Cortines proposing to overhaul LA Unified Education Service Centers

LAUSD Superintedent Ramon Cortines


Superintendent Ramon Cortines is at it again: More restructuring!

This time he is proposing an overhaul of LA Unified’s Education Service Centers, regional resource offices that facilitate school operations, implement directives from the board at the school level, and serve as parent outreach centers. The plan includes an expansion of the centers to six from five regional offices.

Earlier this month, Cortines informed the school board he intends re-draw the ESC borders to cover more “geographically based” areas for the 2015-16 school year, and eliminate the Intensive Support and Innovation Center that worked across the district.

The ISIC office was created under former Superintendent John Deasy in an effort to provide more targeted services for students with unique needs, everything from special needs services to gifted and talented instruction. The district’s pilot schools were also placed under the purview of ISIC. In all, it now serves 149 schools and approximately 100,000 students throughout LA Unified.

It is unclear how Cortines intends to provide these services within the local ESCs, whether each area center will hire new coordinators or if those duties will be taken over by existing administrators. The district did not respond to requests for comment.

Regional Superintendent Tommy Chang has been at the helm of ISIC since his appointment by Deasy, but is leaving the district at the end of the year to take over as superintendent of Boston Public Schools.

Cortines’ plan is not final; it requires a vote by board to go forward.

In a letter to the board, Cortines said, “While I understand the thinking behind the creation of a non-geographically-based ESC like the ISIC, I believe the District’s current organization creates unnecessary complications for principals and parents.”

One problem under the existing structure, he says, is that “some schools on the same campus may report to different ESCs, which can lead to confusion when issues arise that impact the entire campus.” Dismantling ISIC, he said, solves that issue.

He also argued that the reorganization would produce a more equitable distribution of students and schools among the ESCs by splitting the North office into two service centers, Northeast and Northwest. The new map would also create two smaller ESCs in the southeast and central regions of the district, two of the highest needs areas within LA Unified.

“The improved balance of students and schools among ESCs would provide each center with a more manageable span of control,” Cortines said.

* Corrects earlier version that said a vote by the board is required. It is not.


Report finds lack of proper fraud oversight at charters in state

Magnolia-Charter-Schools-governanceCalifornia is extremely vulnerable to fraud at charter schools and as a result can expect to lose $100 million in wasted tax money in 2015, a new report released today finds.

The report from the Center for Popular Democracy, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and Public Advocates found that there are “structural oversight weaknesses” in the state’s charter system.

Among the problems it found:

  • Oversight depends heavily on self-reporting by charter schools.
  • General auditing techniques alone do not uncover fraud.
  • Oversight bodies lack adequate staffing to detect and eliminate fraud.

California has the largest number of charter schools in the nation — 1,184, according to the California Charter Schools Association. The number in LA Unified grew this year to 285, 231 of which are independent.

The report recommends a few solutions, including requiring oversight agencies, such as the State Comptroller’s Office and Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team, to conduct audits on charter schools once every three years, and not only when requested to do so.


“There’s no proactive system for auditing California’s charter schools by state officials… They wait until someone has whisteblowers come forward and the media has put something out, but there’s not a regular system for auditing schools,” said Kyle Serrette, director of education at the Center for Popular Democracy, in a call with reporters.

The report stated that over $81 million in fraud has been uncovered at charter schools to date, but that it is likely the “tip of the iceberg” and estimated the state will lose $100 million this year alone to waste, fraud and mismanagement at charters.

“We have a situation where we are losing millions of dollars to fraud in the charter sector every single year. We now know what the problem is,” Serrette said, adding that the backers of the report will be pushing state lawmakers for policy changes based on the findings of the report.

Serrette also said there are other states that do a better job of applying rigorous oversight of charters.

“Pennsylvania is a great example where the auditor general audits all of Pennsylvania’s charter schools every three to five years and the districts, which tend to be the authorizers there, they do the same thing,” Serrette said.

Click here to read the full report.


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Hillary Clinton caught between reformers and teacher unions

New York Times logo

By Maggie Haberman | The New York Times

The last time she ran for president, Hillary Rodham Clinton did not have to take a position on the Common Core, teacher evaluations or Race to the Top.

She won the endorsement of one of the nation’s largest teachers’ unions in 2007 after deploring the use of standardized tests and the underfunding of the No Child Left Behind law by President George W. Bush’s administration.

