Shutting Out The LAUSD Stakeholders

I would like to move that we move the remainding [sic] of board meetings that are tentatively scheduled for 4:00 PM Bored_of_Educationto 1:00 PM...Makes it easier for parents, certainly in my district, who might want to come speak to not be here at 11:00 at night when they have kids to put to bed and homework to supervise and it is impossible to get here during rush hour from most parts of the city to pull comment cards...A lot of us have other responsibilities that we need to take care of and I would really like to move the meetings back, like they are today with a 10:00 AM closed, 1:00 PM open so if we need to stay late we can but, otherwise, I think it works best, not perfect, there really is no time when it is convenient to everyone. But the 4:00 PM I thought would keep us here sometimes to 2:00 AM in the morning with nobody here to participate and that is not something that I support. So I would like to move all of them to 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM.

- Tamar Galatzan

According the the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 88.2% of married-couple families with children had at least one parent employed. Both parents are employed in 59.1% of these households. In single-parent households, 68.2% of women and 81.2% of men are employed. While not all of these parents are working nine to five jobs, the vast majority are not available to wait in line to get a chance to participate in a school board meeting at 1:00 in the afternoon. While a 4:00 PM start time does not move meetings away from the work day, it at least gives working parents a chance to join a meeting in progress.

Even for stay-at-home parents, a 1:00 PM start time interferes with the end of school. These parents cannot spend an afternoon waiting to attend a board meeting and pick up their children at school. Certainly, students and teachers cannot participate at these meetings and give their input. If the earlier start time is not convenient for these stakeholders, whose interest is Ms. Galatzan looking out for?

Of the five board members who voted for this change, Ms. Galatzan may have benefited the most by its enactment. When she says that “a lot of us have other responsibilities that we have to take care of,” she does not seem to be including the job requirements of the second government paycheck that she receives. While she expresses concern that the board members will have to work until 2:00 in the morning, this would certainly be a very rare exception. It seems to me that her actual concern is cutting into her personal time rather than her work time with the City Attorney.

The truth is that, in her seven years on the school board, Ms. Galazan has shown that she is not very interested in having the board or the district be accountable to its stakeholders. In fact, she does not even want the voters of the district to have a say who is on the school board.  Instead, she supports “some sort of [mayor-] appointed board.”

In his dissent of this proposal, newly elected board member George McKenna correctly stated that “this meeting is for the public not the board members.” If given the opportunity to replace Ms. Galatzan I will back up this sentiment and fight for the following:

  • A rotating meeting schedule that gives parents, students and teachers a chance to participate in board members. There is no perfect time where all people can have the opportunity to participate so these meetings should not be held according to one set schedule. They should be held at different times, including weekends and evenings.

  • Changing the meeting space to one that can accommodate the people who want to participate. Even with an inconvenient time, the board room is too small to fit everyone who wants to attend and people are often left waiting outside for hours. A room with an occupancy limit of 155 is not adequate for a district with 640,000 students.

  • A rotating meeting site that gives stakeholders equal access to the proceedings. There are seven districts within the LAUSD. The stakeholders of each district should have equal access to the board.