JUST IN: Board Member Galatzan announces bid for third term

 Tamar Galatzan LAUSD School Board Member

Tamar Galatzan LA Unified School Board Member

LA Unified school board member Tamar Galatzan, a strong supporter of Superintendent John Deasy and his efforts to reform public education, said today she plans to run for another term next year.

“I plan to seek a third term in order to continue the work I’ve been doing since voters in Board District 3 first chose me to represent them in 2007,” she said in a statement.

“As the only board member with kids in Los Angeles Unified, I want to build on my efforts to guarantee that all district students have access to effective teachers, safe campuses, cutting-edge technology and the other resources they need to thrive academically,” she added. “I also remain committed to increasing transparency and accountability in the nation’s second-largest school district.”

Representing a Valley district that has experienced an explosion of affiliated charter schools since she was first elected, Galatzan says she has “worked tirelessly” on behalf of students in the West San Fernando Valley.

Among her board achievements, she cites funding shade structures and air-conditioning projects for campuses in the some of the hottest areas of the Valley, equipping other schools with devices for their computer labs and holding community meetings on critical topics like the Common Core State Standards, school funding and teacher evaluations.

Her announcement means that District 3 will have at least three candidates running. Two others, Carl Petersen and Elizabeth Badger, have filed with the LA City Ethics Commission to oppose her.

In addition to serving on the LZ Unified board, Galatzan, 44, is a prosecutor with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.


Abandoned LA Unified schools coming back to life — but how?

dilapidated schoolsAfter more than 30 years, the West Valley may be closer to having four more schools.

What kind of schools remains to be seen.

Community members are invited tomorrow night to a meeting at Woodlake Elementary School to learn more about the the future of the elementary schools — Oso, Collins, Highlander and Platt Ranch Elementary — that were abandoned in the 1980s due to a massive loss of student attendance.

Those who attend the meeting will be among the first to hear recommendations from LA Unified’s Facilities Division, which has reviewed multiple bids to renovate the properties at a cost of up to $80 million. The division has narrowed the bids to one per campus and has so far declined to reveal details about any of the bids that were passed on.

Tom Rubin, consultant to the district’s School Construction Bond Citizens’ Oversight Committee, said the bidding process is done in utter secrecy, but the board has given charter schools affiliated with the district top priority.

“It’s a safe bet, that’s who the district is going to go with,” he told LA School Report.

But it won’t be cheap.

“These schools need work,” Rubin said. “The charters were very clearly told, go out, we’ll give you the tour, we’ll help you figure out what’s needed. We’ll tell you everything we know but these will need work.”

School board members Tamar Galatzan and Steve Zimmer will attend the meeting. Each has two of the shuttered schools in their district.

The full school board will take up the decision to proceed with the proposals at the board’s next meeting, on Tuesday.


Typical LA Unified school board meeting: pique and confusion

Tamar Galatzan: She was not happy

Tamar Galatzan: She was not happy

Today’s LA Unified school board meeting may have been brief, but it was just as acrimonious and confusing as some of the longer ones.

While problems contributing to the appearance of dysfunction usually focus on content or process. This one focused on both.

The big issue was over Bennett Kayser’s resolution to expand Title I funding to schools with only 40 percent low-income student population, rather than the current threshold, 50 percent.

As it appeared on the meeting agenda, it was virtually the same as a measure that came before the board two months ago from Tamar Galatzan and Monica Ratliff that was defeated in a 3-3 deadlock, with Kayser abstaining.

“Maybe this is the lawyer in me,” said Galatzan, who was clearly piqued. “But this seems substantially similar to me.”

Other members seemed confused about how the item ended up on the agenda, to start with. The board’s Rule 73 blocks members from initiating a motion that is “substantially similar” to one that has been voted on within the previous six months. That’s meant to promote stability and also prevent the board from repeatedly dealing with the same issues.

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LA Unified board OKs more iPads, caretaker for vacancy

images-2The LA Unified School Board made two major decisions today that will go a long way toward shaping the months ahead.

The six members green-lighted Phase 2 of the iPad plan, ensuring enough tablets for standardized testing in the Spring, and they approved the appointment of a non-voting representative to serve District 1 until later in the year.

