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.

Reanudan Clases en Escuelas de LAUSD Tras Amenaza de Seguridad

December 17, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Más de 900 escuelas públicas de Los Ángeles reabrieron sus puertas el miércoles tras haber permanecido cerradas el martes debido a una amenaza que finalmente el FBI no consideró “credible”, informaron las autoridades en una rueda de prensa.

Las escuelas, gestionadas por el Distrito Escolar Unificado de Los Ángeles (LAUSD), el mayor sistema de escuelas públicas de California con más de 640.000 estudiantes, cerró el martes después de recibir un correo electrónico con una amenaza que incluía el uso de artefactos explosivos y armas de fuego y que las autoridades inicialmente consideraron como “creíble”.

El cierre de más de 900 escuelas de LAUSD se debió a una amenaza electrónica. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

El cierre de más de 900 escuelas de LAUSD se debió a una amenaza electrónica. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

El presidente de la junta escolar, Steve Zimmer, aseguró en la tarde que, tras inspeccionar 1.531 centros educativos en Los Ángeles, las autoridades pudieron concluir que las “escuelas son seguras” y por ello el miércoles los estudiantes regresaron a clases.

Zimmer destacó el esfuerzo hecho por la comunidad educativa durante la jornada y la colaboración entre las diferentes fuerzas de seguridad.

Asimismo, el alcalde de Los Ángeles, Eric Garcetti, manifestó también en la misma conferencia que el FBI había determinado tras su investigación que “esta amenaza no es creíble”, por lo que subrayó que la ciudad “está segura”.

En un comunicado, el superintendente Ramón Cortines reconoció que había sido “un día difícil” por el primer cierre del LAUSD “en décadas”.

Por la mañana había anunciado que la amenaza fue “extraña” y por “medios electrónicos”.

“No voy a correr ningún riesgo trayendo a los niños a un lugar o a cualquier parte de un edificio hasta que yo sepa que es seguro”, afirmó.

El Buró Federal de Investigaciones (FBI) estuvo prestando apoyo en la investigación de la amenaza, dijo la Policía de Los Ángeles.

“Tomé la decisión de cerrar las escuelas el martes y esto no fue una decisión hecha a la ligera. Creó interrupciones en la vida de nuestros estudiantes, nuestros empleados y sus familias (…). Tomé esta decisión colmada de precaución y en un esfuerzo para garantizar la protección y seguridad de nuestras escuelas”, añadió Cortines.

La decisión del cierre escolar se produjo después del atentado cometido el pasado día 2 en la cercana localidad de San Bernardino por dos supuestos simpatizantes del grupo yihadista Estado Islámico (EI), que dejó 14 muertos y más de 20 heridos.

LAUSD Schools Reopen Following Threat

December 17, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Crisis counselors were deployed at Los Angeles Unified School District schools Wednesday to foster calm a day after the LAUSD’s more than 900 campuses were kept shuttered in response to what turned out to be a bogus bomb threat.
The Los Angeles Police Department and County Sheriff’s stepped up patrols around LAUSD campuses to help allay any uneasiness among students and parents.
“As you know, L.A. Unified always puts student safety first,” LAUSD Chief Deputy Superintendent Michelle King said in a statement after the schools reopened. “I want to reassure students, parents, guardians, teachers and other employees that our schools are safe.”
In addition to the deployment of crisis counselors, “teachers have been provided lesson plans on how to help youngsters who may feel a little anxious or afraid,” King said Wednesday.
Superintendent of Schools Ramon Cortinez decided to close schools Tuesday and conduct an exhaustive security search of all campuses after a threat was received making reference to bombs, weapons and other destructive devices planted on campuses throughout the district. A nearly identical threat was received in New York City, where officials deemed it not credible and kept schools open.
New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, a former Los Angeles police chief, derided the L.A. closures as a “significant overreaction.” But California officialdom — both in the law enforcement and political communities — erected a solid front in support of the 83-year-old Cortines, who is due to retire next year, as he’s done once before.
Cortines said he acted out of an abundance of caution in the aftermath of terror strikes in Paris and San Bernardino, and both L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and Beck expressed strong support for the decision.
“I think it’s important to take this precaution based on what has happened recently and what has happened in the past,” he said, speaking less than two weeks after a U.S. citizen of Pakistani background and his Pakistani wife killed 14 people in San Bernardino in the deadliest terror strike on U.S soil since 9/11. They were later killed battling police.
“There will always be temptation after a day like today to increase the blame and the anger and the vitriol and the suspicion, but what we saw today across Los Angeles was a community turning toward each other, not against each other,” LAUSD Board of Education President Steve Zimmer said Tuesday.
“And that is the spirit with which we invite all of our families, all of our kids, all of our teachers back into the LAUSD public schools tomorrow in the hope that we will never, ever have to have another day like today, and that through our children, the hope of a much better tomorrow will carry the day tomorrow, next week, next year and to our future.”
Officials said the threat came via email, apparently from or routed through Frankfurt, Germany. Beck later said the email likely originated from somewhere much closer than Europe.
Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, said he saw the email and that the author “claims to be an extremist Muslim who has teamed up with local jihadists.” He said the email referenced bombs or possible nerve agents and suggested there were about 32 people involved in possibly planting the devices.
“The text of the email does not demonstrate that the author has studied Islam or has any particular understanding of Islam,” Sherman said.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank and the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said the threat appeared to be a hoax.

Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights was among the 900 schools closed Tuesday due to an electronic threat.  (EGP Photo by Jacqueline Garica)

Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights was among the 900 schools closed Tuesday due to an electronic threat. (EGP Photo by Jacqueline Garica)

“While we continue to gather information about the threat made against the Los Angeles and New York school departments, the preliminary assessment is that it was a hoax or something designed to disrupt school districts in large cities,” he said Tuesday.
Tuesday’s closures applied to all LAUSD campuses — more than 900 of them. The district is home to about 200 charter schools that were also affected, along with dozens of educational centers. Zimmer said more than 1,500 educational sites were searched Tuesday. The district, the nation’s second biggest, serves an estimated 700,000 students.
The closure could cost the district about millions in lost Average Daily Attendance funding from the state  – which is based in part on the number of students attending class on a daily basis. A drop in attendance leads to a drop in funding — and a full closure of the district for the day could be particularly costly. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said Tuesday LAUSD could lose about $29 million due to the closure, but added he will work to ensure that does not happen.
Torlakson said he instructed state DOE officials to work with LAUSD so it can qualify for relief from the loss of funding.
“We are nearly 100 percent certain that we can take the steps to restore those funds to the district,” he said.
According to the state, a district can receive special ADA credit for days lost due to an “emergency closure.”
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, said the Senate staff will also work with the LAUSD to ensure that schools receive funding for the day.
“Loss of funding should never be (a) factor in keeping students safe,” de Leon said via Twitter.

Roosevelt High Slated for $137M In Facility Funds

December 17, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles Unified School Board last week approved a $600 million investment in modernization projects at five District schools.

Theodore Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights will receive upwards of $137 million to construct new classrooms, gymnasium, auditorium and lunch shelter, according to the office of School Board Member Monica García.

The funds are aimed at large-scale modernization projects to support student learning, according to García.

“We love Boyle Heights and we stand with our students,” García told her fellow board members, urging them to approve the funding.

“We must repair and restore the campus that is the heartbeat of our community and honor the transformation that happens at Roosevelt High School.”

For years, Roosevelt was one of the district’s most overcrowded campuses — close to 5,000 students attending classes on year-round multi-track schedules at a campus built to accommodate 2,500 students.

The building of nearby Esteban Torres High School and the opening of several new charter schools has reduced overcrowding, but deteriorating and outdated infrastructure has continued to be an issue for the school, where over 90 percent of students quality for free or reduced-lunches, often considered in indicator of poverty.

At a recent town hall meeting at the campus, students called on LAUSD to include a Community Wellness Center in its upgrade and modernization plan.

Students said an on-campus health center would increase student attendance by making it possible for students to get the care they need without being forced to miss an entire day of classes for routine physicals, minor illnesses, injuries or dental appointments.

They also called on the district to open the facility to students’ families and the surrounding community.

Several students and community activists spoke during public comment, urging board members to approve funding for the upgrades.

“We hope to see Roosevelt and all schools in the Eastside equipped with support systems that meet our needs as students and community members,” said Brandy Vargas, a youth leader from Roosevelt.

“A comprehensive wellness center is needed,” Esthefanie Solano, Roosevelt alumni and organizer with InnerCity Struggle told the school board.

Increasing student performance will require “a comprehensive lens,” said Iliana Garcia, a community wellness organizer with Promesa Boyle Heights. “A wellness center will help increase student achievement.”

