Deasy Requests Changes to Teacher Dismissal Bill

Earlier this week, the LA Weekly honed in on the outsized influence California’s largest teachers union is perceived to have on education policy issues, including recent efforts to speed the removal of sexual predators from the classroom.

“That’s how CTA infamously killed a [2012] law to fire sex-pervert teachers, SB 1530,” LA Weekly writer Matthew Mullins wrote. “A badly watered-down version, AB 375, is alive — because CTA backs it,”

What the LA Weekly didn’t note was that the “badly watered-down” bill moving through the state legislature was amended last week or that LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy has proposed several further changes to make sure that districts have a stronger role in the dismissal process and that teachers who review dismissal cases can be removed if necessary.

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Morning Read: Unions Oppose Teacher Evaluation Bill

Teacher Evaluations: Let the Battle Begin
On Wednesday, the state Senate Education Committee will take up a bill by Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, that would adopt a formal state standard for evaluating teachers. SD Union-Tribune Editorial

A Student With Promise, a Teacher Who Had to Help
Brought to the U.S. as a baby, Itzel Ortega had no way to get financial aid to become an architect. Then a former teacher, recalling her own story, stepped in. LA Times

L.A. Unified Teacher Arrested for Alleged Child Porn Possession
Douglas Randolph Collins, 46, of Valencia, was taken into custody at the Van Nuys Education Center, where he had been sent after being removed from the classroom after authorities began investigating child porn allegations in October. LA Times
See also: LA Daily News, HuffPo

LA Mayor’s Race: How the Candidates Stand on Your Issues
Even though the mayor doesn’t have any direct authority over the Los Angeles Unified School District, many voters said they want the next major to play a role in education. Neither Greuel nor Garcetti has indicated they would follow Antonio Villaraigosa’s lead. KPCC
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Morning Read: Board Votes to Speed Dismissal Process

LAUSD Board Votes to Improve Abuse Investigations
With 278 Los Angeles Unified educators sitting in “teacher jail,” the school board voted Tuesday to streamline and improve the investigations of those accused of serious physical abuse or sexual misconduct. LA Daily News
See also: LA School Report, LA Times

L.A. Unified Board Ratifies ‘Parent-Trigger’ Partnership
The Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday ratified a partnership between the school district and a charter school to take control of struggling 24th Street Elementary under a controversial parent-empowerment law. LA Times
See also: Color Lines, LA School Report

School Board Renews Contract for Ivy Academia Charter
The petition by Ivy Academia Entreprenurial Charter School was renewed with little discussion, less than two weeks after a jury convicted its founders of grand theft, embezzlement and other charges. LA Times
See also: LA School Report

L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa Challenges on Schools
Unions and other elements of the education establishment strongly backed Antonio Villaraigosa’s steps up the political ladder – until he became an advocate of charter schools, parental empowerment, modifying teacher seniority and tenure and other reforms that the establishment despises. Sac Bee Opinion

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Board Preview Update: Discipline, Misconduct, and Dismissals

The LAUSD Board, via LA Times

The agenda for today’s School Board meeting is packed with hot-topic resolutions, including a plan to streamline LAUSD’s teacher misconduct investigation process, a call to work with state legislators to pass a new teacher dismissal bill, and a plan to reduce student suspensions and discipline for “willful defiance” in LA schools.

These topics have received scads of media coverage and statehouse activity in recent months. LAUSD Board members have obviously been paying attention, and the media is getting behind their resolutions.

Board Member Tamar Galatzan penned an op-ed published Monday in the Huffington Post that explains the rationale behind her resolution to streamline investigations of teachers who have been accused of misconduct in the classroom.

And the LA Times published an editorial piece Tuesday morning urging the School Board to approve Board President Monica Garcia’s resolution that would update schools’ discipline policies across the district and cease the suspension of students for “willful defiance.”

Read on for more details on the resolutions up for vote at today’s School Board meeting.

