LAUSD to Expand Number of Magnet School Seats

May 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles Unified School District voted Tuesday to expand the number of seats in its popular magnet program by 5,000 in 2017-18.

The school board also unanimously approved a plan to open a new magnet campus in Maywood, for grades 6-12, the District announced this week. The new magnet school will be located at South Region High School No. 8, scheduled to open in fall 2017 as a Center for Enriched Studies Magnet School.

The new campus is expected to alleviate overcrowding at Bell Senior High School, allowing it to transition from a year-round to two-semester calendar, and create more seats for the Bell Zone of Choice.
South Region High will be the third Center for Enriched Studies in the District. The two others are in West Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.

‘The Southeast community has long advocated for more high-quality instructional programs in their neighborhoods,” said Board Member Dr. Ref Rodriguez. “I am thrilled that the LAUSD Board and District has listened, and has taken another step forward in closing the opportunity gap by creating a Center for Enriched Studies to be located in the City of Maywood. This new magnet school highlights the Board’s commitment to increasing the number of magnet programs throughout the District, and adds to the portfolio of magnet programs available to middle school and high school students in the Southeast Cities.”

There are currently approximately 67,000 students enrolled in the school district’s 198 magnet programs, with an additional 44,000 students on waiting lists. The campuses offer themed programs in subjects ranging from architecture and filmmaking to science and technology.

“We embrace multiple strategies for student success on our path to 100 percent graduation,” said Board Member Mónica García. “We continue to expand the portfolio of options for our students, families and school communities.”

Individual schools apply to create or expand a themed magnet, and must meet specific criteria designed to ensure the program will be successful and will meet the needs of its community. Of the 12 magnets set to open in Fall 2017, nine will focus on STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

Conferencia de Recursos e Información para el Aprendizaje a Temprana Edad

April 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Varias agencias y el distrito escolar unificado de Los Ángeles participarán este sábado en la conferencia “De la Cuna a la Preparación para la Universidad” en el Centro de Aprendizaje Roybal en 1200 West Colton St. 9006 de 8-3pm.

El objetivo es para informar a familias con niños de 0-5 años de edad, a crear conciencia sobre la importancia del desarrollo de la infancia en relación a la preparación escolar y universitaria. Habrá una feria de recursos y servicios para los padres, estudiantes y la comunidad así como almuerzo gratis y regalos.

State Court Panel Upholds Teacher Tenure

April 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

In a major victory for teachers’ unions, a state appeals court panel today overturned a Los Angeles judge’s ruling that struck down California’s laws granting tenure to educators.

The panel ruled that while there appear to be “drawbacks” to the state’s statutes governing tenure and the firing of teachers, the plaintiffs in the case failed to prove the laws are unconstitutional.

The ruling by a three-judge panel of 2nd District Court of Appeal struck down a decision made in June 2014 by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu, who found students and teachers alike were “disadvantaged” by the statutes.

The judge noted that teachers have a right to due process when they are being targeted for dismissal, but the current system is “so complex, time consuming and expensive as to make an effective, efficient yet fair dismissal of a grossly ineffective teacher illusory.”

The lawsuit, known as Vergara v. California, was filed in May 2012 by a privately funded advocacy group called Students Matter on behalf of nine young plaintiffs, alleging the laws violate students’ constitutional rights to an equal education.

The suit named the state and two teacher unions that later intervened as defendants, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers. The unions argued that the laws governing tenure ensure that quality teachers are in classrooms.

In a hearing before the appeals court panel in February, plaintiffs attorney Ted Boutrous argued that teacher job protections result in a “dance of the lemons,” in which “grossly ineffective teachers” are simply transferred from school to school.

“It’s impossible to dismiss these teachers,” the attorney said, adding that poor teachers invariably end up in low-income and minority outposts.

“The students’ fundamental right to a quality education is being violated,” Boutrous said, urging the panel to affirm Treu’s ruling.

But Deputy Attorney General Nimrod Elias argued that there is no evidence that students at some poor and minority schools are being harmed by the protections.

“These laws help reduce teacher attrition,” he said. “There are benefits.”

Elias also argued that school districts statewide attract educators who might otherwise be dissuaded by what they may consider low pay and difficult working conditions. In California, administrators must in effect decide whether to grant teachers tenure permanent employment after just 18 months.