Also weighing in was Joan Sullivan, CEO for the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, which runs Roosevelt and several other LAUSD schools. “This decision to advance the modernization project at Roosevelt campus is a reinforcement of the board’s commitment to the long-term academic success of our students at Roosevelt High School and the Math, Science and Technology Magnet Academy,” said Sullivan. “We are grateful to Board Member García for her leadership in this effort and for her relentless pursuit in bringing a state-of-the-art facility to the Boyle Heights community.”

Local District East Superintendent Jose Huerta told board members he has personally experienced the positive impact modern facilities have on student achievement, calling Roosevelt’s modernization project “an investment in our students, our school, and our community.”

“The proposed enhancements will ensure that our students have an opportunity to engage in 21st century learning with the modern technology and facilities that they deserve,” Huerta said.

Next steps include planning, designing and construction with many meaningful forums for community input, according to García. The Roosevelt High School comprehensive modernization project is scheduled to be completed on or before the 100th year anniversary.

“We are grateful to Board Member García for her leadership in this effort and for her relentless pursuit in bringing a state-of-the-art facility to the Boyle Heights community,” Sullivan said.

Escuelas de LAUSD Reabren Sus Puertas

December 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Las escuelas de Los Ángeles abrieron sus puertas de nuevo hoy miércoles tras haber permanecido cerradas este martes debido a una amenaza que finalmente el FBI no consideró “creíble”, informaron las autoridades angelinas en una rueda de prensa.

Más de 900 escuelas de Los Ángeles Unified School District (LAUSD, en inglés), el mayor sistema de escuelas públicas de California con más de 700.000 estudiantes, permanecieron cerradas por una amenaza que incluía el uso de artefactos explosivos y armas de fuego y que las autoridades angelinas consideraron “creíble” durante la mañana.

La escuela intermedia Hollenbeck en Boyle Heights fue una de las 900 escuelas cerradas por amenaza de seguridad. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

La escuela intermedia Hollenbeck en Boyle Heights fue una de las 900 escuelas cerradas por amenaza de seguridad. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

El presidente de la junta escolar, Steve Zimmer, aseguró en la tarde que, tras inspeccionar 1.531 centros educativos en Los Ángeles, las autoridades pudieron concluir que las “escuelas son seguras” y que por ello el miércoles regresarán los estudiantes.

Zimmer destacó el esfuerzo hecho por la comunidad educativa durante la jornada y la colaboración entre las diferentes fuerzas de seguridad.

Asimismo, el alcalde de Los Ángeles, Eric Garcetti, manifestó también en la misma conferencia que el FBI había determinado tras su investigación que “esta amenaza no es creíble”, por lo que subrayó que la ciudad “está segura”.??En un comunicado, el superintendente Ramón Cortines reconoció que había sido “un día difícil” por el primer cierre del LAUSD “en décadas”.

“Tomé la decisión de cerrar las escuelas el martes y esto no fue una decisión hecha a la ligera. Creó interrupciones en la vida de nuestros estudiantes, nuestros empleados y sus familias (…). Tomé esta decisión colmada de precaución y en un esfuerzo para garantizar la protección y seguridad de nuestras escuelas”, añadió Cortines.

 

Padres Latinos Buscan Más Inclusión Informativa en Escuelas de LAUSD

October 29, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Profesores y padres de familia de Los Ángeles buscan disminuir el elevado número de aulas con más de 45 estudiantes existentes el año pasado en un esfuerzo que se suma al de un sector angelino de mayoría hispana de bajos ingresos que pide mayores recursos para sus escuelas.

Tanto el Sindicato de Maestros de Los Ángeles (UTLA) como los activistas recalcaron el lunes que el problema afecta las condiciones de aprendizaje de las minorías y de los hispanos.

“Esa es una de las preocupaciones que han expresado los padres”, aseguró en entrevista con Efe Tessie Borden, directora de Comunicaciones y coordinadora de Defensoría del Centro de Recursos Centroamericanos (CARECEN).

Por su parte, el presidente de UTLA, Alex Caputo-Pearl, aseguró que el sindicato está presionando al Distrito Escolar para que “ponga por obra de manera efectiva” y continúe con la disminución del número de estudiantes por clase.