In a unanimous vote on the iPads, the board put into action essentially the same plan that was before them two months ago. This next phase will bring the tablets to 38 new campuses, provide high school students at seven schools with a laptop, acquire keyboards for Phase 1 and 2 schools and equip all schools with enough iPads for all students to take the Smarter Balanced field test in the spring. The cost is estimated to be $115 million.

The decision went against the advice of the Bond Oversight Committee, which recommended that the board limit the number of devices it procures through the end of the year.

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Delay on iPads shows deep division on LA Unified board

TamarDec_17It’s the other delay yesterday that portends long-term consequences for LA Unified students.

In the latest sign of the deep divide on the district school board, the members voted to hold off the next phase of the iPad program, rather than approve a carefully crafted compromise that the board had hammered out, and passed, at the last meeting.

An agenda item yesterday to approve distribution of iPads to 38 schools and laptops to seven high schools was pushed off to the board’s next scheduled meeting, Jan. 14.

Then, later in the meeting, a resolution from Tamar Galatzan and Monica Garcia to act upon the November action – in other words, to bypass the item postponed – was defeated.

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LA Unified board delays action on LaMotte vacancy to January

LA Unified Board Meeting

The LA Unified school board today postponed until next month any consideration of how to fill the board seat left vacant by the death of Marguerite LaMotte, bowing to a wave of pleas from speakers asking the board to wait until after her funeral.

A 3-3 vote on a motion to allow discussion to begin effectively killed the effort. A six-member board requires four votes for any measure to pass.

President Richard Vladovic, Tamar Galatzan and Monica Garcia voted in favor of consideration; Steve Zimmer, Bennett Kayser and Monica Ratliff voted to wait. The board then voted unanimously to schedule a special meeting Jan. 7, when a debate will begin over whether to fill the seat through a special election or a board appointment.

The funeral for LaMotte, who died Dec. 5, is scheduled for Saturday.

The board’s first vote was preceded by a parade of speakers, a majority of whom urged the members to defer action out of respect for LaMotte’s family and legacy.

Typical of the passion was that from Patricia Sanders, vice president of the New Frontier Democratic Club, who argued that it was “time to memorialize and funeralize” LaMotte, who, she said, “would be pissed off to the highest point of pissivisity,” were the board to act so quickly after the death of another member.

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BREAKING NEWS: Board postpones vote on LaMotte seat

20131217-SteveZimmer3The LA Unified school board voted today to delay a decision on how to fill the board seat held by the late Marguerite LaMotte until Jan.7 to allow her family to hold a funeral service and interment.

A 3-3 vote to consider the options effectively killed the motion to take up the matter four votes were required for passage. President Richard Vladovic, Tamar Galatzan and Monica Garcia voted to waive a rule that would have opened the door to immediate consideration, while Bennett Kayser, Monica Ratliff and Steve Zimmer voted against the waiver.

The board then voted unanimously to take up the issue at a special meeting on Jan. 7.


A full plate for the LA Unified board — LaMotte seat, fixes, iPads

generic board meetingThe LA Unified school board is back together tomorrow, with a long agenda highlighted by several high-stakes and, very likely, contentious issues.

Foremost is the discussion and probable vote on how to fill the vacant District 1 seat. Marguerite LaMotte’s death on Dec. 4 has left the board with the options of filling the seat by board appointment or working with the city to hold a special election.

There are rational arguments for and against either choice, but with six people deciding, the prevailing side needs four votes. A 3-3 deadlock would require the board to keep voting until someone is persuaded to break.

Efforts by LA School Report last week to learn where members stand found that they appeared to be split, with President Richard Vladovic, Tamar Galatzan and Monica Garcia favoring a special election and Bennett Kayser and Monica Ratliff favoring an appointment. Steve Zimmer was said to favor an appointment, but he told the LA Times he’s undecided.

A chorus of voices that includes state and federal elected officials have expressed support for an election. Rep. Maxine Waters, whose Congressional district overlaps the LaMotte district, campaigned for an election at the First AME Church of Los Angeles last night. LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is urging people to show up at district headquarters tomorrow to rally for an election.

