Tag Archives: Los Angeles Unified School District

New Los Angeles Charter Elementary School To Continue To Co-Locate At Baldwin Hills Elementary School For The 2019-2020 School Year Even Though Everyone Is Unhappy About It — LAUSD Gave NLA No Other Choice According To Executive Director Brooke Rios — But In Order To Assuage Tension New LA Will Not Use Any Additional Classroom Space — Will Be Forced To Increase Class Size To Accomplish This — Desperate Search For New Site Continues With Formation Of Board Committee

You may recall that the recent UTLA strike inspired me to spend a little time using the public records act to look into the state of charter schools in Los Angeles, and one of the ones I’m looking into a little is New Los Angeles Charter Schools. After a little of the usual nonsense I was able to obtain a bunch of emails relating to the strike.

The story behind the story, well-told in LA Taco by Daniel Hernandez, is that the public Baldwin Hills Elementary School is forced by state law to cede part of its campus to New Los Angeles Charter Elementary School, a process called co-location. It’s never been a comfortable arrangement but the strike brought everything to the surface, and the emails revealed that New Los Angeles executive director Brooke Rios didn’t think it was possible to continue co-locating there given that everyone hated them:

It is clear that the strike gave voice to the mounting tension between Baldwin Hills and New LA. To be frank—we are not welcomed there. Our Prop 39 offer will be issued on February 1, and it is likely that we will be offered one more classroom at Baldwin for 18-19. It is difficult to imagine another year on that campus after this week, and I am eager to consider other solutions.

Proposition 39 created this co-location system, and the Prop 39 offer that Rios talks about there is a formal offer from LAUSD allocating public school space to a charter school. And given that the offer would issue on February 1, I made plans to attend the next meeting of the board of directors to see what was going to happen. And if I’m going to attend, I’m going to film, of course.

So last night they held the meeting out at their secret headquarters on Washington Blvd. just east of Hauser. I rode the bus all the way out there and taped the whole damn thing. So behold! Eighty four minutes of mind-numbing mumbling with a few really interesting things interspersed. Watch it at your peril, but also take a look here where Brooke Rios discusses the Prop 39 offer. To everyone’s dismay New Los Angeles was offered space at Baldwin Hills Elementary School and given no choice at all in the matter.

And Rios announces that New Los Angeles will seek not to exacerbate the tension any further by not taking up any more classroom space than they have been taking. So they’re not leaving, but they’re not expanding into more classrooms. This is going to require a significant increase in class size, which Rios and some board members anticipate will make parents pretty unhappy and might even induce some of them to move their kids to another school. How does Rios propose to deal with this desperate situation? Like any good bureaucrat, she’s forming a committee of the board! The committee will be looking for affordable privately-owned space that doesn’t involve co-location, which has turned out to be unreliable.

It was interesting but not surprising that throughout the discussion at the board meeting, no one on the primarily white board of directors or staff even mentioned the racial aspects of the situation, well explained by Hernandez, which is that the charter school is taking up space that could be used to serve the primarily African-American student body at Baldwin Hills.

It’s heartening to see that protests, shunning, and similar social action1 can actually lead to charters leaving co-located schools, or at least really trying their best to leave! There really aren’t other tools available to the parents of public school children to rid their campuses of privatizers, forced on them by state law. Nothing got settled at last night’s meeting, but I will continue to follow the story. Turn the page for a transcription of some of the discussion.
Continue reading New Los Angeles Charter Elementary School To Continue To Co-Locate At Baldwin Hills Elementary School For The 2019-2020 School Year Even Though Everyone Is Unhappy About It — LAUSD Gave NLA No Other Choice According To Executive Director Brooke Rios — But In Order To Assuage Tension New LA Will Not Use Any Additional Classroom Space — Will Be Forced To Increase Class Size To Accomplish This — Desperate Search For New Site Continues With Formation Of Board Committee

