Zimmer, other LA Unified board members offer their thanks

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 8.37.41 AM

Steve Zimmer joins a pre-Thanksgiving meal.

Several members of the LA Unified board are using their websites to reflect on what they’re thankful for with the long Thanksgiving weekend just ahead.

Board President Steve Zimmer focused on education in his newsletter.

He writes: “The recent attacks on liberty and peace in Paris, Mali, and across the Middle East shake our hearts and our spirit. Here at home, the violence that has afflicted South Los Angeles also gives us pause and reflect. We remember each young soul lost in the terror that has become so commonplace that it rarely makes the news. But every life is sacred and for the school children who awaken to yellow police tape and altars in the streets the toll is every bit as devastating.

“Even as we remember and as we reflect, we are grateful for the blessings of family, community and of mission. Our children’s dreams demand that we look all around us and recognize the many who support and elevate hope in these difficult times.”

He thanks teachers and the entire LA Unified family, with a special shoutout to the outgoing superintendent, saying his “return to LA Unified at 83 years young is one of the greatest acts of public service this generation has seen.”

Board member Mónica García collected Thanksgiving messages from others for her newsletter, including one from Cortines. “I’m thankful for all of the progress that we at LAUSD have made together over the past year. There is much to celebrate and much to get done,” Cortines said. She collected messages from three Local District superintendents, chief deputy superintendent Michelle King, principals, parents, teachers and even a school bus driver.”

She also includes a message from a district school bus driver Orlando Perez, who said, “As we come to the holidays we tend to realize how life can be so precious. At this time I start realizing on all the matters I should be thankful for, one of these is my family. I can always count on them. Secondly, my job, not only has it provided me with a stable life, it is now giving me the opportunity to get a greater education so I can promote, and last but not least my friends.”

Board member Richard Vladovic has a cartoon of a wise old owl offering a “Happy Thanksgiving” that vaguely resembles him on his Facebook page.


Click here to sign up for the LA School Report newsletter, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


LA Unified in final preparations for approaching El Niño

ElNinoSchoolFloodAnd now for the weather forecast:

More than $17 million in roof repairs still need to be completed at LAUSD schools before El Niño arrives in January.

The district also needs to replace aging equipment at the Emergency Operations Center at a cost of $225,000 a year, and it will cost about $5 per student to keep emergency supplies in good condition each year—that’s another $3.5 million.

A simple one-time spend of $56,000 could get a weather alert radio for every school.

Those wether-related needs all came from the district’s Emergency Services and Facilities Services divisions in a presentation this week to the Successful School Climate Committee. Officials said they expect the second worst storm system to hit the area since they tracked El Niño storms.

Deputy superintendent Michelle King introduced the report to the committee as a “timely presentation about El Niño, what it is, and why we should be worried.” After hearing some of the plans and what needed to be done, she suggested that one of the top priorities would be to get the weather alert radios in every school.

Jill Barnes, of LA Unified’s school operations emergency services, said, “It’s hard to imagine in a few months we will be in large deluge of rain. We know that it’s on track to be second largest since recording them in 1950.”

The district has already identified schools that may encounter problems because they are near potential landslide areas or in areas that flood easily. Plans are underway to move some schools to different locations in severe weather.

Continue reading

LA Unified joins forces to stop commercial child sex crimes


Monica Garcia reacts to the gruesome report.

As the FBI agent played a video of a 16-year-old caught in a sex ring in Los Angeles, the audience of the Successful School Climate: Progressive Discipline and Safety Committee yesterday remained hushed. Some wiped tears from their eyes.

LAUSD Chief Deputy Superintendent Michelle King reviewed the list of local schools where such crimes occurred and she she was shocked to spot an elementary school among them.

For the past year, LA Unified administrators have joined the fight to stop child sex trafficking with a group of 60 Los Angeles agencies called the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) Task Force.

“This is a very difficult topic, it makes us uncomfortable, afraid, repulsed, it’s not something we connect to our students,” said committee chair Mónica García. “I’m proud that LAUSD said ‘yes’ again to getting involved in the program.” Garcia said early next year she will ask the school board to support an update to the district’s child abuse policy to include focusing on commercial sexual exploitation of children.

