Zimmer, charter group CEO square off over charter plan

LA Unified School Board President Steve Zimmer kept up his attack against the Broad Foundation charter schools expansion plan, appearing on KNBC’s “News Conference” yesterday and calling the plan a “perversion of what the charter movement was supposed to be.”

“The reason why I’m concerned is because this is really a business plan that doesn’t address all students,” Zimmer said. “It’s a some-student strategy not an all-student strategy and the problem is, is that when you take that many students away from the school district, necessarily you are injuring the students left behind, they become collateral damage of this plan.”

Zimmer was asked whether the district is concerned about control of the money that is allocated per student. “On the assumption that it’s exactly and precisely the same students then that would make sense,” Zimmer answered. “But we know it’s not the same students, we know that the students by and large that go to charter schools are not the students that have the most needs.”

Following Zimmer, the acting CEO of the Claifornia Charter School Association, Myrna Castrejon, disputed Zimmer’s characterization of the plan, saying, “I’m not sure where Mr. Zimmer is getting his facts. Charter schools enroll 2 percent more ELL (English Language Learners) than traditional public schools in Los Angeles. With Special Ed we are dead even with traditional public schools.”

She added, “I think really it is about protecting the institution.” She said the Local Control and Accountability Plan now allows the money to go where the students go and added, “If they want to go to charter schools, they are welcome.”

Zimmer said, “The biggest problem I have with the plan is that it talks about market share, it talks about our kids as market share. It’s a business strategy for a social and public sector problem.”

He added, “It’s really a perversion of what the charter movement was supposed to be. The charters were supposed to be innovators for change. And once they were able to break through, which some charters have, the change was supposed to spread throughout the system. This is a plan to bring the entire system down, and there will be a lot of damage in that system. Not just to the entire system, but to real kids in real time.”

Castrejon cited statistics showing that low income minority students have three or four times a better chance of going to college if they attend a charter school. She also said Broad plan is “a wonderful, wonderful gesture.”


Sexting education launches with ‘Now Matters Later’ video

This 12-minute video was posted on the LAUSD website today and will be shown to all 6th to 12th graders to warn them of the dangers of “sexting.” It is part of a campaign that will include lesson plans, posters, bilingual tip sheets and other resources for 900 elementary, middle and high schools.

The video features three high school students, Michael Meeks, Mary Rozo and Sara Ruiz from the Edward Roybal Learning Center, talking about a sexting message they received over the phone. They talk about it with their principal, other students, a school counselor, a Los Angeles police officer and Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. All of them warn about the legal consequences, criminal liability and future jeopardy of job and college applications.

But, the point is not to threaten and scare, but to educate, Judy Chiasson, the program coordinator for School Operations, Human Relations, Diversity & Equity at LAUSD told LA School Report. “We want to educate everyone, the students, the teachers, the administrators and the parents about the proper ways to handle these situations,” Chiasson said, adding the most appropriate thing to do is to block it and report it.

Students helped put together this first informational video along with the city attorney’s office, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and other agencies. Most of the experts in the video end their warnings with the catchphrase “Now Matters Later” which shows that an impulsive move at the moment could have dire consequences later in life.

“We want to help students be responsible when they use social media,”said Board of Education president Steve Zimmer. “Most importantly, we want to keep our students safe.”  Continue reading

LAUSD leaders take questions at ‘Back to School’ forum


LAUSD board President Steve Zimmer speaks at a public forum, joined by other district leaders (Credit: LAUSD)

Hundreds of LA Unified employees and parents filed into the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center‘s downtown auditorium yesterday for a “Back to School at LAUSD” forum, hosted by Superintendent Ramon Cortines and other key district leaders. The event wasn’t called to unveil a specific agenda, but more for an open panel discussion on issues facing the district, as well as for giving audience members an opportunity to ask questions.

Cortines was joined on stage by board President Steve Zimmer, Chief Deputy Superintendent Michelle King, Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Ruth Perez, Chief Financial Officer Megan Reilly and the event’s moderator, Chief of External Affairs Edgar Zazueta.

