Two issues that have the drawn LA Unified school board into unanticipated controversy move into the spotlight tomorrow when the board convenes its regular meeting for November.
One is the public profile of Board President Richard Vladovic, as he awaits a consideration of a censure motion from Tamar Galatzan – the first motion of its kind in LA Unified board history. Vladovic has been accused of verbal and sexual harassment by former co-workers. He has publicly apologized for being abrasive toward colleagues but has denied all other charges.
The motion requires support from at least one other board member to move to a full vote, otherwise the resolution falls, and a similar measure cannot be brought forward for six months. So far, Galatzan has no co-sponsor.
The other big issue is the future of the billion dollar iPad program, with conflicting resolutions from the board’s two Monicas – Ratliff and Garcia – that could go a long way toward determining whether district’s Common Core technology project extends Phase 1 of the iPads with iPads or other digital devices.
A third approach has been offered for consideration by deputy superintendent Jaime Aquino.
Ratliff’s resolution aims to prolong the first phase of the tablet rollout through the end of the school year, while evaluators assess the usefulness of the devices and their impact on learning. It also urges the district to launch a new pilot program, distributing laptop computers to ninth graders while conducting studies on the use of other devices and software curriculum in the district.
Ratliff’s proposal would withhold the start of a Phase 2 until the board votes in June or July 2014 whether to proceed with iPads or other digital devices. Under a recent proposal from Superintendent John Deasy, Phase 2 would begin with iPads distributed to 36 schools, starting in January 2014.
Garcia has an entirely different approach. The former school board president, who last year lead the charge to buy a tablet computer for every student, wants the board to forge ahead with tablet distribution. Her resolution acknowledges concerns by other board members over the iPad program but asks that Phase 2 moves forward, pioneering the endeavor in her district alone.
Aquino’s proposal is to continue the iPad program under current plans, asking the board to allow district staff to submit the timeline to the Bond Oversight Committee for its approval.
The board meeting promises to be another long one, with 43 agenda items that deal with a wide spectrum of issues, including charter schools, magnet schools, personnel, budget and capital improvements.
Two other notable items might generate rigorous debate:
Steve Zimmer is raising the issue of re-staffing Special Education and Childhood Education divisions, which reduced staff to help the district balance its budget and avoid layoffs. The measure aims at addressing a shortage of certified Special Education employees by “re-instituting a career ladder training partnership and other tuition reimbursement programs.”
Galatzan and Ratliff have introduced a resolution that would recalibrate how federal Title 1 funds are distributed in the district by lowering the qualification threshold for eligibility, to 40 percent of students receiving free and reduced-cost lunch.
*Clarifies proposal dealing with future of iPads.
Previous Posts: Teacher union survey finds mixed results for LA Unified iPad program; LA Unified Board sees a digital future without Apple iPads; A censure of Richard Vladovic could further fracture LA Unified board.