“I want to be that village for our young people and educate ourselves and empower ourselves to be another level of lifeline,” she said. “The community helps ourselves by knowing more and getting the facts and it’s not going away just because you don’t know.”

LAUSD intervention coordinator Holly Priebe-Diaz said district officials will soon be adding information to their annual spring child abuse training for principals. She said she will ask the principals then to share the information with teachers.

“I thought I heard everything,” Priebe-Diaz said, until she attended conferences and training about how prevalent the problem was in the United States, and especially Los Angeles.

Continue reading

After hot debate, LAUSD board refines superintendent criteria

SteveZimmer8After 90 minutes of contentious debate, the LAUSD school board agreed on a list of desired characteristics for the superintendent candidates they will begin interviewing.

The discussion ran the gamut from the definition of the word “bold” to whether the members wanted someone with experience in an “urban environment.”

Ultimately, the one-page list of desired characteristics they approved is only a template, more guidelines than a mandate. The list is designed to help the search firm, Hazard, Young Attea and Associates, find suitable candidates to be interviewed but will not keep candidates from consideration if they don’t meet all the criteria.

“We won’t take someone out because they do not meet all the characteristics on this document,” said search firm president Hank Gmitro, adding, “The idea behind the critieria is to find the ideal person, and as we look at resumes, we will assess and match them against that criteria and see how well they fit in that profile.”

From this point, the next major phases of the search process will be conducted largely in private. The board intends to develop questions for candidates as they come forward, leading to a list of finalists. The goal is to have a successor to Ramon Cortines in place by Jan. 1. Cortines, who is 83, said he intends to step down by the end of the year.

The 7-0 vote to approve the profile came after several members campaigned hard to insert or change language as they wrangled over additions they felt were ignored or underemphasized in the draft document before them.

Continue reading

A special LAUSD board meeting to define superintendent profile

superintendent searchThe LAUSD school board plans a meeting tomorrow afternoon to set the guidelines for a Leadership Profile that the board will us in picking the next school superintendent.

The meeting was called last week after the search firm of Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates presented its compilation of input from community forums, private interviews and surveys.

In open session starting at 1 p.m. at district headquarters, the school board will hear from the search firm again to discuss and define the desired characteristics of the next superintendent. Then, after hearing from any members of the public, the board will retreated into closed session. Any decisions made will be announced in public after the private meeting.

Earlier, at 9:30 tomorrow morning, the Budget, Facilities and Audit Committee will hear a report from district lawyers about the possibility of turning all of LA Unified in a charter school district.

Also on the committee’s agenda are a detailed report on the charter schools that LAUSD oversees, the budget of the charter schools division and how much it costs for the district to monitor the charter schools. The committee, chaired by Mónica Ratliff, plans to get a report on healthcare, pension and other post-employment benefits costs, which were cited in a report last week as major contributor to the financial stability of the district.

The Office of the Inspector General also plans to report about their collaboration with the Charter School Division and its costs.

At 4 p.m., Mónica García’s Successful School Climate: Progressive Discipline and Safety Committee plans to hear from an FBI agent, a probation director and other experts about a call to collaborate and stop the commercial exploitation of children. The committee also will get an update on the Ready to Learn: El Niño Preparedness in our Schools program from Chief Facilities director Mark Hovatter and Maintenance and Operations director Roger Finstad.

Click here to sign up for the LA School Report newsletter, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Search firm urges LAUSD board reach unity on next superintendent

superintendent search

In presenting a detailed accounting of community input for LA Unified’s superintendent search, the president of the search firm urged the seven board members to reach consensus on what they are looking for in their ideal candidate.

“You do not want to make this decision on four votes,” said Hank Gmitro of Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates. “You want to all agree.”

After the presentation, Gmitro told LA School Report it’s not unheard of for a school board—even one with such diversity as LAUSD’s—to agree on a single candidate. “It happens most of the time that the whole board agrees on one person,” Gmitro said.