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Emails From New Los Angeles Charter Schools About The UTLA Strike Shine Some Light On Various Interesting Matters — Uncomfortable New LA Charter Co-Location At Baldwin Hills Elementary School Will Probably End Soon Due To Tensions Exposed By Pickets — “We Are Not Welcomed There” Says New LA Charter Boss Brooke Rios — Speaking Of Pickets, New LA Charter Staff Filmed UTLA Strikers At Baldwin Hills Elementary — And Copies Of CCSA Anti-Union Propaganda And Some Info About Astroturf Demonstration — And A Poignant Little Episode — New LA Charter Teachers Quasi-Union Asks Rios If They Might Please Also Maybe Get A Raise Too If UTLA Does — Pretty Please?

I hadn’t thought much about charter schools in Los Angeles for quite a while, but as happened for many people the dazzling success of the UTLA strike brought them back into my attention. Combine that with the fact that they are subject to the California Public Records Act and the next step was inevitable! And the first of the many many requests I have out came in recently! Part of which I wrote about the other day!

After a little of the usual back and forth about what’s required by the law, New Los Angeles Charter Schools head honcho Brooke Rios actually did hand over the goods. And thus did I drag myself all the way out to the corner of Washington and Burnside, where they have their secret headquarters, and sit in the office of operations director Xochitl Lira and scan a ton of paper! And it’s all available on Archive.Org!1

I chose New LA because of this fine LA Taco article by Daniel Hernandez about the tensions created by that school’s so-called co-location on the campus of Baldwin Hills Elementary School. To summarize Hernandez’s piece is to degrade it, so read it, but co-location, in which LAUSD schools are forced by the 2000 Proposition 39 to yield space to charter schools if it’s not actually being used to house an actual class, is the main site of contention.2

It has really hurt the LAUSD schools who lose space to charters. And the space lost to New Los Angeles Charter was a big issue with UTLA picketers at Baldwin Hills Elementary, who shouted slogans like “Privatization leads to segregation” and “Privatizers take a hike!” And, according to some of the emails I obtained today, it looks like the pickets were successful in that New Los Angeles will be looking for a new space for next year.

The emails also demonstrate the tension there during the strike, with police being called, with New LA staff filming the picketers, and so on. There are links and transcriptions below the break. Also below the break are links to a wide variety of fascinating emails about other strike-related topics. There are propaganda pieces from the California Charter Schools Association, giving talking points, tips for handling worried parents, polemics on how bad it is that everyone hates charter schools, and so on.

There are rumors about charter school kids being targeted on public transportation and so on, leading New LA to suspend its dress code during the strike, there are organizational communications having to do with the astroturf pro-charter rally that the CCSA organized outside the LAUSD board meeting where a recommendation for a charter cap was voted on.

And, most poignant of all, there’s a pleading letter from something called “The Teacher Collective” asking Brooke Rios in a markedly subservient tone if New Los Angeles teachers will also get a raise if the UTLA teachers win one in their strike. Sounds like some folks are ripe to be organized! Turn the page for links to everything and transcriptions of some things!
Continue reading Emails From New Los Angeles Charter Schools About The UTLA Strike Shine Some Light On Various Interesting Matters — Uncomfortable New LA Charter Co-Location At Baldwin Hills Elementary School Will Probably End Soon Due To Tensions Exposed By Pickets — “We Are Not Welcomed There” Says New LA Charter Boss Brooke Rios — Speaking Of Pickets, New LA Charter Staff Filmed UTLA Strikers At Baldwin Hills Elementary — And Copies Of CCSA Anti-Union Propaganda And Some Info About Astroturf Demonstration — And A Poignant Little Episode — New LA Charter Teachers Quasi-Union Asks Rios If They Might Please Also Maybe Get A Raise Too If UTLA Does — Pretty Please?