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Galatzan Hires New Chief of Staff, LA Daily News’ Barbara Jones

Barbara Jones

Barbara Jones

LA Unified board member Tamar Galatzan is bringing aboard a new chief of staff, and anyone familiar with how the nation’s second-largest school district works and doesn’t work has the new hire to thank.

Barbara Jones is stepping away from a long and distinguished newspaper career, the last 26 years at the LA Daily News, to run Galatzan’s staff. In a memo yesterday to newsroom personnel, city editor Harrison Sheppard said:

“Barb joined the Daily News in 1987, and has held just about every job in the newsroom — night editor, city editor, business editor, features editor and others. As education reporter for the last two years, she has absolutely kicked ass, generating scoop after scoop and holding the district’s feet to the fire with a genuine passion for the beat.”

Jones is replacing Hilary Macgregor, a writer, former LA Times reporter and mother of two, who became Galatzan’s chief of staff in 2011. She replaced Tom Waldman, who moved into his current position of Director of Media and Communications for all of LA Unified.


LAUSD Losing Fewer Teachers For Second Straight Year

Board Member Steve Zimmer

Board Member Steve Zimmer

For the second year in a row, LA Unified is losing fewer teachers, and district projections indicate that the trend will continue through the current school year.

Vivian Ekchian, the district’s Chief Human Resources Officer, told a committee meeting yesterday that the trend is largely due to more diligent work at the front end of the hiring process. She said the district has revamped the interview system to include a lesson observation and an essay, and the district now requires that applicants have a degree in the subject matter they plan to teach.

Teachers leave their jobs for a variety of reasons, including retirement, dismissal and jobs in other districts.

Ekchian was one of several speakers at a meeting of the Committee of the Whole that was devoted to new strategies for training, hiring and retaining better teachers and including among new recruits teachers whose diversity more closely aligns with the diversity of district students.

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A Double Dose of iPads Today, at a Meeting and a Protest

"Let them eat iPads"

“Let them eat iPads”

As it turns out, there are two places today to learn about elements of LA Unified’s Common Core Technology Project. One is a committee meeting, planned for 5:30 p.m. at district headquarters.

The other is a 5 o’clock union protest at Valley Academy of Arts and Sciences, where Tamar Galatzan is hosting a community meeting at 6 to discuss the Common Core State Standards.

Galatzan was the only board member who voted against a compromise measure last week to continue the iPad program for now but study its continuation, thus the union’s indignation. Protest organizers are hoping people show up to complain.

These are likely to be very different events in style, if not substance.

Monica Ratliff, chair of the Common Core Technology Project Ad Hoc Committee, has planned an orderly series of speakers to address survey results, procurement issues and updates on other aspects of the district’s digital program.

Protest organizers say “ ‘Queen Marie Antoinette’—in full regalia—will address the public and dish out iPad-shaped cake.”

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Parents Ask LA Unified for Timely Sexual Assault Notification

school privacyParents at Superior Street Elementary in Chatsworth last night pressed LA Unified officials to change district regulations so that the public is notified of sexual assaults on school campuses.

At issue was a three-year-case that only came to light after the LA Times reported back in May that the district awarded damages of $1.4 million to a 9-year girl with special needs who was repeatedly assaulted by a 10-year old male classmate in Superior Street’s after school program. The incident occurred in the Spring of 2010.

District officials said they would consider the request but pointed to privacy regulations that apply in cases of a child on child assault when the District determines that there is no further danger to the school community.

“This is not the case where parents are asking for confidential information,” said Filiberto Gonzalez, a parent representative at Superior Street, an affiliated charter in the West Valley, who helped organize the gathering. “If an abuse occurs on campus, the parents have the right to know about it.”

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Kayser Abstention Dooms Effort to Spread Out Title 1 Money*

Title 1LA Unified School board member Tamar Galatzan had hoped to sway her colleagues to change the way the district distributes Title 1 funds for low-income students. But her motion, co-sponsored by Monica Ratliff, failed to get majority support at yesterday’s board meeting.

The vote was split, 3-3, with Galatzan, Ratliff and Steve Zimmer, all of whom represent districts with mixed income levels, supporting the measure. Monica Garcia, Richard Vladovic, and Marguerite LaMotte, whose schools are located in high poverty communities, voting against.

Bennett Kayser assured defeat when he abstained.