After Gmitro and members of his team reviewed overall results of two weeks of 9,400 surveys and 120 community meetings, board President Steve Zimmer asked how the firm could possibly come up with candidates that have a proven track record on two strong, but nebulous characteristics that arose time and again from many participating in the feedback process: “equity” and “building trust.”

Gmitro said it’s a matter of “our vetting and your interviews and the kinds of actions they took and the results they achieved.”

By their questions to Gmitro and his team, the board members seem to be laying groundwork for finding a superintendent comfortable with fulfilling the priorities of the board, rather than bringing “an agenda” or “ego” to the position, a not-so-veiled reference to past superintendents.

“They want a humble person,” said Darline Robles, a member of the search team who summed up the characteristics that emerged from community forums. “Not someone who comes in whose ego is the forefront.”

Continue reading

‘Zimmo’ urges more participation in LAUSD superintendent search


Where’s Zimmo? Steve Zimmer appears at Vine Street Elementary in costume.

Where’s Zimmo?

Dressed as the popular “Where’s Waldo” red-and-white-striped children’s book character, LA Unified School Board President Steve Zimmer took to the Vine Street Elementary School twice today to encourage parents and teachers to get involved in the superintendent’s search.

He used his appearances to say he is extending the deadline for people to complete the school board survey that seeks community input.

Even here, his home school, he found parents who didn’t know about the survey. After attending more than half-a-dozen community forums, he said he was disappointed in the low turnouts. However, he has done his own canvassing.

“The most important revelation of the day is that we need to reach out more to high school students,” Zimmer said. “High school students, especially seniors, really care. We need to do that even if it takes more time.”

Zimmer, who has kept a tight control of the superintendent search and stayed in close contact with the search firm, said additional input probably won’t delay the process of them compiling all the data.

Continue reading

LAUSD board votes down special panel for superintendent search

Mónica García: her proposal was defeated.

Mónica García: her proposal was defeated.

As LA Unified school board president Steve Zimmer pleads for more involvement with the public for the superintendent search, the board voted down yet another effort to give the community greater influence in the selection process.

It was the latest example of how the district is urging the public to play a role in the selection process, but only to a point.

After a closed-door meeting today that included an update on the search, the school board returned to an open session and member Mónica García proposed forming a “confidential stakeholder committee consisting of seven people picked by each board member to represent each district.” Some community groups have been pushing for such input.

Right away, fellow board member Mónica Ratliff objected to the idea because she didn’t want “a secret committee, but wanted to make this open to everyone and introduce the finalists to the entire public. It should either be everyone or no one.”

Ratliff’s motion last week to have the finalists introduced to the community in a public forum failed in a 4-3 vote.

Garcia’s motion today failed 5-2, with only Ref Rodriguez agreeing with her.

Garcia said, “I wanted to make sure that public is clear that there are differences on the board, and we are welcoming the best superintendent possible and I believe that confidential stakeholders could provide input from non-elected people.”

At that, she walked out and decided not to participate in the Committee of the Whole meeting that followed. The committee is comprised of all board members in a setting that allows them to discuss issues but not vote for passage of any policy.

Continue reading

LAUSD’s ‘OUT for safe schools’ praised, expands to other districts

OUT for safe schools LGBTQTwo years after it was launched, an LA Unified program aimed at making schools safer for students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ) is being praised as it expands to eight other major districts around the country.

The “OUT for Safe Schools” program was created in 2013 by a school board resolution authored by board member Mónica García and calls on district staff and teachers to wear rainbow-colored badges on Oct. 11, which is National Coming Out Day. The badges identify them as an ally of LGBTQ students.

The program, with the aid of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, has seen around 30,000 LA Unified staff participate in each of the last two years. This year, districts in New YorkChicagoBostonSan FranciscoSan DiegoDuval County (Florida), Oakland and Washington, D.C. are adopting the program.

“Despite increased public acceptance of LGBT people in general, many school campuses remain toxic environments for LGBTQ students, contributing to higher rates of suicide, depression, homelessness and HIV infection,” Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean said in a statement. “We approached the LAUSD about developing this program to create visible adult allies throughout the entire school system, helping LGBTQ youth feel safe and supported while helping to deter would-be bullies. Now, wherever students look, they’re sure to see adults who proudly identify themselves as LGBTQ allies for students.”

