Beutner Calls For More Transparency and Touts Graduation Rate

Beutner Calls For More Transparency and Touts Graduation Rate

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner delivered his State of Schools address Thursday morning, vowing to support school leaders in the hard work of ensuring every student in the district gets the best possible education, and announcing an all-time record high graduation rate surpassing 78% for the Class of 2019.

“Quite an improvement from 62% just a decade ago,” Beutner said to the nearly 2,000 school administrators, district officials and representatives from community organizations that help LAUSD who attended the annual event held at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown Los Angeles. Only about a dozen parent representatives were present.

Board President Richard Vladovic, who spoke briefly before Beutner, asked the principals in the audience to partner with parents in helping students succeed in this new school year. “More than ever, it’s important that we welcome parents and we make them feel safe,” he said.

Beutner spoke for just shy of 20 minutes but addressed many of the challenges the district faces, including its dire finances and the persistent achievement gap for certain student groups such as English learners and special education students.

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Complaint to State Accuses LAUSD of Improper Handling of Funds for High-Needs Kids

Complaint to State Accuses LAUSD of Improper Handling of Funds for High-Needs Kids

The nonprofit law firm Public Advocates has filed a complaint against the Los Angeles Unified School District on behalf of parents alleging that the district is failing to properly account for $2 billion in funds that are supposed to be directed to needy low-income kids, English language learners and foster youth.

The complaint filed with the California Department of Education asks for immediate intervention from the state to invalidate LAUSD’s new Local Control Accountability Plan – a state-required plan specifying how it intends to help high-needs kids  – which it alleges LAUSD posted on its website June 28, 10 days after a different LCAP was approved by the LAUSD Board.

The complaint said that this new LCAP and budget overview were never vetted by the public, are twice as long as what was approved by the board and made substantial changes to LAUSD’s Foster Youth program without any public review, which is required by law. The complaint also questions whether the additional state funds provided under the Local Control Funding Formula are actually being used to help needy kids.

“To make LCFF really transform our schools, the district has to be transparent about its spending, and they must trust us, the parents, to have something valuable to contribute,” said Ana Carrion, parent of a 12-year-old LAUSD student, one of two parents who signed onto the complaint.

“Tragically, LAUSD’s LCAPs are so rife with fundamental errors that they undermine basic notions of transparency and equity and thwart meaningful efforts at local engagement and accountability,” the complaint said.

The complaint also alleges that the Los Angeles County Office of Education is aware of the problem but has“failed to ensure LAUSD follows the law.”

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Vladovic Takes Helm of LAUSD Board, Promises to Focus on ‘Finding the Money’ and Lifting Student Achievement

Vladovic Takes Helm of LAUSD Board, Promises to Focus on ‘Finding the Money’ and Lifting Student Achievement

With Richard Vladovic taking over as president of the Los Angeles Unified School Board during his final year in office, the board has an opportunity to forge a middle-ground path toward stabilizing LAUSD finances and lifting student achievement at low-performing schools. 

Vladovic (BD7) has long been considered a swing vote on the board, sometimes siding with education reformers and sometimes with union activists, who joined forces this spring to campaign for Measure EE in hopes of bringing more revenue to LAUSD.

Given the failure of Measure EE at the ballot box, Vladovic is taking the helm of the board at a challenging time. The district is expected to lay off employees in August in an attempt to balance its budget and satisfy county overseers, who have complained about the district’s deficit spending and $12 billion unfunded retiree healthcare liabilities.

Vladovic told the board he hopes to bring employee labor unions to the table to discuss ways to fix things, and he struck a conciliatory tone. “I don’t want to talk about cuts,” he said. “We’re going to talk about finding the money.”

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LAUSD Waives Parent Fundraising Fees For One Year

LAUSD Waives Parent Fundraising Fees For One Year

The LAUSD Board voted to temporarily waive fees charged to parent-teacher organizations and booster clubs when they hold one-day school fundraising events on campus.