Zimmer’s answer to a question from Zazueta turned out to be one of the more compelling. Asked what drove him into education, Zimmer jumped back only a week and a half to the district’s Student Recovery Day, when district and city leaders make a coordinated effort to contact students who have dropped out and try and re-enroll them in school. The effort involved not just phone calls but visits to homes.

Zimmer painted a detailed picture with high drama straight out of a Hollywood movie as he described a home visit that he, King and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti paid to a family in an apartment where two boys who had dropped out live.

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Zimmer accuses Broad charter plan of strategy to ‘bring down’ LAUSD


Eli Broad

Steve Zimmer, president of the LA Unified school board, said today that plans by Eli Broad and other philanthropists to expand the number of charter schools in the district represents “a strategy to bring down LAUSD that leaves 250,000 kids vulnerable to damage.”

A draft report of the plan appears show how the organizations involved would be creating the equivalent of a parallel school district, one with a defined goal of serving half the number of students attending LA Unified schools within eight years.

The “Great Public Schools Now Initiative” says the expansion would cost nearly half a billion dollars by 2023, through 260 new charter schools to serve an additional 130,000 students “most in need — low-income students of color.” Currently, about 151,000 students now attend charters in LA Unified, which has more charter schools, 264, than any school district in the country.

The 54-page report, dated “June 2015,” omits the names of authors or sponsoring organizations. But Eli Broad’s name appears at the end of a cover letter accompanying the report that makes a case for charter schools as “the greatest hope for students in L.A.” And alluding to the number of students on waiting lists to get into existing charters, now about 42,000, the need for more charters, he says, is urgent.

“We are committed to closing the waitlist and ensuring that every family in L.A. has access to a high-quality public school,” Broad writes. “Such dramatic charter school growth would address the needs of families who have been underserved by public schools for years, if not generations.”

He also argues that, “The stakes are extraordinarily high. In all our years working to improve public schools, we have never been so optimistic about a strategy that we believe has the potential to dramatically change not only the lives of thousands of students but also the paradigm of public education in this country.”

But Zimmer characterized the plan as a destructive one that would ignore the needs of thousands of other children “living in isolation, segregation and extreme poverty.”

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Westwood Charter parents gather petition for address verifications



A group of parents at WestwoScreen Shot 2015-09-17 at 10.01.58 AMod Charter School fear that families are faking their addresses to enroll their children in the highly sought-after LA Unified-affiliated school.

The parents were concerned that school
enrollment is coming dangerously close to its maximum capacity. First priority for enrollment in such schools usually goes to local residents. When the school gets filled, locals get bused to another district, and a lottery system determines how remaining openings are filled.

“We believe that at least 10 percent of the current students at Westwood Charter do not live in the boundaries of the school, and we need to fight this fraud to keep our class sizes small, manage the enrollment in the future and eliminate the risk of over-enrollment consequences,” said parent David Glazov, who was one of the concerned parents who signed a petition to give to LAUSD officials.


Kathy Flores, the school principal, said the school has 852 students and after checking the addresses of 150 homes “found no fraud.” The school added two extra steps to the enrollment process to prevent fraud.

Flores wrote: “Last spring I wrote a letter to the Westwood Charter families to clarify an abundance of misinformation in the community about our school and enrollment. I also spoke directly with the president of our larger homeowner’s association to convey accurate information about the enrollment process implemented by our school.”

The principal said, “Regarding a report that 10 percent of the addresses in the school directory are out of the area. That is correct. As an affiliated charter, Westwood must adhere to the enrollment process defined by The Charter Schools Act. Westwood gives priority to students who live within the boundaries of our school.  However, if space allows, we can pull names from our lottery and enroll students who reside outside our defined boundaries. Once a child is enrolled, a student is allowed continued enrollment, even if the family relocates outside the defined boundaries.”

The petition has more than 200 signatures and calls for an immediate address verification. Gayla Scoll said in the petition, “It is only fair and appropriate for equal rights to be ensured and for protection to be provided residents to be given first priority for enrollment in their local school.”

It not only concerns the people with children in the schools, but can also affect real estate prices in the area if residents can’t be assured getting into their local home school. The same issue happened two years ago at Carpenter Community Charter in Studio City when families faked addresses to get into the school that had high test scores and a good reputation.

