"We need more parent and community involvement with [the] LAUSD. It is an essential ingredient in creating an enriching learning environment for our students."
- Patricia Castellanos
Currently, not one of the LAUSD School Board members has a child enrolled in a district school. As the parent of a first-grader who attends an LAUSD school, Patricia Castellanos would change that omission and "ensure that parents are represented in the top decision-making that impacts our children's lives." She says that her status as a district parent sets her apart from the other candidates since it gives her the ability to "understand many of the hopes and concerns shared by parents across the District."
Castellanos is a long-time community leader who was included on billmoyers.com's 2013 list of Activists to Watch. She was formerly a deputy director at the LA Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) and was a co-founder of Reclaim Our Schools L.A. (ROSLA). These were two of the groups that were instrumental in promoting the Give Kids a Chance platform that outlined the student-centered demands of UTLA leading into last year's strike. She currently serves as L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl's Workforce Deputy.
Castellanos seems to understand the frustration that parents of children with special education needs have with the LAUSD when she states that "the District needs to work more collaboratively with families with children with special education needs to ensure that students are getting proper services, timely assessments and IEPs when appropriate. Trust and access to information are essential to promoting an environment where District staff and families can work together in the best interest of our Children." She also supports "the continued local and state trend of increasing the transparency and accountability of charter schools to ensure their practices serve all students."
Noting that the "LAUSD should not send mixed messages to parents by claiming [an] interest in their perspectives, but making it nearly impossible to participate, let alone attend school board meetings," Castellanos recognizes that "proposals to make our board meetings more accessible to parents are...important." She also pledges to "support exploring practices that would increase parent and community representation on charter school boards."
Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, an appointed alternate to the LAUSD'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.