The decision to waive fees for one year charged to PTAs, PTOs and boosters, as well as to simplify forms and put them online in multiple languages, came out of a working group created to make parent participation easier at LAUSD. It follows a decision by the district to waive fees charged to fingerprint parents who want to volunteer on campus. 

“I really appreciate that the district has listened to feedback from parents about how much red tape exists to support their children’s schools and is taking this step toward bringing families in rather than pushing them away,” said Board Vice President Nick Melvoin (BD4), who has been advocating since he joined the board to change arcane rules that penalize parents and organizations that serve students.

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LAUSD Votes to Phase Out Random ‘Wanding’ Searches and Tells Parents to Lock Up Their Guns

LAUSD Votes to Phase Out Random ‘Wanding’ Searches and Tells Parents to Lock Up Their Guns

How do we keep kids safe from gun violence in school without making them feel like criminals? That was the dominant question posed by the LAUSD Board Tuesday, which voted 4-3 to phase out its controversial “wanding” policy to randomly search students with hand-held metal detectors, while also voting to tell parents to lock up their guns at home so kids can’t bring them to school.

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Parents Rip District For Failing Needy Students

Parents Rip District For Failing Needy Students

As Los Angeles Unified released new data showing widespread achievement gaps and rising rates of chronic absenteeism, parent leaders serving on LAUSD’s central committees ripped into the district for its budget and accountability plan to help needy students.

“You spend millions and millions on professional development that are not yielding results,” parent Diana Guillen from MacArthur Park told the board in Spanish Tuesday. “We see this reflected in Measure EE that was not approved. Parents are not trustful of the district and how they manage the money. You have already received $800 million for students that have needs. We truly are not seeing academic progress on behalf of the students. There are programs, there are plans, but there are no real results…No one is accountable.”

Guillen was one of several parents from LAUSD’s Parent Advisory Committee and District English Learner Advisory Committee who aired complaints during the public hearing on the Local Control Accountability Plan, which is required by state law to measure outcomes for its most vulnerable kids in exchange for more flexibility on how to spend the money.

LAUSD released an equity scorecard with new data from 2017-18 showing that chronic absenteeism rose from 11% to 15%. The rate of students missing 16 days or more was highest among African American students (25%), students with disabilities (22%) and foster youth (21%), all groups that continue to suffer from large achievement gaps.

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Days After EE Fails, LAUSD Submits ‘Tenuous’ Budget Plan That Freezes Wages and Healthcare Costs 

Days After EE Fails, LAUSD Submits ‘Tenuous’ Budget Plan That Freezes Wages and Healthcare Costs 

Two days after voters rejected a measure to provide new funding to Los Angeles schools, LAUSD unveiled a new three-year budget that freezes future employee wages and healthcare costs, which LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner acknowledged was essentially a fiction generated to satisfy the requirements of county regulators.

 “It’s just not the real world,” Beutner said.

That’s because healthcare costs are actually rising, and the deal to keep healthcare payments flat expires next December, at which point district healthcare contributions are subject to labor negotiations with all its employee unions. Employee wage contracts will also be coming up for negotiations again.

Beutner admitted that this budget was intended to meet the letter of the law while buying more time to find new revenue now that voters have rejected Measure EE.

“As we look at the third year of this forecast, it’s tenuous,” Beutner said. “It’s tenuous because it assumes there are no wage increases. We’d expect to provide a wage increase to those who work in schools. We don’t expect our healthcare costs to remain flat. The third year is probably optimistic in terms of what reality might look like, in which case we don’t have the funding to provide for that third year.”

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Voters Reject Parcel Tax Needed to Pay For Contract Promises Made to Settle UTLA Strike  

Voters Reject Parcel Tax Needed to Pay For Contract Promises Made to Settle UTLA Strike  

Despite 80 percent public support for the United Teachers Los Angeles strike in January, voters on Tuesday decisively rejected Measure EE, the parcel tax that was needed to pay for promises made to settle the strike, such as lower class sizes and more hiring of nurses, counselors and librarians.