Continue reading

LAUSD board has mixed views on foundations’ charters expansion plan

 Some think it is a threat to the public education system. Some welcome it. Members of the LA Unified school board have reacted quite differently to the announcement that the Broad, Keck and Walton Family Foundations are planning to expand the number of charter schools in the district to serve well beyond the 101,000 students (nearly 16 percent) now enrolled in the district’s 211 charters.

The role of charters has been a long-running battle among board members, and now it’s sure to intensify with so many more in the planning stage. Issues involving charters, such as applications for new ones, renewals for existing ones and operational transparency, are part of almost every monthly board meeting, and even before the first meeting of the new year, opinions remain divided, based on interviews with LA School Report and other media outlets.

The foundations revealed their expansion plans several weeks ago but provided few details. One unnamed source told the LA Times that the goal was to enroll as many as half of LA Unified’s students in charter schools within eight years.

One of the two new members, Ref Rodriguez, a charter school founder, said, “I believe we need to offer every family a high quality option in public education, and that can be a LAUSD school or a charter school. I also believe that we need leaders in this district to advocate for transformation. I always welcome ideas around innovative and life changing approaches to creating quality and excellence in every single school across this district.”

Rodriguez added, “Is this plan a bold idea? Maybe. I don’t know the particulars.  But, I want to stay open to hearing about bold options and ideas to get to excellence in all of our schools. And, I want those bold ideas to come from the grassroots – communities, students, and parents.  I want to hear directly from our communities about what they need, what they want, and what they deserve.”

Continue reading

Garcia: LAUSD families need to feel ‘connected and supported’


Monica Garcia talks to students at a board meeting.

As the school year begins next week, Mónica Garcia is celebrating her 10th year on the LA Unified School Board and her 15th year working in District 2, where she served as an academic advisor.

A lifelong East L.A. resident, her parents met at Stevenson Middle School in the 1950s and they remember more of an ethnic mix in the area at that time.

Garcia sat down with LA School Report at her LA Unified office to discuss the issues and anticipation of the new school year ahead.

LA School Report: As LA Unified’s longest-serving board president, six terms, what do you see as the most pressing challenges facing the district over the coming year?

Garcia: This year, even as leadership transition occurs, we want to make sure that our families feel connected and supported. I think that achievement, safety and communication are always at the top of any school. We’re going to see more technology.

We will allocate money from Measure Q [a bond for construction] which will be good for kids and good for jobs and good for our existing campuses. Roosevelt High School in my district will get support in the neighborhood of $100 million dollars. It doesn’t happen but once in a long time. We really have to be purposeful around how to support schools so it continues to grow. We will be talking about roofs and pipes and fields, but we have to really be strategic on the investment.

LASR: Do you think there’s been an erosion of trust with the parents and how do you improve that?

Garcia: We always need to improve whatever we do. When we say LA Unified is 70 percent graduation that means we’re getting it right with 70 percent of the families and missing it with 30 percent. I think we have to continually have to introduce ourselves as a service provider.

Every year there are changes at school sites there are changes with the district and we have to constantly be in communication with families about that.

Continue reading

Garcia welcomes foundations promoting charter school expansion

Mónica García

Mónica García

LA Unified board member Mónica García, a leading voice for education reform efforts, said she is open to plans by a group of foundations that wants to expand the number of charter schools in the district well beyond the 285 that are now serving district students.

“I’m open to any strategy that helps children and families. We know there is no one strategy for everybody,” García said in an interview with LA School Report.

She was specifically referring to recent reports that the Keck, Walton Family and Broad foundations plan to help children in low-performing schools who desire more educational choices by adding charters that could serve as many as half of LA Unified’s 650,000 students. Currently, about 100,000 students are served by charters in the district.

“I would go to any philanthropic arm and say ‘Please invest in our kids,’” García said. “We have many, many good strategies that need support.”

Her sentiments come in sharp contrast to other board members who view the proposed expansion with skepticism or even as a threat for the possibility that it would drain public dollars from the district’s traditional schools. Board president Steve Zimmer told the LA Times last week that an aggressive expansion of charters could undermine the district’s own improvement efforts, saying, “The most critical concern would be the collateral damage to the children left behind.”