Now, as she prepares for a likely second run at the White House, Mrs. Clinton — who largely avoided domestic policy when she was secretary of state — is re-entering the fray like a Rip Van Winkle for whom the terrain on education standards has shifted markedly, with deep new fissures opened up in the Democratic Party.

Click here to read the full story.

Morning Read: 4 years to fully implement Common Core in CA

Half of state teachers not ready to teach Common Core, top educator says
The president of the state Board of Education believes it will take at least four years to fully roll out the new standards in state schools. KPCC

Inequality in California’s K-12 schools
It’s been just over 30 years since war was declared on America’s public schools. San Diego Free Press

Literacy startups race to get news
LightSail Education has gained traction in several big districts across the country, including LA Unified. Ed Surge

Dates for new Common Core assessments vary by district
Between now and mid-June, approximately 3.2 million California students will take new online tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Ed Source

What makes a good teacher?
New York is considering a plan to tie teacher evaluations to student test scores. New York Times

UTLA moving ahead with boycott in face of district threats

UTLA rally at Grand Park

UTLA rally at Grand Park

Despite threats by LA Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines to withhold wages, the teachers union, UTLA, is urging teachers to boycott faculty meetings tomorrow at schools across the district.

“The Superintendent has threatened to dock the pay of employees who participate.  We know what we are doing is right, and this scare tactic will not stop us,” union officials said in a statement today.

The boycotts are part of the union’s escalating actions in its campaign for “Schools LA Students Deserve,” a platform that includes reducing class sizes, hiring more school counselors, nurses and full-time librarians; and winning an 8.5 percent pay raise.

Contract negotiations between the district and UTLA have stalled, and the two sides are headed to their first mediation session Wednesday.

In a letter to district employees last week, Cortines said he reminded UTLA “that boycotting faculty meetings, or engaging in any other forms of work stoppage, are unlawful and in violation” of state regulations. He also called the boycotts “irresponsible.”

But UTLA contends members have boycotted faculty meetings “many times in past years” and has refused to back down. Teachers plan to rally at campuses after school tomorrow at 2:30.

Teacher shortage around state leading to ‘employees’ market’

teacher prep stats

(Credit: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing)

As LA Unified is currently laying off hundreds of teachers and other employees to deal with a looming budget crisis, there is perhaps one piece of good news for any teacher getting a pink slip: it has become an “employees’ market” for teachers in the state.

Due to a growing shortage, many large districts are struggling to hire enough qualified teachers. The shortage is due in part to the number of students enrolled in teacher preparation programs in the state being cut in half from 2008 to 2013. The stark numbers were cited in an October report by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

In 2008, when the recession hit and thousands of teacher began getting laid off in the state, there were over 42,000 students studying to become teachers. By 2013, the number was down to 19,933, the data shows.

The Sacramento Bee offered some theories as to the current teacher shortage beyond student enrollment in prep programs:

The inclination is to think that there are thousands of teachers who were let go during the recession and who are ready and willing to fill these jobs. Unfortunately, few younger, less-experienced teachers hung around after seeing their jobs disappear; many chose different careers.

The shortage has led other districts like San Francisco Unified to struggle to hire enough teachers.

“It’s become an employees’ market versus an employers’ market,” Scott Gaiber, San Francisco Unified’s director of certificated staffing and recruitment, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “There is a lot more competition for talent.”

Substitute teachers are in high demand as a result of the shortage. One sub told the Sacramento Bee that he recently received 15 requests to work San Juan Unified School District classrooms on a Friday.

In an op-ed in northern California’s Press DemocratSteven D. Herrington, Sonoma County’s superintendent of schools, proposed at least one possible solution to the crisis:

“Tuition fees at state colleges and universities could be waived for the fifth year of teacher preparation education for students who successfully complete the program and secure employment in a California public school,” Herrington wrote.





Dozens rally in support of Paul Revere teacher accused of racism

Paul Revere charterThe details of a lawsuit filed last week were shocking: a teacher at Paul Revere Charter Middle School and Magnet Center in Brentwood allegedly used offensive racial slurs in class, and said that black people were not smart.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a mixed-race student at the school and led to the removal the teacher, Steven Carnine, from the classroom while the district investigates the claims.

But now a group of students and parents are crying foul as they participated in a rally today attended by dozens in support of Carnine, NBC Los Angeles reported. The supporters said the teacher did not make the comments he is accused of or that they were taken out of context.