With a two-thirds majority needed to pass it, only 45.6% of voters supported the measure, while 54.3% voted no. Some mail-in ballots are still outstanding, but with 100% of precincts reporting on election night, 304,321 of the the 2.4 million eligible voters turned out to vote.

“We are deeply disappointed that Los Angeles voters did not support efforts to increase education funding for L.A. kids,” said Speak UP Founder and CEO Katie Braude. “Our parents worked very hard to pass this, and we will not give up efforts to lift California from its abysmal position near the bottom of states in education funding. I know that we can do better, and our kids deserve more.”

The results are a huge defeat for both UTLA and Mayor Eric Garcetti, who had urged Los Angeles Unified to take a “leap of faith” by making promises to settle the strike that the district could not afford without additional revenue. As a result of EE’s failure, Los Angeles Unified now has no way to pay for the third year of its new UTLA contract and may have to revisit some of those promises or make deep and painful cuts to both programs and staff.

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After Swearing In, Goldberg Calls for Supporters to Campaign for EE, Criticizes Use of Bond Funds for Charter Facilities

After Swearing In, Goldberg Calls for Supporters to Campaign for EE, Criticizes Use of Bond Funds for Charter Facilities

Jackie Goldberg was sworn in as the new LAUSD Board Member in District 5 Tuesday and then immediately called on her supporters to hit the streets again to help pass Measure EE, the parcel tax that will raise $500 million a year for Los Angeles public schools, district and charter.

For a wealthy state like California to be in the low 40s in per pupil spending on education is unacceptable, Goldberg said. “In Yiddish we call that a shanda – a shame,” she said. “It is our duty, all of our duty. Those you who spent all of your time getting me elected, I need you now to spend all of your time on EE.”

Shortly after that unifying message for more funding, however, Goldberg turned her attention to complaining about bond funds that voters had specifically allocated to public charter schools to get co-located classrooms ready for kids or to build new school sites so they don’t have to share district facilities.

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Goldberg Victory Means New Majority-White Board Remains Without Any Parents of Kids in L.A. Schools

Goldberg Victory Means New Majority-White Board Remains Without Any Parents of Kids in L.A. Schools

With veteran politician Jackie Goldberg returning to the LAUSD Board to represent District 5 nearly 30 years after she left, a majority-Latino district will now be run by a majority-white Board that remains bereft of any parents of school-age children.

Goldberg defeated L.A. Unified parent Heather Repenning 72-28 percent with a paltry 7.7 percent voter turnout. Her victory signals an increase in the power of United Teachers Los Angeles in the wake of the January strike, which could complicate the efforts of Superintendent Austin Beutner to rein in district spending at a moment when the County is threatening to take over.

“This is not the end, this is the beginning,” Goldberg told her supporters after initial results came in Tuesday night.

Because this was a special election to fill the seat vacated by Board member Ref Rodriguez, who resigned last summer, Goldberg will only hold the position for about a year before another primary election is held next March. BD5 includes gentrifying neighborhoods of Los Feliz and Echo Park, as well as overwhelmingly Latino Southeast cities of Huntington Park, South Gate, Vernon and Cudahy.

The loss of a Latino representative in District 5 means four of seven LAUSD Board members are now white, despite the fact that 90 percent of L.A. Unified students are kids of color.

“Congratulations to Ms. Goldberg. We hope and trust that she will focus her attention on improving the outcomes for the kids in her district who are least well-served by their local schools,” said Speak UP Founder and CEO Katie Braude. “And we hope she is sincere when she says the families in the Southeast won’t be ignored.”

Goldberg’s victory also poses a potential threat to the future of charter schools in Los Angeles and the 20 percent of L.A. students served by them, the vast majority of whom are low-income kids of color.

“The only reason I came out of retirement is that I can beat the people who are running the charter candidates,” Goldberg, who also served on the City Council and in the state Assembly, said early in her campaign. The California Charter Schools Association, which has been a main funder in previous school board races, chose not to fight Goldberg or endorse any candidate in the primary or the runoff.