García said many schools in her District 2, which includes South Central, Boyle Heights and other low-income areas, will be overcrowded and could thus benefit from additional charter schools.

Continue reading

Students face LAUSD board, demanding end to military weapons

The LA Unified board endured a long and unusual protest last night as about 50 students demanded specific actions to get military-style weapons out of the hands of district school police.

The students, some of them wearing bullet-proof vests, chanted for 20 minutes at the start of a meeting — “Back to school, no weapons” and “We want justice for our schools” — in protesting the federal 1033 Program, a federal effort that provides school districts with surplus military-grade weapons. LA Unified has been a recipient.

Board president Steve Zimmer let the chanting continue and at one point said, “Let them go on.”

The demonstration inside the board meeting followed two hours of drumming and shouting outside LA Unified headquarters, with students holding signs bearing the face of President Obama and Superintendent Ramon Cortines.

Manuel Criollo, a protest organizer from the Labor Community Strategy Center, told the board that he wanted an end to the program, which had given the district a tank, three grenade launchers and dozens of M-16s. The district returned the tank and grenade launchers last fall, but has kept the M-16s. In a June letter the Criollo’s group, Cortines said the district had ended its involvement with the program.

Brillo called for the board to be more public about the weapons and demanded that they be returned.

“It’s ironic that we have surplus weapons but we do not have surplus books,” he said.

Inside, the crowd called out to the only black school member, George McKenna, and he responded by recalling his own experiences with civil unrest while defending the need for school police to be prepared for any occasion in which student safety is at risk.

Continue reading

Garcia’s School Climate Committee leads LAUSD’s restorative justice era

Monica GarciaRarely, there’s anything more dry than an LA Unified committee meeting, where the minutia of reports and statistics are vetted before they make their way to the full school board.

But as the laboratory for forward-thinking ideas surrounding school discipline, meetings of the Successful School Climate Committee are typically anything but dull.

Chaired by board member Monica Garcia, the committee was formed in 2013 not long after the groundbreaking School Climate Bill of Rights was passed.

The measure was the first effort by a large school district in the nation to reverse the trend of “zero tolerance” by adopting restorative justice techniques and ending “willful defiance” suspensions and expulsions.

Much of the committee’s work focuses on issues surrounding the bill of rights and efforts to increase graduation rates by sending students to outside counseling instead of court and by having counselors work with troubled youth instead of suspending or expelling them. The shift requires nuanced and complicated efforts by school officials, and the Successful School Climate Committee is where many of the district’s ideas are hashed out.

“The committee gave us the forum to learn together about what works and then to hold the district accountable to do what it said what it was going to do,” Garcia told LA School Report.

“I’m most invested in helping us stay focused on that it’s all of us together, its not just one data piece or one instructional program, but really the comprehensive view of the lives of young people,” she added.

Continue reading

LA Unified board to consider request to delay computer tests

iPad program report

In its first meeting of 2015, the LA Unified school board tomorrow will debate a range of issues, from students’ eating alone to farm workers’ pay. But it’s the issue of state testing that will have the most immediate and significant impact on more than 300,000 district students.

Adding a powerful voice to the growing opposition against using the Smarter Balanced computer test this spring as means of measuring academic growth, board Members Monica Ratliff and Tamar Galatzan have co-sponsored a resolution that asks the state to delay use of the test results for any official purposes.

“It would be patently unfair to use the Spring 2015 SBAC assessment results for high stakes accountability purposes with respect to the students, teachers and schools of the District and any other school districts in a similar situation,” they say in their resolution, which will be voted on during the afternoon session.

Rarely do Galatzan and Ratliff work together on an issue. If passed, their measure would put the state’s largest school district in opposition to the tests.

The primary objection is not that students are ill-prepared in the subject matter — the new Common Core standards — but rather, they have not had the sufficient time to become familiar with the testing devices on which the computerized exam will be administered.