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Zimmer on Westside reservoir of goodwill: ‘Completely dry’

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 9.06.50 AM

By Gary Walker

The new Common Core state standardized test results are in, and they don’t look great for LAUSD.

Nearly a year after the departure of Supt. John Deasy, the school district still awaits new permanent executive leadership.

Traditional public school enrollment is declining as charter schools pick up more students and move into empty LAUSD classrooms, while specialized education programs designed to keep families from leaving the district are encountering resistance from neighborhood schools.

Steve Zimmer, the longtime Westside LAUSD board member who became president of the board in July, has a lot on his plate.

A former high school teacher and counselor, Zimmer says he hopes to chart a different course than past LAUSD board presidents — one less-defined by political friction and internal division.

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Clippers’ $3 million gift helping City Year’s work in 26 LAUSD schools

corps members bursting forth-1The NBA’s LA Clippers have given $3 million to City Year, which helps service low-performing schools in low economic areas of Los Angeles.

The announcement was made at a City Year opening day ceremony on Friday with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and LA Unified board president Steve Zimmer.  City Year has 309 AmeriCorps members working in 26 district schools — one charter, 25 traditional — in Watts, south Los Angeles, Boyle Heights and Koreatown. They will be helping more than 10,000 at-risk students as part of a national effort to increase high school graduation rates.

Garcetti said the corps members “have a tremendous impact on the lives of students through their role in the classroom, and as mentors and role models. I commend them for their choice to serve and thank them for being a vital part of moving the needle on LA’s graduation rates.”

Andrew Glazier, City Year’s managing director for program and service, said corps members serve full-time in schools, providing students with tutoring, in-class support and extended day programs, as well as school-wide initiatives to increase academic achievement and student engagement. Founded nine years ago, the group has supported 100,000 students.

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Efforts underway to save ceramics class at LAUSD middle school

A student in ceramics class at Mark Twain Middle School.

A student in ceramics class at Mark Twain Middle School.

For 35 years, a group of mostly women gathered to work with clay at their adult education ceramics class, but now it may be canceled due to an LAUSD Catch-22 snafu.

Adults, students, grandmothers and their grandchildren have attended the Adult Education Ceramics class at Mark Twain Middle School, and sometimes the class draws as many as three dozen people. Old-timers estimate that nearly 1,000 have taken the class over the years.

Ellen Levy, who started as a student, is now teaching the ceramics class. At first, she was an LAUSD employee. But now the class has become fee-based activity, effectively turning Levy into a former LAUSD employee. And as an outside program, LAUSD is insisting that it be covered by insurance, paid for by the program leaders.

“LAUSD has made it a nightmare for us to exist, and that is sad,” said Linda Jones, who attends the class with her children and grandchildren. It is cost-prohibitive to pay to insure their class, and those restrictions were only required recently at the Mar Vista school. Students use the kiln and ceramics classroom during the day and have their own thriving arts program with regular art shows.

“It has remained a wonderful class with great creative energy and now we are threatened,” said Joanne Jaffe, one of the longtime adult students. “I am passionate about this program.”

The women appealed to their district board representative, Steve Zimmer, who is also president of the school board, but said they got no response. So five of them went to the school board meeting last week to make an appeal in person. The group has exhausted other options to move and remains hopeful that the district can waive the insurance or find another way to keep the program at the school.

“It is a group of mixed ages and cultures and we are sharing experiences and knowledge, it would be a shame for it to end,” Jaffe said.


LA Unified board picks Hazard Young to find next superintendent


William Attea, Joseph M. Farley and Darline Robles of Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates

The LA Unified school board yesterday picked the search firm to find the district’s next superintendent, completing a relatively speedy process that suggests the members want a successor in place when Ramon Cortines steps down in December.

The search process began Sunday, when the board narrowed the field to two head-hunter firms from five and was completed last night following a long day of meetings, in public and private.

After some discussion and a decision not to delay the actual selection, Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates of Rosemont, Ill. prevailed in a unanimous vote over Leadership Associates of La Quinta, Calif. Hazard Young projected the highest cost, $160,000, of any of the five firms bidding, but its executives promised that they would deliver a choice of candidates “who meet your criteria” for the job.

“This is singularly the most important search in our nation,” school board president Steve Zimmer said before inviting the two firms to address the board, one after the other. “This is the most important job in public education in our nation.”