Instead, the race shaped up to be a battle between two unions: UTLA, and SEIU Local 99, the union representing bus drivers, janitors, special education aides and cafeteria workers, which backed Repenning, a former deputy and close ally to Mayor Eric Garcetti.

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Speak UP Joins Coalition to Bring More Money to Los Angeles Schools

Speak UP Joins Coalition to Bring More Money to Los Angeles Schools

Speak UP has joined a coalition campaigning for passage of Measure EE, which is expected to generate $500 million a year for all Los Angeles public schools, both district and charter. The coalition campaigning for Yes On EE includes Great Public Schools Now, Parent Revolution, United Teachers Los Angeles and SEIU Local 99, the union representing LAUSD bus drivers and cafeteria workers. 

Speak UP parents began going door to door this week to encourage friends and neighbors to head to the polls June 4 to vote yes on Measure EE, which would charge 16 cents per square foot on commercial and residential property. If it passes, nearly 80% of these funds will come from commercial property owners.  

"It's shameful that California, one of the wealthiest states in the nation, remains near the bottom in per pupil funding,” said Speak UP Founder and CEO Katie Braude. “Los Angeles voters now have a chance to begin to change that trajectory for more than half a million kids. Our kids deserve these funds, and if we want to have any chance of reducing class sizes and putting more resources in our kids' classrooms, Measure EE must pass. We plan to do everything we can to help make that happen." 

Because the turnout is expected to be so low for this election—the experts are forecasting between 8% and 16%—every vote counts. And every vote is needed since the measure requires two-thirds approval for passage.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has thrown his support behind the measure, praised Speak UP and its coalition partners for their efforts. 

“When it comes to Measure EE and fighting for our kids, we're all in the fight together,” Garcetti said. “I am grateful that Great Public Schools Now, Parent Revolution and Speak UP are working so hard to pass Measure EE and lower class sizes in every school.” 

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LAUSD Tests Prototype For School Performance Framework That Emphasizes Student Growth

 LAUSD Tests Prototype For School Performance Framework That Emphasizes Student Growth

LAUSD is testing a prototype of a new system to evaluate the performance of all L.A. public schools based on student academic achievement, academic growth, school climate and college and career readiness. The School Performance Framework, which stemmed from a resolution the Board passed last April, will have a soft launch in June and is expected to roll out fully in the fall. 

The model being tested, which was unveiled to a stakeholder working group in April, places the greatest weight (40%) on growth in students’ math and English scores on Smarter Balanced (SBAC) standardized tests.

“Growth is a large portion of the School Performance Framework, and that came directly from feedback at stakeholder meetings,” said LAUSD’s senior executive director of strategy and innovation, Derrick Chau, who has been leading the working group made up of labor leaders, district staffers, parents, school leaders and education nonprofit leaders, including Katie Braude, the executive director of Speak UP. “Folks wanted to make sure that schools receive credit for helping students improve.”

Board Member Kelly Gonez (BD6) said that part of her impetus for authoring the School Performance Framework resolution was to address the fact that the California School Dashboard doesn’t measure student academic growth. 

“Some of our schools have incoming students who are behind, but achieve multiple years of learning [in a single year] once at their new school,” she said. “Progress should absolutely be recognized and celebrated. The School Performance Framework emphasizes student growth so that our schools are meeting students where they are, and we are not penalizing schools serving our highest-needs populations of kids.” 

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African American Parents Raise Voices to Help Black Students Achieve

African American Parents Raise Voices to Help Black Students Achieve

African American parents and students raised their voices at the LAUSD Board meeting Tuesday in support of resolutions that passed unanimously to boost the academic achievement of African American students and to consider giving students age 16 and above the right to vote in school board elections.   

