Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 1 Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Reddit Tell A Friend Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites
Exclusive to OpEdNews:
OpEdNews Op Eds

Ignoring a Problem Does Not Make It Go Away

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Carl Petersen       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

Related Topic(s): , Add Tags
Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com

Author 503224
Become a Fan
  (5 fans)
- Advertisement -

"As required under California Government Code section 6253, the District will make a determination within 10 days as to whether or not a request is seeking records that are publicly disclosable and, if so, to provide the estimated date that the records will be made available."

-LAUSD, August 4, 2015


While running for a seat on the School Board I had the opportunity to give voice to the victims of bullying by the LAUSD. I listened to the stories of those in Teacher's Jail and repeatedly heard about the abuses of power within the District. Every time I wrote an article a voice in the back of my head reminded me that this could be the time that a teacher was actually at fault, but that never happened. In retrospect, that makes sense; clear cut cases of wrongdoing do not require an extended stay of paid leave while the district conducts an "investigation."


One of the promises that I made to my supporters after the election was that I would continue fightingfor change within the district. I have followed through with continued coverage of Teacher's Jail, including the District's ever expanding investigation against Rafe Esquith. As a result of one of these articles, I was contacted by David Binkle, who headed the LAUSD's Food Services division. Mr. Binkle not only broke the news to me that he was retiring, he spent a couple of hours detailing how he had been micromanaged from the top. If what Binkle was telling me was true, it was clear that he had been set up as a scapegoat and the real fraud had occurred at the upper echelons of the district.

- Advertisement -

Verifying Binkle's most basic claim should have been easy. The District's leaked report accused him of illegally using marketing funds to travel to conferences, but Binkle told me, as he had stated previously in the press, that these trips and their funding source had been approved by his superior. Knowing exactly what I was looking for, I submitted a simple public-records request on August 3, 2015:


Pursuant to my rights under the California Public Records Act (Government Code Section 6250 et seq.), I ask to obtain a copy of the following, which I understand to be held by your agency:


  1. Any e-mail, memo, interoffice correspondence or letter addressed to Enrique Boull't that includes the phrase "Request for Travel."

    - Advertisement -
  2. Any e-mail, memo, interoffice correspondence or letter addressed to or sent by either Enrique Boull't or Michelle King that includes the phrase "LAUSD I'M IN."


The period of time covered by this request is the month of January 2013.



(Image by Carl Petersen)   Details   DMCA
Unfortunately, my first attempt to deliver this request was thwarted by District's blocking of my IP address which prevented me from sending e-mails to their server. After using a different computer and email address, I received confirmation of my request from the General Counsel's office. The clock was ticking.



(Image by Carl Petersen)   Details   DMCA
Given the fact that the information I was requesting was relevant to a supposedly ongoing investigation, it should have been recently accessed and, therefore, not stuck in some dust-covered box in a remote warehouse. It should also be noted that I was only looking for correspondence from two employees during a one-month period, so the request was not overly broad. Still, as the deadline approached, the district sent me letter stating that due to "unusual circumstances" they needed additional time to process my request. They expected to provide "a further response on or before August 28, 2015."

- Advertisement -

I did not receive that response and on August 31, I asked for an update. On September 3, I was sent an email stating that "so far, only two emails have been found for the month of January 2013 related to the phrases 'Request for Travel' and 'LAUSD I'M IN'" and they were still "working on this matter in an attempt to find additional emails, if any." This was curious, because I had asked for not only emails, but also memos, interoffice correspondence or letters. Also, if they were only searching e-mails, why was this information not instantly available through an electronic search? In any case, I was told that they would provide me "with an update and final response on Tuesday, September 8." I am still waiting for that response.


The questions left unanswered by the District's stonewalling are not insignificant. Most importantly, Binkle deserves a chance to publicly prove his innocence after his character was publicly assassinated by the District. Also, the taxpayers and stakeholders deserve to know why a District that constantly claims poverty was paying Binkle his $152,000-a-year salary to sit home on paid leave if he was actually innocent of the charges leveled against him. Additionally, it has been widely reported that Binkle brought many positive changesto the food-services program. If this is the case, have the students been unnecessarily harmed by his forced retirement?


This case also plays a role in the ongoing search for a new Superintendent. Steve Zimmer has called Michelle King "a 'top candidate' to replace Ramon Cortines," but she sat above David Binkle on the chain of command. If the Inspector General is correct in his assertion that "the program [was] at a minimum being mismanaged and at worst being consistently abused," then the public deserves to know how this was allowed to happen by senior district staff, including King. This is especially crucial since Binkle has stated that his actions were approved. A simple release of documents will prove if this is true.

____________________________________________

I am a former candidate for the District 3 seat on the LAUSD School Board, founder of Change The LAUSD and member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council. Opinions are my own.

 

- Advertisement -

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com

Carl Petersen is a father of five, including two daughters who are on the autism spectrum. His involvement in education issues began when the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) refused to provide services that his daughters' teachers (more...)
 

Carl Petersen Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter Page       Linked In Page       Instagram Page

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines
Related Topic(s): , Add Tags
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Make it a Headline When Trump Actually Tells the Truth

California Senate Candidate Alison Hartson on Education

Three Headlines That Got Buried Last Week

If Money Continues to Talk, We're Screwed

Finding Hope in Florida

Bright Shiny Objects: Trump's Real Art is Diverting Attention