how our parental rights were violated when the school’s nursing staff tried to return my daughter to physical education earlier than the doctor had instructed and contrary to what she had specified in a note written to the school, with a response that provided a dissertation on the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and how the school complies with these regulations. A follow-up request for the school to investigate the actual terms of the complaint and correct errors within their findings of fact was met with a response that “my April 4, 2016, response addresses your complaints, so no amended response is being issued.”

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Why are LAUSD teachers (and probably most other teachers) afraid of their principals?

"The Power of the Principal."

A principal can make a teacher’s life miserable:

Through harassment;

By giving them the cold shoulder; 

By spreading negative words about them to staff and parents;

By not supporting them in situations with parents;

By not supporting their discipline 

Principals can load up classes with the most difficult and lowest performing students.

Principals can change the teacher’s assignment even though in LAUSD assignments are supposed to be selected by seniority. The on site union representative is most unlikely to stand up for a teacher fearing the above negative treatment. Calling the union is totally fruitless as the union leaders are most concerned about spending the dues and maintaining their perks, privileges, and pensions just like the LAUSD downtown bureaucracy that they totally mirror.

This has been going on forever.

The Kingdom of LAUSD—a top down pyramid (empire) with the serfs—teachers--at the absolute bottom of the pyramid.

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Putting A Face On MS

Nicole_and_Carl2.jpgShortly after my wife and I had met, we had what I now refer to as our “clearing the calendar” phone call. We knew individually that we had hit it off and were ready to take it to a higher level. This involved sharing our feelings and then syncing our complicated calendars. However, before we could do this, Nicole told me there was something that I needed to know first.

For some reason, the first thought that quickly crossed my mind was that I should have never watched the Crying Game. After all, what other plot twist could justify the gravity in her voice? I already knew that she had triplets and that two of the girls were on the autism spectrum. If I was willing to accept these challenges, what else could she possibly tell me that could cause me to run?

And so she cautioned me, “Before we go any further I need you know that I have Multiple Sclerosis. M.S.

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Trading Student Safety for Independence?


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


As a father of two daughters who require special education services, I know from personal experience that the LAUSD has a less than stellar track record of working with parents to meet the needs of our students. A parent should not have to hire a lawyer to make sure that the District follows the recommendations of its own evaluation, but this is exactly what our family had to do. In order to settle this complaint, we also had to sign a confidentiality agreement so that we could not tell other parents about the services that we had been offered. I can empathize with anyone who is critical of the District’s lack of local control and their efforts to thwart accountability.

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Trump the Alpha Male?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

-First Amendment - United States Constitution

In the era of false equivalency, it should not be surprising that television's talking heads have tried to place equal blame on victims of Trump-inspired violence. It is no surprise that Fox’s Greta Van Susteren stated without any proof that the rally in Chicago was canceled because “a few protesters who looked like a few anti-Trump supporters, went up there and caused problems.” However, it is bewildering that when Trump states on MSNBC that “some of these protestors are dangerous people...extremely dangerous, extremely physical” and host Chris Matthews does not even ask for an example of this violence. Certainly, the example Trump gave of a protester “jumping up and down for 15 minutes” did not rise to the level of “violence or potential violence.”

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Monica Garcia's Attack on Special Education


When we say $1.4 billion for special ed and we only have $700 million from the federal government and the other $700 million are coming from every child in this district, I’m not about defunding special ed. I just know that we have a serious issue to how can we serve our own kids?

-Mónica García

Originally, this blog was supposed to be about the LAUSD’s misunderstanding of the diverse needs of students who require special education. I had watched a presentation on the Local Control Action Plan (LCAP) that was given during the February School Board meeting and learned that the District is measuring its success by counting the number of students that they can integrate into a mainstream environment. This type of goal ignores the needs of our most vulnerable students who are put at risk by being placed in these inclusive environments and has resulted in the threat of closure for the District’s Special Education Centers. After all, the law does not simply state that students must be placed in the “least restrictive environment”, it conditions this requirement on doing so to the “maximum extent that is appropriate.”

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Judge, Jury, Executioner: The Charter School Version of Accountability

“No further action is being taken at this time.”

-Brian Bauer, Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS)

It is the expectation of the CSD that GHCHS will provide notice to all affected parents of students in the 2014-2015 graduating class regarding options for reimbursement or other remedy.

-LAUSD Charter School Division

Reasonable efforts to fully reimburse all pupils, parents and guardians who paid a pupil fee include but are not limited to crediting the pupil's school financial account and sending reimbursement by first class mail to the pupil's last known primary address as contained in school or local educational agency records.”

-California Education Code

This is a battle that did not need to be fought. While Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) claims that its “policy is to comply with applicable federal and state laws and regulations”, the fees it charged for last year’s graduation ceremony violated the portion of the education code that states that “a pupil fee cannot be charged” for this ceremony because it is “an integral part of the educational process.” When confronted with their mistake, the school offered me a refund for some of these fees but refused to take corrective action on a school-wide basis. I elevated the complaint to “Executive Director”, Brian Bauer, who denied a violation had occurred but refused to answer any specific questions about his decision. Left with no other options, I filed a Uniform Complaint Procedure form with the school which should have initiated a formal, independent investigation. Instead, Bauer handled the investigation himself and found that there was no wrongdoing.

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