Speak UP parent Tunette Powell, an educator and mom to three Black boys from South Los Angeles, advocated for the resolution from Board Members George McKenna (BD1) and Kelly Gonez (BD6) to help close the academic opportunity and achievement gap for African American students. But Powell described the problem as an “education debt” and urged the board to provide the financial, staff and policy investments needed to make it work.

“This nation took from African Americans and has not given back or made the direct investments necessary,” Powell said. “If we want to do something different and change the tide, as a district we will have to admit and accept the debt, and begin making investments to pay the debt off.”

Only 32 percent of African American students met or exceeded standards in English Language Arts last year, and only 20 percent in math, compared to 42 percent in English and 32 percent in math for all other student groups. African American students are disproportionately identified for special education services and are under-represented in gifted and talented programs. African American students also receive 26 percent of all suspensions, even though they make up just 8 percent of the student population.

The resolution calls for a five-year action plan with “academic and social emotional supports” to lift achievement for African American students. Several speakers urged the board to add teeth to the resolution with more specific outcome benchmarks and oversight.

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LAUSD Board Creates Independent Taxpayer Oversight Committee To Make Sure Parcel Tax Funds Are Spent To Help Kids

LAUSD Board Creates Independent Taxpayer Oversight Committee To Make Sure Parcel Tax Funds Are Spent To Help Kids

LAUSD Board on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution to create an Independent Taxpayer Oversight Committee to report on the spending of any funds generated by measure EE, the proposed school parcel tax that voters will consider on June 4.

The committee will be tasked to report on whether parcel tax funds are spent for the purposes outlined in the measure, whether they’re spent equitably and whether they lead to better student achievement, more college readiness and fiscal stability at LAUSD. An independent audit firm will report on how funds are spent by the district and independent charter schools.

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As Voters Consider School Parcel Tax, LACOE Threatens Takeover...Again

As Voters Consider School Parcel Tax, LACOE Threatens Takeover...Again

Los Angeles County Office of Education Superintendent Debra Duardo is once again warning LAUSD that the County may step in and take decision-making authority away from the LAUSD Board if it fails to adequately address concerns about fiscal solvency and submit a budget that maintains the required minimum reserve funds.

The sternly worded letter from LACOE is the latest in a series of warnings from the agency that oversees LAUSD’s budget, which took the unprecedented step in January of assigning a team of fiscal experts to help. The letter also arrives as voters consider whether to support a parcel tax on the June ballot to increase school funding.

LACOE gave LAUSD a "qualified certification," citing district failure to address deficit spending, which has led to a "distressed financial condition." LACOE also cited "inattention" to LAUSD's $15.2 billion unfunded retiree healthcare liabilities (the promises made to future retirees, which the district has not set aside money to pay for) and its "inability to consider long-term effects of collective bargaining agreements."

The LAUSD Board at last month’s meeting approved a Fiscal Stabilization Plan that included a 15 percent reduction in central office staff, but the budget the district submitted to the County still fell $3 million short of balancing the budget and maintaining the required 1 percent reserve fund through the 2020-21 school year. 

The budget projections get even worse the following year. Unless a parcel tax passes, LAUSD is expected to have $749 million less than it’s required by law to keep in the bank by 2021-22.

LACOE is requiring LAUSD to work with its fiscal expert team to submit a new Fiscal Stabilization Plan by July 1 that shows a balanced budget with the required minimum reserves in the bank for the next three years.

“The District continues to demonstrate indicators of fiscal distress that must be addressed,” Duardo’s letter said. “Should the Governing Board fail to address all concerns identified in this letter, or fail to submit a 2019-20 Adopted Budget that meets the minimum reserve in any fiscal year, the County Superintendent is prepared to take further action that may include … assigning a Fiscal Advisor with stay and rescind authority over Governing Board actions.” 

That threat means the County could take over, remove local control from the LAUSD Board and start making unilateral cuts.