An online petition asking that Carnine not be fired has been signed by more than 600 people. In the comments section of the petition, some students who said they were in the class in question state that Carnine is innocent of the accusations.

“Mr. Carnine said that stereotypes were wrong, but sadly they are still in our world today,” said one poster identified as Katie T. “He was discussing these stereotypes with us in order to help us understand history and how different races were treated and sometimes still are. He said that SOME PEOPLE think that black people are not smart and only good at sports.”

Katie T. also wrote that Carnine did not use the “n-word” when talking about the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln, which the lawsuit claims he did.

“Mr. Carnine discussed how many people didn’t not like Lincoln, because they claimed he was an n-lover. He did not even use the word; he spelt it out and said ‘excuse my language, I really do not like using this word, but this is how harshly the African American people were treated,'” she wrote.

The claims of those in support of Carnine are in stark contrast to the details of the lawsuit, which accused him of using blunt, racially offensive language when also talking about Jews and Michael Brown, the black male who was shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri that set off a series of protests around the nation.

The lawsuit also claimed the school’s principal, Christopher Perdigao, ignored repeated complaints from the plaintiff’s parents.

LAUSD officials said they were reviewing the lawsuit.

“District policy is adamant that all students are to be treated with respect. The safety of students is L.A. Unified’s highest priority,” the district said in a statement, according to City News Service.

Successful appeal put teacher in LAUSD’s top 10 salary list

judgeThe release of salary records for all LA Unified employees by the Los Angeles Daily News on Friday produced a list of the district’s highest paid officials in 2014, with one apparent anomaly: an elementary school teacher.

While nine of the top ten earners are headquarters administrators, starting with former Superintendent John Deasy, who made $439,998 the year he was ousted, the odd name on the list is Jose Martinez, a grade school teacher who earned $235,329.

Martinez was removed from his job by the district in November 2011, though it’s unclear under what circumstances. He fought the decision, appealing to the Office of Administrative Hearings and the Commission on Professional Competence, which sided with Martinez and ordered the district to reinstate him and the salary he would have otherwise been paid.

According to a statement from LA Unified’s legal department, “The District unsuccessfully appealed the decision to reinstate the teacher, entitling Mr. Martinez to reinstatement and approximately $164,564.92 in back pay.”

The lump sum covered unpaid earnings from “November 2011 to March 2014, which explains the unusually high salary reporting in 2014,” district officials said.

In case you missed it, here are the top 10 paid LA Unified employees in 2014, courtesy of the Daily News:

John Deasy, superintendent of schools: $439,998

Michelle King, deputy superintendent: $282,792

David Holmquist, general counsel: $264,407

Mark Hovatter, chief facilities executive: $248,841

Jose Martinez, elementary teacher: $235,329

Megan Reilly, chief financial officer: $231,648

Janalyn Glymph, personnel director: $204,331

Matthew Hill, chief strategy officer: $203,743

Gregory Garcia, director, facilities project E: $200,904

Vivian Ekchian, chief labor negotiator: $199,034

Commentary: HBO’s hipster show ‘lies’ about charter schools, race


By Joshua Leibner | Salon

Michelle Pierson, a 40-ish mother of two, is in a state of confusion over her direction in life and finds herself wandering down the main drag of her gentrifying, hip Northeast Los Angeles neighborhood. She hears a confident voice coming from Eagle Rock City Hall that entices her in.

Inside, David Garcia, a handsome, charismatic Latino, is speaking stirringly to a group of concerned parents. He says, “There’s like bird shit all over the place — I mean you got kids eating five-day-old sloppy joes. Our public school system is broken. I don’t think we can fix the old schools but I’ll tell you what we can do. We can build a new one. Isn’t a great school no more than a box and an inspired teacher inside of it? We need a great charter school here in Eagle Rock. Let’s create a place for our children to flourish. There’s a big empty hole in our community. And if we don’t do anything about it, our kids are going to be more disenfranchised and lost than we are now.”

Michelle is entranced, and suddenly her life has found a purpose.

Charter school dogma has made it to the Big Time: It just got its own soapbox on the Duplass brothers’ HBO Sunday night series “Togetherness.”

Click here to read the full story.

