“Pursuant to Gov. Code §6254(f), the records you have requested are exempt from disclosure.”
-LAUSD, Office of the General Counsel (OGC)
The LAUSD Inspector General’s (IG) office seemed confident in their audit of the Food Services division when they stated in their draft report “that the program is currently at a minimum being mismanaged and at worst being consistently abused.” The fact that this was a “confidential personnel matter” did not stop the District from releasing this report to the press, which then said that the Food Services Director David Binkle had been suspended with pay. Actually, like those in “Teacher Jail” Binkle was actually “re-assigned,” literally under house arrest. During work hours he was forbidden by the District to leave his house as he waited for inspectors. He reports that those inspectors never showed up to hear his side of the story. It was unclear why these investigators had not concluded their investigation before writing a report and publically dragging an honored employee’s name through the mud. In February, the IG said they expedited the audit “to be completed by early summer.” With this deadline long past, the District said on Thursday that it is still “ongoing.”Read more
“As required under California Government Code section 6253, the District will make a determination within 10 days as to whether or not a request is seeking records that are publicly disclosable and, if so, to provide the estimated date that the records will be made available."
-LAUSD, August 4, 2015
While running for a seat on the School Board I had the opportunity to give voice to the victims of bullying by the LAUSD. I listened to the stories of those in Teacher’s Jail and repeatedly heard about the abuses of power within the District. Every time I wrote an article a voice in the back of my head reminded me that this could be the time that a teacher was actually at fault, but that never happened. In retrospect, that makes sense; clear cut cases of wrongdoing do not require an extended stay of paid leave while the district conducts an “investigation.”Read more
“I felt bad collecting my salary while being forced to sit home without doing the work.”
Last December, David Binkle’s paid suspension was announced with typical LAUSD double speak. At the same time the press office was stating that he had “been temporarily reassigned pending the conclusion of an internal investigation into a CONFIDENTIAL personnel matter,” (emphasis mine) a leaked copy of the Inspector General’s draft audit stated that they “found that the program is currently at a minimum being mismanaged and at worst being consistently abused.” While the district initially stated that the investigation was likely to “wrap up in late spring or early summer,” last month they stated “they could not estimate when the investigation might be concluded.” In the meantime, Binkle was being paid his $152,000 salary not to work, a situation that was unfair to both Binkle and the taxpayers.Read more
-LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines
When good teachers are put in Teacher Jail, students lose. Without a coach, they lose ability to compete. Weeks before their AP test they lose valuable study time with an experienced instructor. As their teacher sits at home, they lose access to an award winning music program. With an extracurricular coordinator denied access to school grounds, they lose a popular talent show. They lose a chance to fall in love with the Shakespeare and the ability to take potentially life changing trips.
Teacher Jail is also draining scarce resources from the classroom. The program is a financial black hole that pays teachers not to teach while also paying substitutes to take their place in the classroom. The district does not even let the two coordinate to reduce the harm done to the students and their education. Now facing a pending lawsuit against Teacher Jail, the students will lose again when money that would be better spent on education is spent to defend the viability and legality of Teacher Jail. The district has already hired an outside law firm to mount a defense. Instead of shutting down Teacher Jail, they are conducting a costly investigation (perhaps “witch hunt” is a better description) in an attempt to find anything that could justify their removing an award-winning teacher from the classroom. Meanwhile the LAUSD is laying off teachers, has staff to student ratios that are too high and school libraries that remain closed.Read more
Throughout the United States, veteran teachers are being targeted. Facebook has story after story about veteran teachers, many times an award winning teacher, being targeted by their school administrations.
These school administrators have received the word from on high—the downtown administrators—to get the veteran teachers to leave.
In LAUSD they are put into teacher jails. In other districts the veteran teachers receive poor reviews, the most difficult students, and all kinds of pressure from the administration--all designed to get them to quit before they receive either full or partial lifetime benefits upon retirement.Read more
Too often, a teacher in the LAUSD’s Teacher Jail system is doomed to a career ending sentence if they cannot generate the publicity that will force the district’s hand. When district bullies removed Greg Schiller from the classroom because of a science project that they did not understand, students protested and the media noticed. Schiller’s suspension was ended after two months, but not before the fencing team he coached was forced to cancel their participation in a competition and AP students were deprived of study time. After leading class trips to France and the White House, choir teacher Iris Stevenson was placed in Teacher Jail. “Parents, students and community members rallied” and she was released back to the classroom, but only after students missed her instruction for an entire semester. Stuart Lutz was returned to the classroom with his only discipline being a “‘conference memo’, in which an administrator explained what Lutz did incorrectly and how to avoid such problems in the future.” Lutz was also the beneficiary of pressure on the district, including an online petition, from people who did not believe that improprieties in field trip paperwork and fundraisers are adequate reasons to remove an art teacher from the classroom for eight months.
Until last month it appeared that Rafe Esquith was headed down the same path. After being placed in teacher jail in March for “telling a joke about nudity in Mark Twain’s ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,’” publicity was building about this teacher’s stay in purgatory. Several media outlets were covering the story and a well-attended protest was held before the School Board. He had also secured the services of a high powered law firm who “told the district to publicly apologize and let him return to work or be sued.”Read more