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LAUSD Will Fall $749 Million Below Required Reserve Fund Level in 2021-22 Unless Parcel Tax Passes

LAUSD Will Fall $749 Million Below Required Reserve Fund Level in 2021-22 Unless Parcel Tax Passes

Unless Los Angeles voters support a parcel tax in June, LAUSD will fall $749 million below the required 1 percent reserve levels during the 2021-22 school year, according to projections from LAUSD Chief Financial Officer Scott Price.

Price presented the latest incarnation of LAUSD’s required “fiscal stabilization plan” to the LAUSD Board Tuesday, which voted 4-1 to approve it. Board Member Scott Schmerelson (BD3) voted no, and George McKenna (BD1) abstained.

That plan was required by the Los Angeles County Office Of Education to show that LAUSD can balance its budget for the next three years. It includes a 15 percent reduction in central office staff at LAUSD’s Beaudry headquarters and in local district offices.

One of the positions listed on the chopping block is the deputy superintendent of schools currently occupied by Vivian Ekchian. That cut alone would save $300,000. It’s unclear whether Ekchian, who served as interim superintendent before Superintendent Austin Beutner was hired, will leave the district or take another position at LAUSD.

She did not return an email seeking comment, and Senior Executive Director of Finance and Policy Pedro Salcido said LAUSD is focused on reducing budgets on specific offices by a targeted amount rather than eliminating specific individual jobs. “There are still decisions being made on central office staff and what that will look like,” Salcido said. “But as you are making reductions in offices, one of the better ways to couch it is in positions, but it doesn’t exactly mean that it will translate into elimination of a deputy superintendent.”

While cutting bureaucratic staff at LAUSD’s Beaudry headquarters, the district is planning to drive more money to school sites, where students may see benefits in reduced class sizes, more nurses, counselors and librarians – all changes that United Teachers Los Angeles pushed for in its new contract.

“We are investing in schools,” Price said. “Those are the benefits those parents will see in each of their local schools.”

The current fiscal stabilization plan and the required three-year budget forecast will take the district through the year 2020-21, and even with the plan in place, LAUSD is projected to fall $3 million below the required reserve amount in 2020-2021. But in June, LAUSD will be required to show its plan for the following school year, too, and at that point LAUSD will move deep into the red unless new revenue is found or more cuts are made.

If the Measure EE parcel tax passes, it will add an estimated $350 million a year to the bottom line of LAUSD (and some smaller amount to independent charter schools) starting next January. That would reduce some of LAUSD’s persistent financial problems. “It would change the dialogue of this district,” Price said.

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LAUSD School Board Votes To Put Parcel Tax on June Ballot

LAUSD School Board Votes To Put Parcel Tax on June Ballot

The LAUSD Board voted unanimously Thursday  to put a parcel tax measure on the June 4 ballot. If it gets the support of two-thirds of voters, it will bring in an estimated $500 million annually in additional funding for both traditional district schools and independent charter schools in Los Angeles. Schools would begin seeing these funds in January.

The ballot measure calls for a tax of 16 cents per square foot for real estate parcels within district boundaries. Senior citizens 65 and older who occupy a property as their primary residence may apply for an exemption, as can those receiving certain types of Social Security benefits, regardless of age.

The idea of a parcel tax was first floated last year, but internal LAUSD polling showed that there was not enough public support to pass it last November. The six-day teachers strike in January, however, raised public awareness about LAUSD’s financial crisis and increased support for public education. The Board decided the best time to act is now.

“There has probably never been greater public momentum for increasing public school funding, thanks to the heightened awareness about California’s dismal 44th in the nation status on per pupil funding,” said Katie Braude, Executive Director of Speak UP, in her testimony before the board. Braude was one of about 20 advocates who spoke in favor of the resolution, though not without conditions.

“We cannot expect taxpayers to put more money into a system that has failed to close the achievement gap for our most vulnerable kids for decades, without also assuring them that there is independent oversight on how the money is spent,” Braude added. She also called for an independent citizens’ committee "to annually audit the expenditures and require that the district demonstrate how they are being used to close the achievement gap.”           