Morning Read: LAUSD releases salary info for all employees

Former LAUSD superintendent Deasy’s pay nearly $440,000 last year
LA Unified’s former superintendent, John Deasy, collected more than any other employee last year, $439,998. San Gabriel Valley Tribune

LAUSD educators typically earned $75,504 last year
The typical Los Angeles Unified educator collected $75,504 in 2014, according to pay records. Whitter Daily News

Granada Hills wins state Academic Decathlon
Granada Hills Charter High has won the California 2015 Academic Decathlon title in a weekend competition in Sacramento. Los Angeles Times

Brown’s adult ed plan gives new authority to outsiders
School officials are worried that core adult education services may not receive priority under the governor’s proposed finance structure. SI&A Cabinet Report

Cuomo fights rating system in which few teachers are bad
Around the state, administrators, teachers and parents have been protesting the governor’s proposals. New York Times

How one California superintendent changed troubled schools
Long Beach Superintendent Christopher Steinhauser credits his team more than his own leadership for a decade’s worth of improvement. The Hechinger Report

Stoner parents challenging LAUSD for extending co-location deadline

icef public schools logoYet again, LA Unified finds itself in the soup because of a computer malfunction.

Friends of Stoner, a group fighting to block the co-location of another charter school at Stoner Avenue Elementary in Palms, has met with lawyers to discuss legal options against LA Unified for extending the application deadline by three days.

Frustrated Stoner parents, opposed to sharing the campus with nearby ICEF Vista Elementary Academy, contend that the district does not have authority to change the state-set Nov 1 deadline without permission from the Department of Education, which it appears district officials did not solicit.

The district prolonged the submission window for charter schools seeking classroom space on traditional public school campuses after the online application program went down on the day applications were due. This is the second year the district has accepted electronic applications.

“The deadline is the deadline and you can’t arbitrarily change it by three days not for ICEF and not for anyone,” Adam Benitez, president of the group told LA School Report. “What authority do they have to supersede state regulations? “

“The district is basically saying, regulations be damned, we’re going to do whatever we want!” Benitez said. He said the group has already contacted the office of the state Attorney General and is awaiting a response.

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Schmerelson ‘feeling pretty good’ after making District 3 runoff

Scott Schmerelson

Scott Schmerelson


Scott Schmerelson says he is “feeling pretty good” these days, and the longtime LA Unified educator, counselor and principal certainly has lots of reasons for it.

Schmerelson emerged from a logjam of five challengers to finish second in the March 3 school board primary election, good enough to make the May 19 runoff against District 3 incumbent Tamar Galatzan. She finished first with 40.2 percent of the vote (as of officials results announced today) but short of the majority needed to avoid the runoff.

Schmerelson moved on with with 20.4 percent, well ahead of Ankur Patel (12.8), Elizabeth Badger (10.8), Carl Petersen (10) and Filiberto Gonzalez (5.8).

But those also rans could become important factors in the runoff. With their support amounting to more than 40 percent of the overall vote, two of them are supporting Schmerelson in the runoff, and the two others say they are considering it.

“I invited them to lunch to talk and to kind of meet and thank each other in doing such a good job,” Schmerelson told LA School Report, noting that Gonzalez was not there but that they spoke on the phone later. “We all agreed that we were working for the same cause and were united. In other words, they were going to throw their votes and voters towards me, and they would encourage their people to be on my side.”

Official public support or endorsements have yet to materialize from all the challengers, but it does appear that none of them plans to endorse Galatzan or work against him.

Patel  said he plans to endorse Schmerelson, and Petersen has expressed his support in a press release and on social media. Badger said she is considering an endorsement, calling Schmerelson a “great candidate,” and Gonzalez said he is going to be talking to Schmerelson soon about a potential endorsement. Gonzalez also said on Twitter that he will not endorse Galatzan.

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Commentary: New book examines ‘social air bags’ for rich kids


By Doyle McManus |  Los Angeles Times

What’s the difference between growing up in an affluent family and growing up poor in America?

Yes, upper-middle-class kids have more money. But they also have more attentive parents, stable families, good teachers — and even more friends and acquaintances.

As a result, well-off kids have one more advantage, according to Harvard social scientist Robert D. Putnam: They have air bags in their lives.

Social air bags offer the same kind of protection as car air bags: In a collision, you walk away unharmed. When affluent kids stumble, a parent or someone else often jumps in to help — by hiring a lawyer, paying for therapy, making sure contraceptives are available or merely finding a tutor.