Caputo-Pearl señaló a Efe que en “todo lo largo del LAUSD miles de estudiantes se enfrentan a condiciones de aprendizaje que no son las mejores, debido al tamaño de las clases”, y aseguró que el tema formará parte importante de las futuras negociaciones de los maestros con el Distrito.

La representante de CARECEN explicó que en reuniones de preparación para un foro que sostuvieron padres de familia del sector de mayoría hispana Pico-Union de Los Ángeles con el LAUSD, se cuestionó el número de alumnos por clase.

En las escuelas de este sector hispano, “ahora hay más estudiantes por clase y antes teníamos Comités de Título 1 para las escuelas de bajos recursos y ya no los tenemos”, anotó en declaraciones a Efe Diana Guillén, madre de familia de una escuela de Pico-Unión y miembro del Comité de Escuelas de Estudiantes Aprendices de Inglés del área que agrupa a más de 100 escuelas.

Guillén, quien por cerca de ocho años ha colaborado en los procesos de las escuelas, destacó que los padres de familia de estudiantes hispanos “sí están interesados en participar, pero durante más de tres años no hemos tenido acceso a información importante sobre los cambios”.

Guillén aseguró que cada vez la participación de los padres hispanos en la escuela de sus hijos es menor, porque “aunque sí queremos no tenemos las herramientas necesarias”.

La reunión del lunes se centró principalmente en la utilización de los fondos de la denominada Fórmula de Financiamiento de Control Local (LCFF), establecida por el gobernador Jerry Brown para distribuir recursos a las escuelas públicas.

La LCFF establece prioridad para asignar dinero a escuelas con “niños de bajos recursos, niños que son aprendices de inglés y niños que viven en hogares de crianza”, destacó la activista.

“El Distrito ha prometido que va tener estos comentarios en cuenta para desarrollar pautas justas en cuanto la utilización de ese dinero”, agregó.

Un estudio realizado en el 2014 por el Proyecto de Derechos Civiles de la Universidad de California Los Ángeles (UCLA) encontró que “los estudiantes latinos del estado son los más segregados del país”.

“Los latinos en promedio atienden a escuelas en donde tres cuartas partes de los estudiantes son pobres y están fuertemente concentrados en escuelas que tienen mucha menor calidad”, aseguró el estudio al analizar el Índice de Desempeño Académico.

Un estudiante latino promedio en California asiste a una escuela en la que el 84% de estudiantes no es blanco y donde solamente el 20% de los hispanos toma el examen estandarizado de ingreso a la universidad, conocido como SAT.

El estudio, sin embargo, encontró que los estudiantes de origen asiático aunque son minoría, estudian principalmente en escuelas de mayoría blanca, más del 50% aplica al SAT y tienen mejor rendimiento académico que los latinos.

“Estamos buscando que los padres de familia latinos se lancen a tomar la iniciativa y que seamos los principales defensores de nosotros mismos”, concluyó Guillén.

 

LAUSD Superintendent Search Goes ‘Public’

October 22, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The first of several meetings scheduled to get public input into the search for a new superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District was held Monday night at the Roybal Learning Center in Los Angeles.

Only 30 or so people attended the meeting but it quickly became clear that there was an area of general agreement: whoever is selected to head the country’s second largest school district must be more accessible to parents, students and teachers. They must also respect parents and be more visible and hands on at District schools.

Some people said they think the new superintendent should be hired from within the District and understand how LAUSD works.

Lea este artículo en Español: Comeniza la Búsqueda para el Próximo Superintendente de LAUSD

Parents should be able to vote for the superintendent, it was also said.

LAUSD Board of Education President Steve Zimmer briefly attended the Monday meeting but didn’t speak. He told EGP he will stop by into some of the public meetings and will get updates from the consultant hired to oversee the search process, but won’t get involved in the conversations, which he said the Board sees more as focus groups.

“When people come to a meeting with a board member there it has a different tone,” Zimmer explained. He said the School Board wants to make sure there is “extensive community outreach.”

Boyle Heights resident Luz Maria Montoya has a seventh grader with special needs at Hollenbeck Middle School. She said Monday that the next superintendent needs to step in and take a closer look when important decisions are being made at the school level, such as the selection of a new principal.

As an example, Montoya cited the hiring of a new principal for Roosevelt High School whom she claimed had “no experience” but was nonetheless hired to run the eastside school with over 2,000 students.

“The board of education is not putting any emphasis on choosing qualified principals,” she complained.