In its 36-page ruling, the appeals court panel noted that the case pointed out “deplorable staffing decisions being made by some local administrators that have a deleterious impact on poor and minority students in California’s public schools.”

“The evidence did not show that the challenged statutes inevitable cause this impact,” the court ruled. “Plaintiffs elected not to target local administrative decisions and instead opted to challenge the statutes themselves. This was a heavy burden and one plaintiffs did not carry. The trial court’s judgment declaring the statutes unconstitutional, therefore, cannot be

Officials with Students Matter said they plan to appeal the ruling.

LAUSD Bus Catches Fire

April 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A Los Angeles Unified School District bus caught fire Monday on a freeway transition road in Boyle Heights, but all children got off safely and no one was hurt.

The fire, which was quickly extinguished, was reported shortly before 10 a.m. on the transition from the northbound Santa Ana (5) Freeway to the eastbound San Bernardino (10) Freeway, the Los Angeles Fire Department reported.

East L.A. Charter Is LAUSD’s Only 2015 Blue Ribbon School

February 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It was a banner day for students, families and teachers at an East Los Angeles area charter school Tuesday.
They were celebrating KIPP Raíces Academy being named a 2015 National Blue Ribbon School award by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE).

Located in a predominately low-income Latino neighborhood, KIPP Raíces Academy is one of only 33 schools in California, and the only Los Angeles Unified School District school to receive the Blue Ribbon designation.

The East Los Angeles elementary school was chosen as an “Exemplary High Performing School” based on its achievement on state assessments. In 2015, KIPP Raíces students exceeded the averages for both the district and the state on the state assessment exam, with 82 percent of the school’s students meeting or exceeding the standards in math and 78 percent meeting or exceeding the standards in English Language Arts.

(L to R): Marcia Aaron, executive director of KIPP LA Schools, Amber Young Medina, managing director of schools for KIPP LA Schools, Chelsea Zegarski, principal of KIPP Raices Academy, Monica Garcia, LAUSD board bember, Gloria Molina, former LA County Supervisor, and Ref Rodriguez, LAUSD board member. (Courtesy of KIPP)

(L to R): Marcia Aaron, executive director of KIPP LA Schools, Amber Young Medina, managing director of schools for KIPP LA Schools, Chelsea Zegarski, principal of KIPP Raices Academy, Monica Garcia, LAUSD board bember, Gloria Molina, former LA County Supervisor, and Ref Rodriguez, LAUSD board member. (Courtesy of KIPP)

“KIPP Raíces Academy has shown what is possible for public education in East LA,” said L.A. Unified Board Member Mónica García. “It is clear that this community of dedicated educators and students has raised the bar, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be here today to celebrate this very bright spot in our community.”

Founded in 2008, the school currently enrolls 545 students in grades K-4 — 85 percent of who are from low-income families and 96 percent of who are Latino.

“This award is a testament to what can happen in East LA when a public school is seen as a joyful place, where learning is celebrated and possibilities are endless,” said current KIPP Raíces Academy school leader Chelsea Zegarski. “I am so proud of our students, families, and staff for the work that they do every day to make this vision a reality.”

KIPP Raíces is a part of KIPP LA, a network of six middle schools and seven elementary schools serving over 6,000 students and alumni throughout South and East Los Angeles.

LAUSD Cierra Sus Puertas a Agentes de Inmigración

February 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

En reacción a las redadas del Gobierno federal anunciadas a principios del año contra familias centroamericanas, las escuelas públicas de Los Ángeles, donde cerca del 50% del alumnado es hispano, no permitirán la entrada de autoridades de Inmigración a sus instalaciones.
La decisión tomada este martes en la junta de gobierno del Distrito Escolar Unificado de Los Ángeles (LAUSD) declaró todas las escuelas, desde kínder hasta último año de secundaria, como “zonas seguras y centro de recursos para estudiantes y familias amenazadas por el cumplimiento de las leyes de inmigración”.

De acuerdo con la proposición presentada por el presidente de la junta, Steve Zimmer, cualquier solicitud del Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas (ICE) para ingresar a un escuela del LAUSD deberá ser remitida para decisión al Superintendente y al abogado general del distrito escolar.

La resolución aprobada por los supervisores destaca la necesidad de que el Congreso actúe para reformar la ley de inmigración y declara que “cualquier sede de una escuela del Distrito Escolar Unificado de Los Ángeles es un lugar seguro para todos sus estudiantes y sus familias”.