Continue reading

LAUSD board, unions vow support on Obama’s immigration action

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl speaks at Gratts Elementary

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl speaks at Gratts Elementary (Credit: UTLA Facebook page)

The LA Unified school board and union leaders moved today to help ensure that district schools are “safe havens” in support of President Obama‘s recent executive orders on immigration.

The orders, announced last month, potentially give deportation relief to millions of undocumented immigrants and their children.

A resolution introduced by board members Steve Zimmer and Monica Garcia pledges that the district will develop a plan to assist any students needing help with immigration records or applications.

The district today also announced plans to send a letter home with students advising their their parents and guardians “to be cautious of ‘so-called ‘notaries’ and dishonest lawyers (who) prey on the hopes of individuals and families seeking a better life,” according to a district press release.

The letter was signed by representatives of LAUSD, SEIU Local 99 and UTLA. Before the board meeting, Garcia and Zimmer held a press conference with leaders of the two unions, according to the release.

“The President’s Executive Action will bring great relief to students and their families,” said SEIU Local 99 Lilia Garcia, according to the press release. “I work with our school community every day and I see how much it impacts students when their mother or father is deported. The children come to school with fear or sadness. The President’s action will mean more stability for families, and this will mean students can focus on their education. I am proud that our union will be working with the District to ensure that parents can access information and resources in our schools.”

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl also pledged the union’s support in the release, saying, “As educators, we care about the whole child— not only their academic achievements, but also the social and economic wellbeing of our students. We support the School Board’s resolution on immigration reform and accountability. Students and their parents need our help and we are ready to do all we can inside and outside of the classroom.”

LA Unified officials praise Obama’s immigration order

President ObamaIn a rare sign of unanimity, LA Unified officials and school board member are praising President Obama‘s immigration speech last night.

The order relieves the threat of deportation for up to 5 million undocumented immigrants, including parents of children who are U.S. citizens or legal residents. It also expands eligibility for those who were brought to the country as children under the existing “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program.

“I’ve seen the heartbreak and anxiety of children whose mothers might be taken away from them just because they didn’t have the right papers… I’ve seen the courage of students who – except for the circumstances of their birth – are as American as Malia or Sasha; students who bravely come out as undocumented in hopes they could make a difference in a country they love,” Obama said in his speech.

Here is how some LA Unified officials responded to the President’s announcement.

While LAUSD embraces all students and families, regardless of citizenship, on their quest for the American dream – for many, the reality one step outside of the school gates still remains a nightmare,” board member Monica Garcia said in an issued statement. “Deportation and family separation is one of the greatest fears for families in my district and across Los Angeles.”

She added, “I applaud President Obama’s executive action to address this immigration crisis – including the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the opportunity for work permits, and reducing the likelihood for family separations. While this executive action was signed by the President’s pen, it is a victory for a broad coalition of immigrant rights, labor, and student activists, like our DREAMers, across the nation and here in Los Angeles – the epicenter of the immigrant rights movement.”

Continue reading

Garcia 2nd board member to endorse — Johnson is her guy

Monica Garcia LAUSD School BoardMonica Garcia, who represents LA Unified’s District 2, has become the second district board member to endorse one of the candidates running for the District 1 seat, last held by the late Marguerite LaMotte.

Garcia is the “special guest” at fundraiser tonight in Hancock Park for Alex Johnson, the Mark Ridley-Thomas aide who is opposing George McKenna in the Aug. 12 runoff.

Garcia’s appearance comes a few days after Monica Ratliff, the District 6 representative, threw her support behind McKenna.

Apart from the possibility each of the Monicas faces, the prospect of working alongside a new member she didn’t endorse, the expressions of support are entirely predictable.

Garcia is a well-known proponent of charter schools and overall school reform — her website carries the headline “Reform The L.A. Way,” and much of Johnson’s support has come from a political action committee affiliated with the California Charter Schools Association.

Ratliff, a former teacher, is more closely aligned with traditional schools and United Teachers Los Angeles, the local teachers union whose PAC is supporting McKenna.

The fundraiser is being hosted by Ben Paul, chief executive of the nationwide program After-School All-Stars, which provides activities for students beyond the daily final bell.