Click here to read the full commentary.

Morning Read: Parent sues LAUSD for teacher’s alleged racial slurs

Parent sues LAUSD after teacher reportedly used racially charged comments
A Brentwood parent is suing the school district, charging that a male teacher made offensive and racially charged comments in his class. CBS Los Angeles

66 California teams competing in 3-day academic decathlon
Twenty teams from Los Angeles-area schools will be in Sacramento Friday to compete in the three-day California Academic Decathlon. City News Service

Accusations of sex crimes unnerve Venice High School
Since the arrests of a dozen students, members of the Venice High School community have been doing some soul-searching. New York Times

In 23 states, richer districts get more local funding than poorer districts
In 23 states, state and local governments are together spending less per pupil in the poorest school districts. Washington Post

What the Common Core tests promised, and what they will actually deliver
Four years and over $360 million later, new Common Core tests are here. The Hechinger Report

Parent-trigger showdowns loom nationwide
Proponents of the controversial education laws target Tennessee, Texas. The Hechinger Report

LA Unified’s new Arts Equity Index finds ‘art poverty’ in district

Dance students at the Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts

Dance students at the Ramone C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts

LA Unified officials yesterday unveiled results of the Arts Equity Index, the most comprehensive arts inventory the district has ever taken, and the findings show the district has a bad case of “art poverty.”

Very few of the district’s 650,000 students have access to robust and uninterrupted arts programs from elementary school through high school, the index found. And the poorest kids have it the worst.

“What we find ourselves doing sometimes is putting the fewest amount of dollars in the schools where the students need it the most,” Rory Pullens, the district’s head of arts education, told the audience at a “State of the Arts” event hosted by Arts for LA at Berendo Middle School.

Pullens, a charismatic speaker who called himself “a theater kid,” combed through the results of the Index and LA Unified’s declining support for the arts for over an hour, keeping the audience in rapt attention despite the dismal data.

The Index measures student access to arts instruction using a filter of 12 factors that include local income levels, the number of foster youth and English Language Learners enrolled at a school, existing arts programs and professional development for teachers in arts pedagogy.

Based on the data, a school can fall into one of six categories that measure availability of arts education: non-existent, basic, emerging, developing, strong, and excelling. The outcomes of the index were calculated using principal’s responses to a survey. In all, 639 schools participated.

Sixty percent of elementary schools received an “emerging” ranking or lower on the index, which rated each school on a point system ranging from zero (non-existent) to 62 (“excelling”). Only 13 schools register as “excelling.”

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Westchester wins Aspen Challenge; $100k to fix LAUSD instruments

school report buzzA team from Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnet won first place in the 2015 Aspen Challenge: Los Angeles competition at last Saturday, beating out teams from 15 other schools.

The challenge asked students to propose solutions to global problems, and Westchester’s 10-member team took on water sustainability awareness in Los Angeles, according to a LA Unified press release. 

The team will showcase its solution in at the 2015 Aspen Ideas Festival this July in Colorado.

“This was an adventurous journey for each team,” said Brenda Manuel, administrator at LAUSD’s Parent Community Student Services Branch, in a statement. “Each member brought his/her talent, creativity and dedication and in the process, gained a new voice as a leader.”

School Experience Survey

LA Unified is asking students, parents and school staff to rate schools through a new poll, the School Experience Survey.

“The School Experience Survey asks important questions about school quality, such as: what opportunities do students have to be leaders at their school; how welcoming and collaborative is the environment; how clean and safe is the campus,” a district press release said. “The deadline for responding to the survey is April 10, and the District hopes for total participation. L.A. Unified measures its performance against previous surveys, which have taken place for seven years. In addition, the information helps mark the District’s progress toward federal goals.”

Susan Steelman Bragato Scholarship Award

The California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) awarded five high school seniors with the Susan Steelman Bragato Scholarship Award at its 22nd Annual California Charter Schools Conference, which is taking place this week in Sacramento. One of the winners is an LAUSD student from Academia Avance.

The award, which includes a $2,000 prize, honors students who demonstrate a passion for community service while reaching their educational goals.

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Commentary: Fewer being inspired to join teaching ranks


By Stephen Mucher | Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles teachers and school district administrators are doing battle once again. Contract talks broke down last month after 18 rounds of negotiations on raises, healthcare costs, class size, employee evaluation and charter schools. Mediation begins next week. Strike language and recriminations grow louder.