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Summer Of 2017 — Pacific Palisades BID Decides To Try To Collect Full Assessments From LAUSD — Which Does Not Pay Them To Any BID In Los Angeles — BID President Elliot Zorensky — His Burgeoning Paranoia In Full And Ample Abundance — Tells Laurie Sale That Miranda Paster Is Fighting Against The BID — And Also Goes Behind Laurie Sale’s Back To Negotiate With The City — Making Her Look Even More Foolish Than Even She Could Reasonably Pull Off Under Her Own Power

It’s well known to local BIDdologists that the Los Angeles Unified School District doesn’t keep pace with its companions amongst City entities, no doubt because it hears the beat of a distinctly different drummer.1 For instance we’ve seen recently how the LAUSD even voted against renewing a bunch of BIDs! Not only is it impossible to imagine the City of Los Angeles doing such a thing2 but it’s actually illegal for the City Clerk to vote against BIDs unless the City Council specifically authorizes it, and how is that ever going to happen?

And somewhat famously, the LAUSD evidently voids all its BID petitions by inserting some kind of unauthorized limiting clause. However, these symptoms of the LAUSD’s idiosyncratic attitude towards BIDs are minor quirks compared to the radical agenda set forth in this 2003 memo on LAUSD BID policy.

There’s a lot going on in that memo, but the first thing to look at is the fee schedule on the last page. The short version is that the LAUSD has unilaterally decided that it will not pay the entire amount of its BID assessments. Instead, they pay between 15% and 50% depending on a number of factors regardless of what the BID has decided to bill them.

And evidently BIDs around Los Angeles have just learned to slurp down that bitter draught, because what else exactly are they going to do about it? They have no power to make the LAUSD pay so they have to be content with what they can get rather than what they should get. That is, evidently most BIDs have so learned. The ones run by the marginally competent, the marginally sane, the marginally realistic, and so on. In short, the ones not run by Elliot Zorensky and Laurie Sale of the marginally famous Pacific Palisades BID.

And here is where today’s story begins! It seems that last summer this pair of super-geniuses, almost certainly at the behest of Elliot Zorensky, the superest super-genius of them all, decided that they were going to get that damnable LAUSD to pay the damn money that they damn well owed to the damn BID! Never mind that this was a path every other BID in this City of Angels feared to tread, Elliot Freaking Zorensky was going to rush in! Turn the page for the play by play!
Continue reading Summer Of 2017 — Pacific Palisades BID Decides To Try To Collect Full Assessments From LAUSD — Which Does Not Pay Them To Any BID In Los Angeles — BID President Elliot Zorensky — His Burgeoning Paranoia In Full And Ample Abundance — Tells Laurie Sale That Miranda Paster Is Fighting Against The BID — And Also Goes Behind Laurie Sale’s Back To Negotiate With The City — Making Her Look Even More Foolish Than Even She Could Reasonably Pull Off Under Her Own Power

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Has The Los Angeles Unified School District Turned Against BIDs? — At Its May 8, 2018 The School Board Voted Against A Staff Recommendation To Support Seven Renewals — On The Grounds That The Money Would Be Better Used For — Gasp!! — Educating Students

It’s well-known that the City of Los Angeles always votes its property in favor of BID formation. In fact, an ordinance passed in 1996 directs the Clerk to vote yes on both petitions and ballots unless the City Council specifically directs otherwise. And to my knowledge, the same has been true of the Los Angeles Unified School District. There have been signs, albeit not dispositive, of some LAUSD discontent with the policy, e.g. the probably intentional voiding of all petitions, but no open rebellion that I’m aware of.

And BIDs are evidently used to taking LAUSD petitions and ballots for granted. For instance, the Byzantine Latino Quarter BID is currently in the process of renewing.1 And I just received a huge release of emails about the renewal from BLQBID director Moises Gomez, which you can look at here on Archive.Org. It’s clear from the discussion that Don Duckworth and Moises Gomez were counting the LAUSD petitions as already-hatched chickens2 but, amazingly, it was not to be.

