The Shirley communities car protest of the work being done to enable a co-location by Citizens of the World Charter
(Image by Save Shirley Elementary) Details DMCA"The district is as much to blame as Citizens of the World. The district makes it very easy for these people to invade our schools. Shame on Lausd."
-Shirley Ave. Elementary Supporter
Since March 16, all schools within the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) have been shut down in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Given the unprecedented nature of this closure, it is not surprising that the district has struggled to provide students with the services they need. This is particularly true for children with severe special education needs, many of whom are not receiving the services specified in the Individualized Education Program contracts signed by their parents.
Days after the LAUSD's action, the city and county of Los Angeles issued the "Safer At Home" public health directive. This order shut down all non-essential businesses in the interest of public safety. Employees who could not transfer their work responsibilities to a home environment suddenly found themselves in the unemployment line.
Against this backdrop, the parents of Shirley Avenue Elementary School found out at the last minute that an LAUSD team was set to visit their closed campus on the morning of April 14. What was the "essential" nature of their work? To ascertain the exact tasks that the district would need to perform in order to accommodate the co-location of Citizens of the World Charter school on their campus. Apparently, this was important enough to risk the health of those on the team and the school staff who were on campus.
This site visit can only be considered "essential" if the timetables surrounding Prop-39 are considered to be inflexible, even in times of a global pandemic. However, according to the district, the "Scoping and Issuance of Final Offers of Space" is the last in the Schedule of Steps in the yearly implementation of the proposition. Prior to this, they should have held community meetings after the school site notification. This is an action that has yet to be performed by the district.
If the district were to listen to the voices from the community, they would find that they are overwhelmingly opposed to the plan. In fact, the district staff was met by a drive-by protest by parents who demand to be heard. They know that eventually, this global crisis will pass and their already traumatized children deserve to return to a school community that is intact and not divided by an invading charter school.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: In order to get the views of the four remaining school board candidates on the issues surrounding Prop-39, Scott Schmerelson,Marilyn Koziatek, Patricia Castellanos, and Tanya Ortiz Franklin were all offered the opportunity to provide a comment for this story. None of them replied.
Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, and a member of theLAUSD's CAC, and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, he was endorsed by the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a "strong supporter of public schools." His past blogs can be found at www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.