Igualmente ordena que el personal del distrito trate “a todos los estudiantes de una forma equitativa en la recepción de todos los servicios escolares incluyendo, pero no limitándose a, el programa de almuerzo gratis o el precio reducido, el transporte y la instrucción educativa”.
La portavoz del ICE para la Región Oeste Virginia Kice recordó en un comunicado que consideran las escuelas y las iglesias como “lugares sensibles”, por lo que no realizan detenciones en esos sitios.

La resolución del LAUSD igualmente anima al superintendente a que aumente y extienda alianzas con organizaciones comunitarias y de servicios legales que “ofrezcan recursos para las familias que enfrenta la deportación”.

De esta forma, buscan que se establezca una “red de respuesta” para ayudar a los niños que tengan algún familiar que haya sido detenido por Inmigración.

LAUSD Elige a la Primera Mujer Afroamericana para Liderar el Distrito

January 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

La superintendente adjunta del Distrito Escolar Unificado de Los Ángeles Michelle King fue nombrada el lunes como la nueva superintendente del distrito.

“Es un momento histórico”, dijo el presidente de la junta del LAUSD Steven Zimmer. “Una hija de nuestra ciudad, estudiante y egresada de LAUSD, una maestra de nuestras escuelas, directora de nuestro sistema, una líder de nuestra comunidad ahora toma el timón con nosotros para juntos llevar este distrito, nuestras escuelas y nuestra comunidad en los avances de la educación pública para los estudiantes que nos necesitan

King, de 54 años, ha estado con el distrito durante 31 años como maestra y administradora. Ella es la primera mujer en dirigir el distrito en más de 80 años y la primera mujer afroamericana en la historia que dirige el segundo distrito más grande del país.

“Me siento honrada y orgullosa de ser seleccionada como superintendente del Distrito Escolar Unificado de Los Ángeles”, dijo King. “Una vez más quiero dar las gracias a la Junta de Educación por su confianza y apoyo por permitirme guiar a los estudiantes, empleados y familias de este increíble distrito.

Dijo que como la primera mujer afroamericana en dirigir el distrito, ella quiere “inspirar a los estudiantes de todas las razas y orígenes para perseguir sus sueños mediante la demostración de lo que es posible en el sistema de educación de L.A.”

King dijo que planea ampliar los esfuerzos para involucrar a los padres, los sindicatos del LAUSD y otros interesados en tomar un esfuerzo activo en el movimiento del distrito hacia adelante, y “crear nuevas vías para todos los estudiantes y darles las herramientas que necesitan para tener éxito”.

Se espera que la junta directiva finalice su contrato en su reunión del martes. La selección de King fue unánime.

De acuerdo con el distrito, el King asistió a las escuelas primarias Century Park y Windsor Hills y a la escuela intermedia Palms. Se graduó de la preparatoria  Palisades y asistió a UCLA.

Ella comenzó su carrera de docente en la escuela intermedia Porter en Granada Hills, enseñando matemáticas y ciencias, antes de convertirse en coordinadora de matemáticas, ciencias e industria aeroespacial en la escuela intermedia Wright en Westchester. Más tarde se desempeñó como subdirectora y directora de la preparatoria Hamilton en Cheviot Hills.

Se desempeñó como jefe de gabinete de Cortines durante su administración anterior, y luego como jefa adjunta bajo el Superintendente John Deasy y otra vez bajo Cortines tras la salida de Deasy.

LAUSD’s New School Chief Needs Student-Focused Team

January 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The unanimous vote by the Los Angeles Unified School Board to appoint Michelle King as Superintendent ends a search that at times seemed to be fruitless.

We don’t need to go into the whys; we’ll just say that the candidate who called the country’s second largest school district a mess got it right.

Ms. King, an LAUSD insider should have no problem identifying the most challenging problems now facing the District, from low scores to the power struggle between charter school advocates and traditional school supporters and the teachers’ union.

At the core, schools are supposed to educate, to teach students to do mathematics, read and write – the three fundamental building blocks of a good education. But it’s a mission LAUSD has had great difficulty achieving, particularly among low-income and ethnic students.

There are those who feel that appointing a longtime insider like King will only serve to perpetuate the status quo. Others see the hiring as an opportunity to avoid the learning curve and get right to work.