“This is a really tough one,” he said, explaining that his district would suffer no matter which side he took.

Kayser represents schools from Eagle Rock, where the median household income is above $67,000, to Bell where it’s about $37,000.

After federal dollars were reduced by 9 percent in 2011, the district raised the threshold for eligibility for Title 1 funds to schools where 50 percent of students were from low-income families, with schools with 65 to 100 percent low income students getting additional money.

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LA Unified Board to Address 2 Controversies — Vladovic, iPads*

ipad teacherTwo issues that have the drawn LA Unified school board into unanticipated controversy move into the spotlight tomorrow when the board convenes its regular meeting for November.

One is the public profile of Board President Richard Vladovic, as he awaits a consideration of a censure motion from Tamar Galatzan – the first motion of its kind in LA Unified board history. Vladovic has been accused of verbal and sexual harassment by former co-workers. He has publicly apologized for being abrasive toward colleagues but has denied all other charges.

The motion requires support from at least one other board member to move to a full vote, otherwise the resolution falls, and a similar measure cannot be brought forward for six months. So far, Galatzan has no co-sponsor.

The other big issue is the future of the billion dollar iPad program, with conflicting resolutions from the board’s two Monicas – Ratliff and Garcia – that could go a long way toward determining whether district’s Common Core technology project extends Phase 1 of the iPads with iPads or other digital devices.

A third approach has been offered for consideration by deputy superintendent Jaime Aquino.

Ratliff’s resolution aims to prolong the first phase of the tablet rollout through the end of the school year, while evaluators assess the usefulness of the devices and their impact on learning. It also urges the district to launch a new pilot program, distributing laptop computers to ninth graders while conducting studies on the use of other devices and software curriculum in the district.

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Lost in Resignation, Vladovic Faces a Censure Motion

Board President Richard Vladovic

Board President Richard Vladovic

Expectations of John Deasy‘s resignation as superintendent of LA Unified have shoved aside almost every other matter before the school board at its meeting tomorrow, including a detailed review of the iPad program, which has now been postponed.

The board is taking up Deasy’s situation in a closed-door session, leaving only one item on the open agenda, and on a normal day, it would be the stuff of front-page headlines: introduction of a resolution from Tamar Galatzan to censure Board President Richard Vladovic “for conduct that has brought dishonor to himself, the School Board, and the Los Angeles Unified School District.” He has been accused of verbal abuse and sexual harassment, both violations of district code.

By board rules, a resolution can only be discussed, not voted upon, after its “notice.” A vote would come at a later meeting.

Vladovic has denied the accusations and has said nothing about them publicly. He has apologized for raising his voice at times but nothing more. It remains unclear if any accusers will initiate legal action.

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Deasy Leaving LA Unified? Who Could be Surprised

Superintendent Deasy

Superintendent Deasy

News Analysis

If John Deasy is resigning of his own accord or he is soon to be fired, his potential departure as superintendent of the LA Unified School District further undermines leadership of the city’s public education community at a time of massive change and uncertainty.

Whether a victim of policies judged too aggressive by a conservative board or his own frustrations with it, Deasy would leave LA Unified rudderless amid the district’s shift to a challenging new instructional curriculum, turmoil over teacher evaluations, controversy over the iPad rollout, uncertainty over the use of student test scores, mounting conflict over new revenue from the state, tenuous relations with the teachers union and, of course, strong disagreements with a school board that clearly dislikes many of his policy choices.

“He just can’t get anything done,” a district official said of Deasy’s relationship with the board. “They block everything he tries to do. If he can’t move them, why would he want to stay?”

Further, his leadership team is already without a permanent chief deputy of instruction — the current deputy, Jaime Aquino, has announced that he, too, is leaving — and the board with which he must work smoothly if not happily, has been weakened by a president facing charges of sexual harassment, verbal abuse and a censure motion by one of his own board colleagues.

Deasy has not confirmed a decision to step down. He has told various media outlets, including LA School Report, that he has not submitted a letter of resignation and would clarify his situation after the board conducts his annual performance review on Tuesday. Nonetheless, the union wasted little time, last night responding to the news as if it were a certainty, issuing a statement under the headline, “UTLA: It’s about time.” The first sentence: “It is no secret that UTLA has had major concerns with John Deasy’s leadership.”

