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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/8/18

The Largest Charter School in the Country Will Get Even Larger

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"A perfect example of what is wrong with the California law regarding charter authorizing."

- Scott Schmerelson

LAUSD Board members Scott Schmerelson and Nick Melvoin
LAUSD Board members Scott Schmerelson and Nick Melvoin
(Image by Carl J Petersen)
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The average school in the United States has 507 students. Through the 2018-2019 school year, Granada Hills Charter High School is authorized for an enrollment capacity of 5,500 students. This is more than the total number of students in 86% of all school districts nationwide. Included in the charter-renewal petition submitted to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) this summer, the school sought to grow even larger by adding TK through 8th grades and 1,425 more students. Before the Board voted on this proposal, I made my public comment detailing the problems that already exist at the school along with new issues that were raised by the proposed expansion:

LAUSD Board members Scott Schmerelson and Nick Melvoin
(Image by Carl J Petersen)
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"Resolved further, That a charter school be required to notify all parents, guardians, and teachers in writing within 72 hours when the District issues a Notice of Violations, a Notice of Intent to Revoke and/or for Notice of Non-renewal; and that the notification includes the District's rationale for the action, if provided by the District. The school shall also be required to simultaneously provide proof of the notification to the Charter Schools Division.

"On March 3, 2017, the District issued a
Notice of Violation to Granada but the school did not inform parents about this violation. This shows a refusal of the school to follow the rules.

"Even worse, the Charter School Division (CSD) did not follow through. They state that a warning is only '
required when the Notice of Violation is for charter revocation.' I just read you the resolution that you passed. Is that an accurate description of the resolution? Has the use of 'alternative facts' now come to the LAUSD?

"This notice detailed conditions that endangered "
the Health and Safety of Students, Staff and Other Individuals." If that is the case, then why wasn't a revocation threatened if these conditions were not fixed? This Notice of Violation is still open. How can the charter be renewed when those issues have not been resolved?

"Board Composition:

"The Governing Board that approved this petition is
not constituted according to the previously approved charter. The charter does permit a change without a material revision if there was a change in the law. Ask the CSD 'what law was changed?' They won't be able to answer because the school relied on a change based on their own 'interpretation,' not an actual change in the law. If the law has actually changed, the CSD needs to explain why they have not cited Birmingham or Pacific Palisades for having employees on their Boards.

"Parents voted to convert from a public school to a charter school based on the promise that they would be able to elect representatives to the Board. Like a banana republic, the school allowed that one vote and then canceled all future elections. Parent representatives on the Governing Board are no longer elected; they are appointed.


"The CSD states that the school has over $12 million in cash and cash equivalents. They then admit that a little over $6 million are in accounts that are insured, leaving the rest unprotected. However, only ten accounts are listed. If these accounts were in separate banks this would only provide a maximum of $2.5 million of protection. Since some accounts are held in the same bank, only $1,250,000 (of $12 million) is actually protected.

"I would also like to know why they needed to issue over $5 million in bonds last year if they have claimed to have $12 million in cash. The bond ratings for this issuance was a less than stellar
BBB-. What do the bond markets know that the CSD is ignoring?

"Special Education:

"The CSD stated yesterday that 9% of Granada's students required Special Education services. The Board informative states that the actual number is 8.36%. The SARC report from last year states there is 7%. Is this more Trump math? What is the actual number?

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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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