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LAUSD Board Says Schools And Students Are Stuck With Ineffective Teachers

LAUSD Board Says Schools And Students Are Stuck With Ineffective Teachers

A resolution designed to empower school principals to hire the best candidates for open teaching positions at their schools, rather than be saddled with so-called ‘must place’ teachers, failed on a 2-4 vote at Tuesday’s LAUSD board meeting.

Despite enthusiastic support from district parents, the Empowering Schools and Teachers resolution from Board Vice President Nick Melvoin (BD4) seemed doomed from the start of the meeting. It was only minutes in when co-sponsor Richard Vladovic (BD7) asked that his name be removed. Board President Monica Garcia (BD2) added her name as co-sponsor in his place, but she was the only yes vote. 

“I’m supporting this resolution because I feel like local control matters,” Garcia said.

Board Member Kelly Gonez (BD6) said she was “philosophically in support of this resolution,” but she had too many questions about cost and potential conflicts with the current United Teachers Los Angeles contract.

Speak UP parents were among those who made impassioned pleas for the resolution’s passage.  

“No principal should be forced to hire from a must place list,” said Roxann Nazario, a parent from Board District 6 who is considering enrolling her daughter in a district middle school but has reservations because of the policy. “There has to come a point when an ineffective teacher can be let go.”

Raquel Toscano, BD5, told of a family member abused by a teacher. “If you vote no, how many more children will be victims and will go through the same?”

Both Nazario and Toscano expressed pointed frustration and disappointment with Vladovic, who made a conspicuous exit immediately before the public speaking period on the resolution.

Vladovic had walked out of the meeting soon after Melvoin raised concerns about renaming a school after an administrator who had been accused of failing to properly “share sufficient details regarding allegations” of employee sexual abuse, according to an investigative report by a law firm LAUSD hired, which was obtained by the Los Angeles Times. Vladovic was so upset that Melvoin did not support the school being named after his friend that he withdrew his co-sponsorship of Melvoin’s resolution in response, one source said.

Last fall, Vladovic told the Board that the district should apologize to parents because ineffective teachers had ruined their kids’ lives. But on Tuesday, Vladovic made it clear that his post-strike allegiance was now firmly with the teachers union. “We ought to do it collaboratively with UTLA,” he said. “I think UTLA and the district have the same interest. We want to have the best in front of our children. I think we can work it out as a family.”

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Principals Should Have Freedom To Choose Teachers That Best Fit Their Schools

Principals Should Have Freedom To Choose Teachers That Best Fit Their Schools

The LAUSD Board will vote on a resolution Tuesday to give principals more power to choose teachers that best fit their schools and to ensure that teachers are not forced to take assignments at schools against their wishes.

It’s long past time LAUSD ended forced hiring, and the Board should pass this resolution from Board Members Nick Melvoin (BD4) and Richard Vladovic (BD7) in order to help improve both school performance and teacher morale.

“I’ve heard consistently from parents and principals, they want the autonomy to choose the teachers that are right for that school,” Melvoin told Speak UP. “The most important factor in the quality of a kid’s education is the quality of the teacher. School site leaders have a vested interest in making sure they have effective teachers. If you just empower that group of people and let them choose great teachers, instruction will improve.”

The Board already recognized the importance of hiring the right teachers to turning around low-performing schools when it decided last June to exempt the bottom 25 percent of schools from being forced to accept must-place teachers they didn’t want. But there are many schools above the bottom 25 percent where students are also struggling to succeed. No school should be forced to accept teachers that are not a fit, and this resolution would codify the policy across the entire district.

Melvoin also believes that happy teachers are more effective teachers, and principals at low-performing schools have confirmed that teachers who are forced to work at a school against their will rarely do a great job. Principals often prefer substitutes to must-place teachers.

“The idea is to respect teachers as professionals and not put them where they don’t want to be teaching,’ Melvoin said. “A teacher is going to be happier if they’re at a school they want to be at. Happier employees are usually more productive.”  

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