Mario Burnell is a teacher at Riverside Drive Charter School, an elementary school located in Sherman Oaks. He said Monday that the new superintendent needs to have direct knowledge of how teachers and parents feel about their principal. Today, there’s no communication now between the current superintendent and teachers and parents, said Burnell, who told EGP he has been a teacher for 18 years and has watched nine principals pass through the school. In all those years, he said, “Nobody has ever asked parents or teachers if they like [the principal] … decisions are taken from a higher level.”

People at Monday’s LAUSD meeting at the Roybal Learning Center call for a more accessible superintendent. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

People at Monday’s LAUSD meeting at the Roybal Learning Center call for a more accessible superintendent. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

LAUSD enrolls more than 640,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade at more than 900 public schools and 187 public charters, according to the District’s website.

The current superintendent, Ramon Cortines, earlier this year announced plans to retire by the end of this December.  In response to his inpending departure, the school board hired an executive search firm that specializes in finding school district executives, to oversee the search process. Seventy meetings, including 22 community meetings have been scheduled across the District to gather “authentic information” from parents, teachers and the community.

If Monday is any indication of sentiments across the LAUSD, there is a strong desire for a superintendent who is a good communicator and responsive.

Several people said they want a superintendent who has education experience and won’t be mired in the politics of public schools vs. charter schools, but will instead focus on what’s best for students.

“Us, parents, know what the problems are but the superintendent is not aware of it,” Elsa Villareal, the parent of two high school students at Robert Kennedy High School in the Northeast San Fernando Valley said in Spanish.

Students’ voices must also be heard, added Lucia Ortiz, a student at Abraham Lincoln High School in the Northeast  L.A. neighborhood of Lincoln Heights. She said the superintendent must base decisions on what students want, because “Students play an important role.”

Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) told EGP via email that public schools need a leader, selected through a transparent process, who deeply knows and has lived public education and has a track record of collaboration with parents and employees.

“What we absolutely don’t need is a graduate from the Eli Broad Academy who wants to run schools like businesses, open unregulated sectors that aren’t good for kids and educators, and turn students into commodities and measures of market share,” he said. Caputo-Pearl was referring to the “The Great Public Schools Now Initiative,” which according to the LA Times, seeks to move half of all LAUSD students into charter schools within 8 years, and increase the number of charter schools from 187 to 260.

The debate over charter schools is one of the hottest education issues in the LAUSD.

List of public meetings to provide input for the next LAUSD superintendent. (LAUSD)

List of public meetings to provide input for the next LAUSD superintendent. (LAUSD)

While some parents, teachers and activists feel charter schools are hurting students by taking money away from public schools, others, like East Los Angeles resident Alicia Ortiz, don’t see it as a problem.

“At the end of the day, all that I want is that my son finishes school,” whether it’s at a public or charter school doesn’t matter, she told EGP.

Ortiz’s son is a 10th grader at Oscar de La Hoya Animo Charter High School. She said she wants a superintendent who is open-minded, ready to work, impartial and a leader.

“We have a strict district, but we also have parents that demand better education” for their children, she told the audience.

School Board Member Monica Garcia did not attend the meeting but told EGP her very “vigilant” staff is keeping her up to date on what’s being said.

“I’m very interested in a responsible and accountable superintendent,” she said, adding that she believes it’s important to hear from the public before a decision is made.

“We want to make sure we hear from people, either in person or by taking the survey” online or submitting by mail, she said.

Recently, Communities for Los Angeles Student’s Success (CLASS)—a coalition of community groups that says it’s dedicated to ensuring LAUSD provides students with high quality education—sent an open letter- published in this newspaper – to the Board of Education specifying the “desired characteristics” that the next superintendent should have.

“Our expectation is that you will hire the type of Superintendent who will lead this district down the path of continued student achievement gains, like the ones we have seen in recent years. This is a critical moment for LAUSD. It calls for collaborative leadership and solution-driven action,” states the letter.

Time is running out to find Cortines’ replacement, but according to Zimmer, the search process – which is to include dozens of meeting with stakeholders, elected officials, business leaders, teacher employee unions and staff – should be completed by Dec. 31. He added, however, that if the School Board is not satisfied with the results, they can continue the process by either asking Cortines to stay a little longer, or selecting an interim superintendent.

For more information visit: http://achieve.lausd.net//site/Default.aspx?PageID=9825

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Twitter @jackiereporter

jgarcia@egpnews.com

 

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