The LA Unified school board broke into a surprise closed session for several hours Tuesday afternoon in the middle of their public meeting in order to head off a potential “parent trigger” lawsuit over 20th Street Elementary School.
All morning, the school board was in closed session to discuss employee actions, contract renewals and pending litigation. Then, in the middle of the 1 p.m. public meeting, school board secretariat Jefferson Crain said they were going into closed session again to discuss the potential litigation involving the elementary school.
Board member Monica Garcia, who has worked with the 20th Street parents to try to solve the issues, said Wednesday that the closed-door session wasn’t merely to stop the threatened lawsuit.
“We are making every effort to listen to all of the concerns, the dreams and aspirations of all the players and give energy into making that a better school,” Garcia told LA School Report.
Gabe Rose of Parent Revolution — a nonprofit group that helps parents organize and take over a failing campus through the state’s Parent Empowerment Act — said the attorney representing the parents “made it very clear that there’s pending litigation and that’s why in the closed sessions they went in to see what the settlement would look like. The parents expressed clearly there’s no plausible deal without a significant shift in who’s managing the school.”
But the district didn’t offer enough, Rose said. “The parents need autonomy and without the necessary changes, they will go the legal route and be successful. The district never did any of the things they promised, so of course there’s a lot of hesitation on the part of the parents.”
One of the parents, Omar Cavillo, who helped file the trigger against the district, said the parents are trying to work on a deal with Partnership for Los Angeles Schools that could offer a hybrid of a charter and traditional school as an option, which they have done in 17 schools in the South Central LA area.
“We like the Partnership, but the deal the district offered still had them completely in charge of our school,” Cavillo said. “The attorneys are negotiating, and that’s probably what is going on in the closed session.”
No one seems to want to go to court. “We don’t want a lawsuit, it’s not good for the district or school or community,” Cavillo said. “We care for LAUSD, there are some great teachers. We want to work with the district.”