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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 10/9/15

Attempting to Obtain Information Through a Looking Glass

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Earlier this year, I detailed the case of a Nobel Charter Middle School parent who had received what the LAUSD calls a "disruptive parent letter" from Principal Derek Horowitz. The parent had been active in pushing for change at the school and felt that this letter had been issued in attempt to silence her. When reviewing the state-mandated Local Control and Accountability Plan and Annual Update Template, it became apparent that this may be a district-wide problem as one of the requests made by the Parent Advisory Committee was for "a formal District policy which includes authentic impartial fact-finding and an appeal process to be utilized by parents who have any unresolved issues with site administrators, or who experience mistreatment, discrimination, harassment, or retaliation in any form, including the issuance of a 'disruptive parent letter' against them." In attempt to learn how many of these letters were issued within the LAUSD during the last school year I submitted a Public Records Act request to the district.

In my new blog at the K-12 News Network I detail how far the LAUSD will go to avoid divulging information to its stakeholders. This includes ignoring the deadlines specified in the law, using 1984ish doublespeak to avoid answering questions, and overstating the technical requirements needed to search records in order to delay the release of information. Despite these efforts, one fact was released that betrays the district's stated goal of enabling "parent and community engagement;" they do not capture "specific data on disruptive parent letters."

Since Disruptive Parent Letters specifically limit a parent's involvement in their child's education, including the ability to become an authorized volunteer, the Superintendent's office has an obligation to track if these letters are being used to keep students safe, or like teacher jail, have morphed into a way to bully stakeholders into blind obedience. At the very minimum, the district should understand how many of these letters have been issued and if some schools are using them more than others, but the Office of the General Council's response demonstrates that this is not being done.

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Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, a member of the LAUSD's CAC, and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action endorsed him, and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a " (more...)

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