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Mixed Reactions to New Teacher Dismissal Bill

Assemblymember Joan Buchanan

AB 375, a new bill meant to streamline teacher dismissals, could be headed for quick passage after clearing the State Assembly’s Education Committee with a 7 – 0 vote Thursday.

The bill’s chance at passing is undoubtedly aided by the announcement last week that the state’s largest teachers union, the California Teachers Association, was joining forces with Assemblymember Joan Buchanan and Senator Alex Padilla to support AB 375.

But the alliance of Padilla and Buchanan and the quick pace of action in the statehouse have left some observers confused and concerned. Is AB 375 a watered-down teacher dismissal bill? Or have the unions, legislators, and education advocates finally come to a working compromise that will help streamline the teacher dismissal process?

Edgar Zazueta, the director of government relations for LAUSD, praised AB 375 as a “step in the right direction.”

But he also expressed reservations.

“I think we’d argue that there’s more consideration to be done here. We thank [Buchanan] for moving in the right direction, but we think we could push envelope a little further,” Zazueta said.

LAUSD, StudentsFirst, EdVoice, and Democrats for Education Reform have expressed a mix of praise and concern.

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Lawmaker Supports Former Opponent’s Teacher Dismissal Bill

State Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) announced Thursday that he was shelving SB 10, his controversial bill intended to speed up and streamline the teacher dismissal process in California public schools.

Now, Padilla plans to join forces with Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo), head of the Assembly’s Education Committee, who introduced her own alternative teacher dismissal bill this week.

Buchanan might seem like an unexpected ally for Padilla, given that Buchanan voted no (along with fellow Democrat Tom Ammiano) on the previous version of Padilla’s bill, SB 1530, which was endorsed by LAUSD and opposed by UTLA.

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Morning Read: Teacher Dismissal Bill Gets New Champion

Sen. Padilla Drops His Teacher Dismissal Bill
Two days after Assemblymember Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, introduced a bill that would make it quicker and potentially cheaper to fire teachers, Sen. Alex Padillo, D-Los Angeles, has shelved his controversial version of a teacher dismissal bill and signed on as a principal co-author of hers. EdSource

L.A.’s Mayoral Rivals Walk Fine Line in Dealing With Labor
Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel are Democrats with long histories of supporting organized labor. But the competition for labor support has upended conventional thinking about the candidates. LA Times

L.A. Unified Officials Let Abuse Allegations Slide, Lawyers Say
Two high-level district employees heard but failed to act on accusations of sexual misconduct by an elementary school teacher, according to attorneys representing alleged victims. LA Times
See also: KPCC, KTLA

LA Unified School Board Blocks Current President From Another Term
The term limit may be the first sign that fewer members on the board of education may support the reform agenda. KPCC

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Morning Read: LAUSD to Pay Millions Over Abuse Lawsuits

LAUSD to Pay Nearly $30M to Settle Miramonte Sex Abuse Lawsuits
Los Angeles Unified will pay nearly $30 million to settle claims by 58 children who say they were victims of former Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt, the veteran educator charged with committing bizarre acts of sex abuse against students, attorneys said Tuesday. LA Daily News
See also: LA Times, KPCC, AP, LA Times Now Live

LAUSD Charters Would Lose Funding Under Gov. Jerry Brown’s Budget
Wilbur Elementary got $230,000 in state grants when it converted to a charter last fall. Now, administrators at Wilbur and other affiliated charters, nearly all of them in the San Fernando Valley, are struggling with the news that they stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants if lawmakers approve Gov. Jerry Brown’s new formula for funding public education. LA Daily News

L.A. Charter School Aims to Toss Out Students With Fake Addresses
Officials at Carpenter Community Charter, a top-notch elementary, think 120 children are enrolled fraudulently. They want to make room for students who live in the neighborhood. LA Times

