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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/29/17

Is the LAUSD Charter School Division Providing Any Oversight?

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"We look at their websites, not only at that time but in their oversight."

Our oversight is "proactive and responsive."

- Jose Cole-Gutie'rrez, LAUSD Charter School Division

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is "the largest district charter school authorizer in the nation, with about 250 independent and affiliated charter schools serving over 130,000 students." The Charter School Division is responsible for ensuring that these schools comply with the law and their charters. Unfortunately, this oversight is not as thorough as it needs to be. On Tuesday, June 20, 2017, I brought this issue to the attention of the LAUSD School Board with the following public comment:

Good Morning. My name is Carl Petersen and I am here to follow up on the public comment that I made last week regarding Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS). Specifically, I'd like to respond to Jose' Cole-Gutie'rrez ' statement that the Charter School Division is "proactive and responsive" in their oversight.

Cole-Gutie'rrez stated that last week was the first he had heard of the charges that I was bringing against GHCHS. However, in the packet that I am providing to you, you will see a stack of emails (email 1, email 2, email 3, email 4) both to and from the Charter School Division about this issue. His email address is copied on all of them. If he was unaware it is because he is not paying attention.

Also included in that packet are screen captures of GHCHS' website. Cole-Cole-Gutie'rrez suggested that this must be a new thing, that Granada must have changed their website because the CSD would have caught it in oversight. I used the Wayback Machine on the Internet and brought up these forms roughly every six months going back to March of 2015. There are different formats for their enrollment form, but each one of those forms contains the offending language asking for the IEP (3/10/15, 12/16/15, 3/28/16, 10/30/16, 12/22/16).

Dr. McKenna asked during his questioning last week about other schools and if the Charter School Division is looking at other schools. I have also included a copy of a page from El Camino Charter High School's website. They also have that language on their enrollment information online. The Alliance Collins Family College Ready High School also has that language on their enrollment information form.

While I was looking that up I found something else that was interesting. Alliance is trying to shame parents into doing "volunteer" hours so they post how much volunteering the parents have done, listed by student name on the website. This public release of student information violates their privacy.

I would also like to state that it is not enough to simply remove this language. As I said, these violations have gone on for years and we need to find a way to make up for the harm that has already been done. The data that I presented last week shows the significant difference between the special education populations at Granada Hills and Northridge Academy. We need to fix that.

I'd also like to remind the Board that each of the charters and the charter law allow the District to put a representative on all of the charters' governing boards. This is particularly important in the case of Granada Charter High School because they do not have an elected parent representative. They simply appoint the representative that they want. Last year I applied to be on that Board and without even interviewing me as the process specifies, they simply said: "no, we're not interested."

Unfortunately, these are clearly not the only instances of improper behavior by the charter industry within the LAUSD. After hearing my comments, a parent brought to my attention the following section from the Alliance College-Ready Public (SIC) Schools 2015-2016 Parent-Student Handbook:

Prior to a student enrolling at an Alliance school, each parent/guardian shall submit the following required documentation:

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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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