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LA Unified Board to Consider Return to Greater Title 1 Support

Title 1Not so long ago, students at Dahlia Heights Elementary School could receive tutoring during and after school. They enjoyed the services of a music teacher and a part-time librarian and could access free after-school enrichment and homework assistance. Teachers at the Eagle Rock school got $20,000 worth of professional development..

All those benefits came through federal Title 1 funds.

Today, the vast majority of the money is gone, a victim of the LA Unified school board’s decision in 2011 to raise eligibility requirements for schools to receive Title I money. But help may be on the way.

On Nov. 12th, after months of frantic appeals from parents, teachers and staff at Dahlia Heights and other affected schools across the district, the board will consider a resolution from Tamar Galatzan and Monica Ratliff that would restore the funding to its previous levels.

Title I was established by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 to help poor children perform as well as their middle class peers. Previously, LA Unified required a campus have at least 40 percent of its students receiving free or reduced price lunches to qualify for Title I funding. But after the federal government slashed the district’s allocation by 9.2 percent, the board voted, 6-1, to increase the Title I threshold to 50 percent of students with free or reduced price lunch.

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Vladovic Censure Would be ‘Extremely Divisive Episode’*

CensuredAn expert in school board governance says that a censure vote is rare and has the potential to fracture a board even beyond its existing rifts.

Christopher Maricle, a policy program officer and governance consultant for the California School Board Association, says the effort to publicly condemn a school district president could be an extremely divisive episode for the board — one that Maricle said would be difficult to overcome.

Richard Vladovic, the LA Unified board president, has been accused of verbal and sexual harassment by former co-workers, leading to an official investigation into the charges, his public apology for raising his voice at times – he has denied all other charges — and, last week, a resolution from board member Tamar Galatzan to censure him. A vote could come as soon as the Nov. 12 board meeting.

Censure is the board’s only self-disciplinary tool. Elected officials, including school board members, cannot be removed by a panel vote; nor does a censure carry punitive weight, aside from removal from responsibilities, like a presidency. Even so, Galatzan’s resolution was the first of its kind in the district’s history, board secretary Jefferson Crain told the Los Angeles Daily News.

“It’s basically a public wrist slap,” Maricle told LA School Report. “That’s why it tends to erode existing tensions on a board even further.”

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Galatzan Resolution: Vladovic’s Conduct ‘Has Brought Dishonor’

In her resolution before the LA Unified Board seeking a censure of Board President

Board Member Tamara Galatzan

Board Member Tamara Galatzan

Richard Vladovic, Tamar Galatzan asserts that the harassment charges against him amount to ”conduct that has brought dishonor to himself, the School Board, and the Los Angeles Unified School District.” And for that, it says, he should be censured.

The resolution also asks that Vladovic “publicly acknowledge what has taken place, take responsibility for his actions, and commit to abiding by District policies and behaving in a professional manner.”

Vladovic has consistently denied the charges, apart from acknowledging that he has raised his voice upon occasion. The charges have come to light in the last few weeks, including assertions of sexual harassment by one of his former secretaries.

Galatzan’s resolution, which comes before the board on Oct. 29, can be read in full by clicking here.

Previous Posts: Galatzan Moves to Reprimand Vladovic on Sexual HarassmentVladovic Apologizes, Escapes Further Board Action — For Now


Galatzan Moves to Reprimand Vladovic on Sexual Harassment*

Tamar Galatzan, School Board member

Tamar Galatzan, School Board member

LA Unified school board member Tamar Galatzan today filed a censure resolution with the board against its president, Richard Vladovic, a result of accusations that Vladovic verbally and sexually harassed district employees working for him.

The resolution, which Galatzan confirmed to LA School Report, now comes before the seven-member board at a regularly-scheduled meeting on Oct. 29. While members may decline to debate the issue, it will be open for public discussion at the meeting.

The earliest that a vote for censure would come is the board’s meeting on Nov. 12.

Galatzan’s action follows a fast-moving sequence of developments, starting with the district’s acknowledgement that an investigation into Vladovic’s past had been completed and partial results of two charges were released to the public. One case involved allegations of sexual harassment; the other, of verbal abuse.

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