Try a Different tack: Hold Teachers Responsible for Education Quality
The logic of the reformers seems to be that teachers unions are so wrongheaded, and the citizenry sufficiently tired of fights about seniority and teacher evaluation, that putting forward a slate of school board candidates is the way to change the balance of power in the school district and mute the pesky union.  But the strategy hasn’t worked. EdSource Opinion

Over-Praising Preschool
Obama wants the government to fund a free year of pre-kindergarten, but studies don’t back up his claims of long-term benefits. LA Times Opinion

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Morning Read: Outside Money Pours Into Race

Outside Spending Pours Into L.A. School Board Race
Outside groups are mounting campaigns to influence the outcome of three races for seats on the Los Angeles Board of Education. LA Times
See also: LA School Report

Teachers’ Ratings Still High Despite New Measures
High teacher rating results, among the first trickling out from states’ newly revamped yardsticks, paint a picture of a K-12 system that remains hesitant to differentiate between the best and the weakest performers—as well as among all those in the middle doing a solid job who still have room to improve. EdWeek

School Principals Who Fail to Report Abuse Are Rarely Prosecuted
Principal Irene Hinojosa and teacher Robert Pimentel worked together for years, and she thought highly of Pimentel as a teacher. So when parents complained that he’d been touching girls, district officials said she disregarded the complaints. KPCC

L.A. City Workers’ Union Doesn’t Endorse Garcetti or Greuel
Members of six locals of the Service Employees International Union questioned City Controller Wendy Greuel and City Councilman Eric Garcetti, two top contenders in the race, for at least half an hour. Neither was recommended for an endorsement. LA Times

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Morning Read: LAUSD Misspent Millions in Lunch Money

L.A. Unified Misspent Millions Marked for School Lunches
At least eight California school districts have misappropriated millions of dollars in funding intended to pay for meals for low-income students — the biggest culprit being the Los Angeles Unified School District, according to a state Senate watchdog group. LA Times See also: KPCC, LA Daily News

Why Educators’ Wages Must Be Revamped Now
Some districts are spending more than they need to spend, based on what other districts show is possible. But does this excess spending imply that we can simply cut back on spending without harming students? EdWeek Commentary

Glendale Unified, Police Settle Suit Over Racial Profiling
The ACLU of Southern California announced Wednesday that it had reached settlements with the city of Glendale and the Glendale Unified School District on behalf of eight Latino students who alleged that officials engaged in racial profiling and illegal searches during a 2010 incident at Hoover High School. LA Times

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Morning Read: Brown’s Funding Accountability Plan

Brown Details How to Hold Districts Accountable Under Funding Reform
Responding to criticism that he is offering flexibility without accountability, Gov. Jerry Brown has offered up specifics on how he would hold school districts responsible for extra money he is proposing to give them for high-needs children under his proposed sweeping reforms of how California schools are funded. EdSource

California Wants to Ramp up Its Technical Education and Career Training Programs
California education officials want to expand and promote career and technical education classes offered by public schools. KPCC

Education Miracles That Aren’t
In seeking reform models, L.A. Unified should be cautious about untested solutions. LA Times Editorial

Detectives Investigating Ex-Priest’s Conduct With Girl, Then 16
Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives have launched an investigation of an ex-priest and L.A. school district employee about a sexual relationship he allegedly had with a 16-year-old in the late 1980s, The Times has learned. LA Times

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Morning Read: Hollywood Entering Board Race

Big Hollywood Donors Enter School Board Race for First Time
Hollywood donates a lot of money to national political campaigns. Big players in “the industry” have also donated to Los Angeles City Hall races over the years. But L.A. Unified school board races have been way off the radars of these big donors. Until now. KPCC

L.A. Mayoral Candidates Talk Education
Los Angeles’ mayoral candidates took a break Sunday from the acrimony that has marked their race in recent days.   Instead, the candidates took part in an education forum, skipping the halftime show to discuss their plans as mayor to help the city’s beleaguered schools. LA Times

A Brief Overview of Teacher Evaluation Controversies
Why is it so hard to determine what makes a good teacher? The answer is both complicated and polarizing. In recent education reform history, judging teacher evaluations has become as much an issue as how to evaluate student achievement. NPR