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UTLA making clear to LAUSD board what it wants in next superintendent

UTLAAn open and transparent search, background as an educator and under no circumstances someone from the Broad Academy. Those are the three major criteria that UTLA wants in the next LAUSD school superintendent.

Alex Caputo-Pearl, the president of the United Teachers Los Angeles union, told the LA School Report that he has made it known to the school board the kind of superintendent teachers want in a successor to Ramon Cortines.

“So far we have been advocating these three issues,” he said. “We want the process to be transparent and open and understandable. It can’t be a move from the corner office to the front office like John Deasy was last time around and without a process. That didn’t work out well.”

The search process is now underway, with the board set to pick an executive search firm on Sunday. There’s a deadline to the extent that Cortines says he want to step down by December. At the outside, the board wants a successor in place before the start of the 2016-2017 school year.

Once the finalists are chosen, Caputo-Pearl is advocating public meetings where educators, parents and the community can ask the candidates questions and voice concerns. “We need to see how they get to engage with folks,” he said.

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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.”

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Parents tell Zimmer kids scared by homeless, tents, mobile homes

Steve Zimmer greets parents at Vine Street Elementary

Steve Zimmer greets parents at Vine Street Elementary

On the first day of school yesterday as he visited a school in his district, LA Unified board president Steve Zimmer encountered an unexpected issue: Parents at Vine Street Elementary in Hollywood were complaining about the tents, mobile homes and the homeless people living on the street behind the school.

“I know, I saw that while coming into the school, I had trouble getting in myself,” Zimmer said as he met with parents in one of his first-day-of-school stops. “This is a very serious concern and we should be able to take care of it quickly.”

Parent Rudy Sanchez raised the issue as Zimmer appeared before about 80 parents at the school of 580 students, K-through-6th grade. Many of the parents nodded in agreement that this issue was their most serious concern. Most of the children attending the school are dropped off to enter through a back entrance at Lillian Way, rather than through the main entrance on Vine Street. Lillian Way is a small street with mobile homes and trailers and several homeless people sleeping in boxes or tents.

“These homeless people follow the children, and today one of them almost hit my car while I was bringing my children to school,” said Sanchez, who has two children at the school. After school, he said, the children walk a few blocks to the Boys & Girls Club in Hollywood and he is worried. “I have told them don’t go with strangers, but I am nervous. This has been going on for a long time,” he said.

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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.

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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.

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Zimmer appoints board’s newest members to lead committees

SteveZimmerLAUSD School board president Steve Zimmer has given the board’s two newest members committee chairmanships.

Ref Rodriguez will be taking over the Early Childhood Education and Parent Engagement Committee, which was previously run by Bennett Kayser, whom Rodriguez defeated in the June runoff.

Zimmer named the other new board member, Scott Schmerelson, chairman of the Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Committee.

Mónica Ratliff will head the Budget, Facilities and Audit Committee, which was also once led by Kayser. Ratliff previously served on the committee.

Mónica García will retain her chairmanship of the Successful School Climate: Progressive Discipline and Safety Committee. When students protested the military-grade weapons available to school police at the board meeting last Thursday night, García pointed out that the issue will be taken up at her committee.

Schmerelson was also named as the district’s liaison to the National School Boards Association. Zimmer previously made other board appointments just after being elected to the position last month.

Most of the committees meet monthly, and they are all open to the public.

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.

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Zimmer sets LAUSD board meeting to begin superintendent search

Steve ZimmerThe LA Unified board has scheduled a special meeting next week to initiate discussions on how to conduct the search for a successor to Superintendent Ray Cortines, who has expressed a desire to step down by December.

“The board will meet on July 30 to start just the technical part of the [search] process,” board president Steve Zimmer said in an interview with KPCC.

“I can’t say for sure what the calendar will be until the board meets and is able to discuss it together,” he said. “But I can, in broad strokes, outline that there will be a period of listening, there will be a period of search, there will be a period of winnowing down from that search.”

Just after Zimmer was elected board president last month, he tried to schedule a meeting with all the members for some time in August, well before the first regular meeting of the new school year, on Sept. 1, but there were scheduling conflicts that needed to be accommodated.