Previous Posts: McKenna is the union candidate, but CTA gave to Johnson backers; Ratliff forgoes neutrality, endorsing McKenna in board race; Johnson outpacing McKenna in school board race for money

Vergara ruling gets mixed reaction from school board

LAUSD School board members Vergara ruling reactionsPredictably, the historic superior court decision yesterday in the Vergara case elicited mixed reactions from members of the LA Unified school board.

The ruling, which found California laws dictating teacher tenure, seniority rights and dismissal practices unconstitutional, is seen as huge blow to teacher unions and a boost to education reformers. Here is what a handful of board members had to say:

Monica Garcia, LAUSD Board Member, District 2

“California is a state in transformation! Today, California must act to support our students’ civil rights as directed by Judge Rolf Treu in Vergara v. California. By striking down all five laws, California must focus corrective action that will ensure students are served adequately, and teachers are treated fairly. I applaud the nine student plaintiffs, and the Students Matter team for creating this opportunity to radically change our educational system.”

“On behalf of those I represent, I call on all parties to come together, propose new laws and lead the nation in creating conditions that best serve our youth.”

Tamar Galatzan, LAUSD Board Member, District 3

“The Vergara ruling is the first step toward being able to guarantee that we have great teachers in every LAUSD classroom and classrooms around the state. It is now up to the Legislature to pass laws that provide equal opportunity and provide equal access to a high-quality education.”

Steve Zimmer, LAUSD Board Member, District 4

“Basically yesterday you had a completely antithetical moment. You had the verdict read at the courthouse that identifies teacher tenure and other protection statutes as the reasons why kids have suffered disproportionately in public education. And then, not half a day later, you actually had the incoming president of the teachers union standing with a civil rights leader saying, No no no there are many factors that impact children and their access to education, and these factors are so strong that we believe that you have to take them into consideration when we are distributing funding.”

“As I’ve always said, there are parts of the statute that I would change. The problem with Vergara has always been that in saying one part of the problem is the problem, is a reckless theory. And now I worry that it could be a very reckless implementation.”

Bennett Kayser, LAUSD Board Member, District 5

“On behalf of my former colleagues, public school teachers, I am deeply saddened that our profession has been so attacked in the in the courts. It is shameful when billionaires use children to mask their efforts to eliminate employees’ hard-won rights. I do believe however that, we shall prevail on the Vergara appeal.”

Richard Vladovic, the board president, and Monica Ratliff, did not respond to requests for reaction to the Vergara case.

Previous posts: Vergara decision: Big win for students, big loss for teachers union; Analysis: The long wait for the impact — if any — of Vergara; Vergara trial ends, with CA teacher laws hanging in the balance


Another week, another LA Unified school board meeting

LAUSD School Board Meeting 5-20-14It’s hard to believe after last week’s marathon 10-hour session, but LA Unified school board members will be meet again tomorrow with a full agenda.

Most of the issues before the board are much less contentious than those addressed a week ago. They include:

  • Board member Bennett Kayser’s effort to form a task force charged with replacing the district’s potentially asthma-triggering cleaning supplies will come up for a vote.  It is the only resolution for action on the agenda.
  • A plan for a different task force will be introduced by Monica Garcia. This time one that, if passed, would develop a district-wide plan within three months for Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Education to be implemented in the Fall of 2015.
  • And Steve Zimmer has drafted a motion for phasing in the data resulting from the administration of the Smarter Balanced tests now that LA Unified “will sunset the use of API scores as a measurement and evaluation tool for schools communities and all other assessment purposes.”

In a closed session meeting the six members will address the usual: existing litigation, personnel dismissals, and student discipline cases. They will also meet with representatives of various labor groups who are entering into negotiations with the district on new collective bargaining contracts. Among them are the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (AALA), Los Angeles School Police Association (LASPOA), Service Employees International Union Local 99 (SEIU), and United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA).

After the meeting, the same board members will reconvene in the afternoon. for a special joint meeting of Committee of the Whole and the Adult Education Committee of the Los Angeles Community College District.

Much of the discussion will focus on Assembly Bill 86, an effort to coordinate public schools and community colleges to serve the needs of adult education students.

For board agenda, click here.

For board materials, click here.