L.A. Archdiocese Says It Warned LAUSD Not to Hire Former Priest
L.A. Archdiocese spokesperson Tod Tamberg said the diocese has sent notices to the LAUSD regarding people accused of misconduct who either have current or former ties to the district, and have offered to share information over the phone. KCET
See also: LA Times, LA Daily News

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Morning Read: Parent Trigger Lessons for LAUSD

L.A. Parent Group Applies Lessons From Compton, Adelanto Efforts to Take Over School 
The 24th Street Elementary School Parent Union has received eight letters of interest from groups wanting a chance to reform the school. Six are from established charter schools, one is from a retired 24th Street teacher and one is from L.A. Unified itself. San Bernadino Sun

L.A.’s First Hebrew-Language Charter School Raises Questions
Lashon Academy is to teach modern Hebrew, have no religious component and aim for a diverse student body. But some worry that dual-language charters blur the line between public and private schools. LA Times

Teachers Union Is Backing Garcetti With Words, but No Money
The union that represents Los Angeles Unified School District teachers has weighed in on the city’s March 5 municipal election and backed Eric Garcetti for mayor. KPCC

School Turnarounds Prompt Community Backlash
The federal government’s push for drastic reforms at chronically low achieving schools has led to takeovers by charter operators, overhauls of staff and curriculum, and even school shutdowns across the country. AP

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Morning Read: Meet the East Valley Candidates

Meet the Candidates: LAUSD School Board District 6, East Valley
The next person to represent District 6, which includes schools in areas such as San Fernando, Pacoima, Panorama City and Sun Valley, will hold the position during a critical period. I Am San Fernando Blog
See also: LA School Report

New System Allows More Students to Get College Cal Grants
For some high school seniors, applying to college is stressful enough. An added layer of having to search for their grade point average and Social Security number was enough for thousands not to bother seeking financial aid.  Now, Los Angeles Unified School District students can breathe a little easier. LA Times

L.A. Unified Students Face Off in Healthful Cooking Contest
Teams from six high schools whip up balanced meals following rules on calories, fat, sodium and simplicity. The winners advance to the national level, and their creations will join the district menu. LA Times
See also: LA Daily News

L.A. School District Sued Over Sexual Abuse of Students
The Los Angeles Unified School District was sued for failing to prevent the alleged sexual abuse of students by an elementary school teacher who was arrested last year. Bloomberg
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Morning Read: CA Charter Law Ranked 7th

Report Ranks California’s Charter School Laws 7th Strongest in Nation
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools ranked California 7th for its charter school laws among the 42 states and the District of Columbia that have passed laws allowing charter schools. EdSource

L.A. Schools Supt. Deasy, 4 Predecessors Named in Miramonte Lawsuit
The lawsuit alleges that the superintendents created an environment in which administrators were advised to dismiss complaints of misconduct, shielded teachers from scrutiny and kept allegations from being reported to state authorities and law enforcement. LA Times
See also: LA Daily News, AP, ABC LA

Applying for Kindergarten: What to Do If Your Child Is Too Young
It’s that time of the year when parents of four and five year old’s are busy with school tours and applications to secure a kindergarten spot. KPCC

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Morning Read: Who Will Follow Mayor’s Ed. Lead?

Antonio Villaraigosa Led The Way on Education Reform, but His Potential Successors Are Reluctant to Pick up the Torch
For the last eight years, education reformers have had a staunch ally in the L.A. mayor’s office. But in a few months, Villaraigosa will be gone. LA Weekly
See also:  USC Annenberg, LA School Report

LAUSD to Compete With Charters to Run ‘Parent Trigger’ School
The parents at 24th Street Elementary School in Los Angeles Unified will have plenty of choices for an operator to take over their school under the “parent trigger” process they initiated this month. One of the contenders will be the district itself. EdSource
See also: LA Weekly, KPCC