Zimmer has stressed that finding a new superintendent is the most important task facing the board for the upcoming school year. He insisted that there was no “shortlist” of candidates for the position.

“There will be the deliberation over the group of finalists, all of whom I hope will be consensus builders, collaborators, and will have the proper balance of urgency and periphery to understand that to move forward it has to be all of us together,” Zimmer said in the radio interview. “There’s no shortlist.”

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Zimmer, on success of public (ed) system in LA: ‘A very open question’

ZImmer Board Meeting March 3, 2014

LA Unified’s new board president, Steve Zimmer, had a recent chat with Politico, and some of his comments reached its Education Morning Edition today.

Nothing surprising until the final paragraph, when he expresses his hope that the selection of a new superintendent to replace the soon-to-be-leaving Ramon Cortines doesn’t “devolve into another ground war over schooling, pitting traditional public school advocates against education reformers,” as Politico put it.

Zimmer responds by saying he hopes to elevate the conversation, adding, “The premise, the baseline assumption, is that a large public system can’t work,” he said. “But that’s still a very open question in Los Angeles.”

He did not elaborate. Or if he did, it wasn’t included in the Politico report.

Elsewhere, Zimmer acknowledged the disruptive issues of the last year or so — iPads, MiSiS, questions over contract bidding, an FBI probe, the departure of former superintendent John Deasy —  and said, “We’re literally at a pivot point.”

“The bruises and wounds that John Deasy and all the controversy around him had left were almost as dangerous to the district as the budget crisis itself,” he added, describing Cortines as a major stabilizing force in helping to balance a budget and in reaching agreement with the teachers union on a new contract.

“So we have to transition from a person who is literally the most skilled school system leader in the country,” he said, “to new leadership in a community that is just healing.”

Board members offer vision of what’s expected of LAUSD president

LAUSD board swear inSteve Zimmer may think that being elected as the new LA Unified board president was the tough part. But now he has to live up to the expectations of his fellow members of the board.

Even before he was voted in unanimously last week, the board members laid out their expectations of the future president.

Among the specifics requested: a monthly report on the search for the new superintendent and a reading of the school board’s goals at the beginning of each meeting.

The wish list came about after Mónica Ratliff interrupted Superintendent Ramon Cortines as he was asking for nominations for president. Before voting, she said, she wanted everyone to articulate their expectations of the position because “we have a rare opportunity to discuss what we would like the board president to do.”

Cortines honored the request, and she began.

“We have to have a very transparent superintendent search,” Ratliff said. That includes an update on a monthly basis “so people know where we are at in terms of that search.”

She said the president must be “somebody who is being transparent about what is going on and not making alliances behind the scenes.”

Former president Richard Vladovic joked, “I’d like to see the new president do exactly what I did.”

He pointed out, “I tried to not use it as a bully pulpit, and I tried to bring us all together.”

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Zimmer names McKenna, Ratliff, Vladovic as LA Unified reps

Steve ZimmerAfter Steve Zimmer was elected unanimously last week as the LA Unified board president, one of his first orders of business was appointing a Vice President and finding members to represent the district to a series of organizations.

In his first move, he named George McKenna, the District 1 representative, as board vice president, which didn’t require a vote. Then, the board elected others to positions in county, state and national boards. The positions weren’t contested, and neither of the two new members, Ref Rodriguez and Scott Schmerelson, volunteered for any of the spots.

First up was an election for a representative to the Los Angeles County School Trustees Association. That group was started in 1937 by the Los Angeles County Office of Education to provide school board members with training, informational support and ways to network with other school board members in other nearby districts. They collaborate with the California School Boards Association in Sacramento. 

It was suggested by staff that the same person taking that position should also be elected to the voting board of the Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization. That’s also a county committee, made up of 11 members, that studies and makes recommendations about forming new school districts and changing boundaries and territories within districts.

Mónica Ratliff agreed to take both positons.

McKenna was named the board representative to the California School Boards Association, a nonprofit group with nearly 1,000 educational agencies throughout the state that serves as a unified voice for school districts and county offices of education.

For the next position, former board president Richard Vladovic suggested that the president of the school board be the representative to the Council of Great City Schools.

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