We hope that as an educator trained in mathematics and sciences, King will do the work needed to focus on strengthening student attainment in those fields as well as English.

As a product of LAUSD schools and having worked for years in the district in various capacities, from teacher to principal to a top level administrator, King has an expansive understanding of what’s worked, what’s failed, and the political gaming that too often takes center stage.

That understanding, we hope, will serve as a bellwether of what needs to be done and assist her in rebuilding the district.

Reports are that she has managed to not become embroiled in any of the district’s scandals.

The list of what educators, including school reformers want her to do immediately is sure to be endless, but in our view, what the new superintendent needs to do first is to build her administration, a team that should be diverse, but as she has said, focused on students and their families.

LA Unified Selects First Black Woman to Lead District

January 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles Unified School District Deputy Superintendent Michelle King was named today the district’s next superintendent.

“What a historic moment this is,” LAUSD board President Steven Zimmer said. “A daughter of our city, a student and graduate of LAUSD, a teacher from our schools, a principal from our system, a leader of our community will now take the helm with us together to lead this district, our schools and our community for breakthroughs in public education for the students that need us
the most.”

King, 54, has been with the district for 31 years as a teacher and administrator. She is the first woman to lead the district in more than 80 years and the first black woman to ever lead the nation’s second-largest district.

“I am honored and proud to be selected as the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District,” King said. “I again want to thank the Board of Education for their confidence and support in allowing me to lead the students, employees and families of this incredible district.”
She said as the first black woman to lead the district, she wants to “inspire students of all races and backgrounds to pursue their dreams by demonstrating what is possible in L.A. Unified.”
King said she plans to expand efforts to engage parents, LAUSD unions and other stakeholders to take an active effort in moving the district forward, and “create new pathways for all students and give them the tools they need to succeed.”

The board is expected to finalize her contract at its meeting Tuesday. The selection of King was unanimous.
Superintendent Ramon Cortines retired from day-to-day operations of the district in December, and officially stepped aside Jan. 2. The board has been conducting a search for a replacement since August, while King has been serving as the interim leader of the district since Cortines stepped aside.

According to the district, King attended Century Park and Windsor Hills elementary schools and Palms Junior High School. She graduated from Palisades High School and attended UCLA.

She began her teaching career at Porter Middle School in Granada Hills, teaching math and science, before becoming the math, science and aerospace coordinator at Wright Middle School in Westchester. She later served as assistant principal and principal at Hamilton High School in Cheviot Hills.

She served as Cortines’ chief of staff during his previous administration, then as a deputy under Superintendent John Deasy and again under Cortines following Deasy’s departure.

School Closure: Better Safe Than Sorry?

December 17, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles Unified School District’s decision to close all its schools Tuesday in response to a terrorist threat directed at unspecified but multiple campuses was unprecedented, it was also the right thing to do.

It’s easy to criticize when you don’t have to make the decision, or with the benefit of new information, but in our view, Superintendent Ray Cortines’ instinct to protect students, faculty and school employees first than investigate deeper was right on.

The fact that New York officials facing a similar threat decided to keep their schools open should in no way discredit the action taken by LA Unified. Their decision was based on what they knew and when they knew it, and unlike Cortines, with the knowledge that the same threat had been made to another school district: LA Unified.

Let’s face it, recent terrorist events have us all at least a little on edge. Grandiose statements by politicians that we should not be ruled by fear may sound good, but the words are of little comfort to parents concerned about their child’s safety.

We can only imagine how angry parents would be to find out there was a threat but the district did nothing.

The email may have turned out to be a hoax, but that should not mean that the experience was a waste of time and money. It should be looked at as an unexpected, but valuable learning opportunity for the world we live in now.

The information garnered from the district’s response to the threat should now be looked at with a critical lens to identify where district systems and employees performed well and where they failed. Did the robocalls do their job? Did everyone get the call or information? If not, why not?

What if it there had been explosives in the school, would the actions taken have resulted in saving lives?

And lest we forget, the threat of terrorism is not the only danger we live with today. There are threats of nature, like earthquakes and powerful El Nino storms that could cause wide-scale destruction, forcing school closures. Are the emergency notification systems the district has in place sufficient, or do they need to be honed and improved?

These are all questions that should be answered and shared with the public.

So, while we believe LA Unified did the right thing when it closed schools Tuesday, the true test of their success will be what they do with that they have learned.

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