Former State Senator Martha Escutia Calls for LAUSD Probe
In the wake of yet another sex abuse arrest in the Los Angeles Unified School District, former state Sen. Martha Escutia came to a Wilmington elementary school Monday to call for an LAUSD investigation into what she believes is a pattern of such abuse against Latino youth by teachers in low-income areas. LA Daily News
See also: LA Times

Second Parent Says Principal Ignored Concerns About Accused Teacher
Maria Zacapa, whose child is now in the eighth grade, said her son told her four years ago that Robert Pimental had touched a girl in his fourth-grade class in a way that made Zacapa’s son feel uncomfortable. LA Times

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Morning Read: Incumbents Lead on Direct Contributions

LA Election Fundraising Tops $18M
In races for the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, incumbents easily outpace challengers. LA Daily News

L.A. Unified’s College-Prep Push Is Based on False Data
San Jose’s school district, which requires all students to pass the classes necessary to apply to California universities, initially reported strong results. But its success was overstated. Those results should raise warning flags for other school systems, including Los Angeles Unified, that based key policy decisions on San Jose’s misreported data. LA Times

LAUSD Plans to Add 1,000 New Campus Aides for Security at Elementary Schools
The Los Angeles Unified School District plans to make more than 1,000 new hires to bolster security at hundreds of campuses in a move some critics have called “security on the cheap.” LA Daily News
See also: KPCC, LA Times

State Legislators Seek Crackdown on Expensive Form of School Finance
Two state lawmakers moved on Friday to crack down on a costly method of finance that hundreds of school districts have been relying on to pay for new construction. LA Times

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Morning Read: Reform vs. Union in Board Race

It’s Reform vs. the Union in LAUSD Race
The future of Los Angeles’ public-education reform is at stake on March 5. That’s not hyperbole; that’s the truth about what could happen next election day. LA Daily News Editorial
See also: LA School Report

LAUSD Principal Failed to Report Alleged Molestation by Teacher
A now-retired principal twice failed to report accusations of sexual misconduct by a teacher who this week was charged with molesting 12 students at a Wilmington elementary school, officials said. LA Times
See also: Daily Beast, CS Monitor, LA Daily News, KPCC

Teachers Union Joins Suit Against Release of Ratings
The teachers union for the L.A. Unified School District was granted court permission Thursday to join a Los Angeles Times lawsuit seeking access to teacher ratings so it can argue they are based on an unreliable mathematical formula and should not be disclosed to the public. LA Times

Gov. Brown Uses State of the State Speech to Push Education Reforms
As if speaking from a pulpit, Brown warned of fire and brimstone if bureaucracy and inequity isn’t wiped clean from the state education system. KPCC

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Morning Read: Former Teacher Accused of Molestation

Ex-LAUSD Teacher Accused of Abusing 20 Children
A former Los Angeles Unified School District teacher was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of committing lewd acts and sexually abusing 20 children and an adult, law enforcement authorities said. LA Times
See also: ABC LA

Plan to Supply LAUSD Students With Tablet Computers Wins Key Vote
Los Angeles Unified students may be closer to stepping into classrooms of the future where much of the world’s knowledge is right at their fingertips. LA Daily News

Listen: Is the ‘Parent Trigger’ Finally Being Given a Chance?
For the first time since the era of school reform began, the Los Angeles Unified School District has accepted a petition from angry parents demanding “immediate and significant” change in a public school. KCRW

LAUSD Board Candidate Iris Zuniga Drops out of Race for Nury Martinez Seat
Iris Zuniga, one of five candidates to succeed LAUSD board member Nury Martinez in the East San Fernando Valley, announced Wednesday she has dropped out of the Distrct 6 race. LA Daily News
See also: LA Times, LA School Report

ACLU: State, School Districts Failing English Learners
More than 20,000 students whose first language isn’t English are not getting proper instruction according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which threatened California education officials with a lawsuit Wednesday. KPCC

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