Given the potential long-term impact of any settlement, it is a shame that a major stakeholder can’t be at the negotiating table. Namely, college graduates considering whether to pursue a teaching career.

Rocio Garcia, 24, is one such person. She struggled in a Southeast Los Angeles high school known for its dropout rate and overcrowding, but surrounded herself with educators who recognized her academic potential.

Click here to read the full commentary.

Cheating parents, MISIS conspire to slow down LAUSD’s gifted program

gifted and talentedLA Unified officials are close to clearing a two-year backlog of assessments aimed at identifying thousands of students who would qualify for the highly-prized Gifted and Talented Education program.

Why has it taken so long?

For one reason, says the district, parents of many gifted students proved they, too, are gifted — at cheating. For another, the new student tracking system known as MISIS showed yet again how it could bollix up a program to the detriment of students, teachers and schools.

By next month the GATE staff of 19 is expected to complete its review of 5,622 students who had been identified as possible candidates for the program in 2013-2014, in addition to any new referrals from the current school year. Overall, about 70,000 students are enrolled in the program.

“We’re almost all caught up,” said Megan Reilly, Chief Financial Officer, fully relieved now that Superintendent Ramon Cortines has allocated $35,000 for Saturday assessments to help alleviate the bottleneck.

The logjam began in the 2012-2013 school year after Wynne Wong-Cheng, a district GATE specialist, said her department noticed irregular patterns in the results of the district’s most widely-used and efficient test for gifted students called the “Raven’s Progressive Matrices,” which measures intelligence by assessing how a child learns.

She found that the district had many gifted students. Maybe too many.

“When you start seeing an entire classroom above the 99th percentile, or when you’re looking at statistics, and it’s not being aligned with what we’re supposed to be finding, then we have to look deeper,” she told LA School Report.

That deeper look was not good.

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Morning Read: No criminal charges so far at Venice High

Venice high school sex allegations not so clear-cut
Authorities acknowledged Wednesday that they are still trying to sort out exactly what happened and that no criminal charges have been brought. Los Angeles Times

Schools in need to get more LAUSD arts funding
Some LA Unified students in poorer schools are short-changed when it comes to art education, according to preliminary results from survey of principals. KPCC

What if education reform got it all wrong in the first place?
It’s been just over 30 years since war was declared on America’s public schools. Pacific Standard

New funding law creates disparity among low-income schools
There are 200,000 high-need students in 677 schools throughout the state who don’t draw maximum dollars under the formula. Ed Source

School Medicaid claims rejected again
Federal administrators of a school-based Medicaid program appeared this week to issue a final rejection of some $460 million in claims. SI&A Cabinet Report

JUST IN: Cortines warns UTLA to abandon boycott of faculty meetings

Ray Cortines

Ray Cortines


LA Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines warned the teachers union, UTLA, today that urging its members to boycott three upcoming faculty meetings violates the terms of a directive from the Public Employees Employment Board.

In a harshly-worded statement Cortines said attending the meetings is “a required professional duty under the LAUSD-UTLA contract agreement” and a boycott would violate a 1990 directive issued by PERB that arose out of “previous unlawful boycotts of required duties.”

That order, he asserted, “still holds today.”

Cortines’s warning came in response to a “Chapter talking points” memo dated March 10 posted to UTLA’s website that states, “Every UTLA Area will be holding afterschool meetings for chapter chairs and activists to plan faculty meeting boycotts in March and April and ensure 100% participation. The meetings are expected to last from 60 to 90 minutes.”

In addition to the press release, Cortines made the same points in separate letters to UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl and to LA Unified employees.

“Nothing could be more detrimental to the extraordinary educational progress that this District has made in recent years,” Cortines said in the statement. “As we await the involvement of a mediator in negotiations, I urge UTLA to stop this irresponsible and unlawful effort, and instead work with the District to complete negotiations so that all employees can devote their entire focus to the District’s core mission of educating students and ensuring student safety.”

The union responded to Cortines late this afternoon with a statement that said the boycotts represent another of its “escalating actions” to achieve negotiating demands.

“UTLA members have boycotted faculty meetings many times in past years and we have no intention of backing down now because of threats by Cortines to retaliate against employees who participate,” the statement said.

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