- Marilyn Koziatek
Even before starting its expansion into TK through 8th grade, Granada Hills Charter High School had more students than 86% of all school districts nationwide. However, unlike most school districts, the community that finances the school does not get to vote for its governing board. Instead of using the democratic process to appoint parent representatives to this board, they are hand-picked by the administration. The result is a private school that spends money without any public accountability.
As an employee of Granada, LAUSD School Board District 3 candidate Marilyn Koziatek has been able to take advantage of the charter schools' lax fiscal policies for her own personal benefit. On June 21, 2019, she signed a one-year contract to serve as the charter school's Director of Development and Communications. This was a $5,000 increase from the contract she signed the year before. Less than three months later, Koziatek decided to run for the school board. Granada found that because of this "her work for the School in outreach, engagement, and communication may be compromised and questioned, and, therefore, [needed] to be changed."
Instead of requiring Koziatek to take a leave of absence during her candidacy, Granada simply had her sign a "Fixed-Term Employment Agreement Addendum" that stated that she would "work in the position of Special Projects and Events Manager." Despite being downgraded from a Director to a Manager, her pay was not changed by the addendum. Furthermore, her duties were described as follows: "manage media relations, public affairs consultant and press conferences. Identify story-telling opportunities, streamline communications strategies and direct implementation." Given that she is running based on the performance of Granada, it is unclear how the conflict of interest was resolved.
The limited amount of documents that Granada has agreed to release related to Koziatek's employment provided some additional insight into questionable spending habits. For example, on January 16, 2019, Koziatek completed a "Classified Professional Development Request Form" for a trip to Sacramento. While such a trip would typically involve ways to enhance her abilities as the Director of Communication, this trip was described as "meetings with legislators to discuss important issues impacting charter schools and public education." In other words: lobbying. Furthermore, the Valley Industry Commerce Association (VICA) was paid a $50 "registration fee" for "arranging" these meetings. Coincidentally, Koziatek serves as the chair for VICA's Education Committee, setting the stage for another potential conflict of interest.
While in Sacramento, Koziatek did not skimp on her accommodations, paying $402.40 for a one-night stay at the Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel. The cost was reimbursed by Granada. Did you feel the money coming out of your pocket?
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.