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Somebody Is Not Telling the Truth

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tps://spectrumnews1.com/ca/la-west/education/2021/11/17/lausd-board-members-look-to-expand-covid-vaccine-mandate-to-charters?fbclid=IwAR1IGFPI7FwUC1KI-xm_G9L93rAmhcRAxpOBHKkPLep6lKEvTtErAtvAeGA" rel="noopener ugc nofollow" target="_blank">The pandemic is over. It is over." - Anti-Vax Parent

When Granada Hills Charter High School tried to follow in Palisades Charter High School's footsteps and install its own LAUSD Board Member, they exposed a right-wing element operating within their school. Beyond the desire to privatize public education, failed school board candidate Marilyn Koziatek, an administrator at the charter, opposes a woman's right to abortion and marriage equality. She was also financially supported by an environmental predator whose plans to sell groundwater would have destroyed the ecosystem of the Mojave Desert.

The number of right-wingers within the Granada staff was decreased in October by seven when six teachers and a counselor were "fired from their jobs after refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19." By forcing the employees to choose between succumbing to anti-vax hysteria and their jobs, Granada went beyond what is required by the state of California, which requires unvaccinated school employees to get tested on a weekly basis. The charter school could have taken credit for protecting staff, students, and families in their community. Instead, they blamed the LAUSD for giving them no choice:

"As a charter school authorized by and subject to the oversight of the Los Angeles Unified School District... and which is located on LAUSD facilities, GHC must also comply with LAUSD's vaccine mandate that all charter school employees be fully vaccinated... No testing alternative is available under LAUSD's vaccine mandate. Failure to comply with authorizer requirements, such as the vaccine mandate, can result in charter revocation."

This information contradicts comments made by LAUSD Board Member Nick Melvoin at a meeting of the Pacific Palisades Community Council. At this meeting, Melvoin said that the student vaccine mandate that had just passed did "not apply to independent charter schools" that were "free to do what [they want] around student vaccinations." He also stated that the "vaccination mandate both for employees... and this student vaccination mandate do not apply to Pali" and the other authorized independent charter schools.

What Melvoin did not explain is why charter schools authorized by the LAUSD should not be required to follow the same rules as district schools. If the mandates were implemented to protect children, then all schools within the district's jurisdiction should have been expected to comply. By exempting the publicly funded private schools that put them in office, Melvoin and Board President Kelly Gonez provided another way to funnel students away from LAUSD-operated schools.

The exemptions to the vaccine mandates parallel the way that the charter school-supported majority on the board catered to the Defund the Police movement. By instituting these rules without working with the board members who had actual experience running schools, they gave UTLA the results they wanted in a way that not only endangered public school students but also gave charter schools a magnet for attracting the students whose parents were frightened by the LAUSD's lack of planning around how to remove the police from campuses. After all, armed private security guards look like a benefit when the impression has been made that nobody is protecting students in the neighborhood public school.

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Melvoin and Gonez ran on a platform of saying that they would put "kids first," but their actions have repeatedly shown that kids are the furthest thing from their minds when they set policies for the district. If these two board members really cared about kids, they would make sure that they and their families were protected from a pandemic that has taken way too many lives, especially in BIPOC communities. They would also have made sure that removing police from our campuses was done in a way that kept our campuses safe. I hope that these were innocent oversights that come from not having children who are enrolled in the district and, therefore, not understanding the concerns of parents. The alternative is that they were willing to put children's lives at risk to satisfy the charter school industry that funds their campaigns.

Carl Petersen is a parent advocate for students with special education needs and public education. He is an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and serves as the Education Chair. As a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action. Dr. Diane Ravitch has called him "a valiant fighter for public schools in Los Angeles." For links to his blogs, please visit www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.

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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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