In April 2018 LAUSD staff prepared a report recommending that the Board sign petitions approving seven BIDs in Los Angeles. But at its May 8, 2018 meeting, the LAUSD Board voted down the staff proposal, and, according to staffer Yekaterina Boyajian, writing in an email to Moises Gomez on May 21, this is how it went down:

The proposal for the District to sign these petitions in support of the BIDs was not approved. The Board expressed the desire to support the BID petitions, and staff spoke to the positive relationships schools have with existing BIDs, but the Board felt that they could not justify supporting the expenditure of public education funds for purposes other than education in a time when the District is facing historic budget deficits.

It wasn’t just the BLQ BID that got its hopes dashed, either. The other BIDs whose petitions were rejected were the Arts District, the Fashion District, the Hollywood Entertainment District, the Hollywood Media District, the Lincoln Heights Benefit District, and the Melrose BID. Quite a distinguished list, eh?

And turn the page for a detailed explanation of the BLQ BID’s evolving thinking about these LAUSD petitions between February and May 2018, along with the usual links to and transcriptions of any number of really interesting emails!
Continue reading Has The Los Angeles Unified School District Turned Against BIDs? — At Its May 8, 2018 The School Board Voted Against A Staff Recommendation To Support Seven Renewals — On The Grounds That The Money Would Be Better Used For — Gasp!! — Educating Students

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The Los Angeles Unified School District Evidently Voids All Its BID Establishment Petitions By Adding A Limiting Clause — They Seem To Add The Same Clause To Their Actual Ballots But Evidently It Does Not Void Them — It’s Not Clear What’s Going On Here But Probably Something Is

I recently received almost a thousand pages of emails between the Los Angeles City Clerk‘s office and correspondents at various BIDs. You can obtain the whole pile here on Archive.Org. Among these was this interesting little exchange between Clerk staffie Dennis Rader and notorious outlaw BID consultant Aaron Aulenta of Urban Place Consulting.

This post is dedicated to exploring the issues raised by this email. It’s unavoidably technical, so you may want to skip it. On the other hand, at least I’m not going to call anyone nasty names, which I know will please a certain perennially disgruntled audience segment. Boring or not, though, it touches on essential and little-explored issues of BIDology. The exchange began on May 7, 2018, when Aaron Aulenta emailed Dennis Rader:

I know you’re probably swamped at the moment with the ballot mail-out this week, but I had a quick lausd question. Do you know if they returned a petition for either Hollywood or Fashion without hand writing in the ‘approval conditioned upon’ phrase? In other words, did they return a petition that was officially counted?

Continue reading The Los Angeles Unified School District Evidently Voids All Its BID Establishment Petitions By Adding A Limiting Clause — They Seem To Add The Same Clause To Their Actual Ballots But Evidently It Does Not Void Them — It’s Not Clear What’s Going On Here But Probably Something Is

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A Crucial Open Question in Anti-BID Theory: Where Does the City Clerk Get the Authority to Sign Pro-BID Petitions Before the BID is Approved? Arts District BID Episode From 2013 Highlights City’s Hypocrisy On This Issue and Collusion With Carol Schatz

Holly Wolcott, Clerk of the City of Los Angeles, in June 2015.
Holly Wolcott, Clerk of the City of Los Angeles, in June 2015.
UPDATE: This problem is now solved. Let’s work on fixing things!

Roughly, the process for creating a new BID goes like this: Some property owners hire a consultant who collects petitions in favor of the BID. When petitions adding up to more than 50% of the total assessments in the proposed district are on hand, they’re submitted to the City Clerk, who then takes the matter to City Council.1 One interesting aspect of this is that City-owned parcels in the proposed district are voted in exactly the same way that privately owned parcels are. That the City always votes in favor of BIDs is well-known, although see below for an episode where the City actually opposed a BID proposal.2 In fact, part of the consultant’s job seems to be to gerrymander as much City-owned property into the BID as possible so as to minimize the requisite number of agreeable private owners. The City Clerk, currently Holly Wolcott, is somehow authorized to sign petitions on the City’s behalf for City-owned parcels.

But the petitions must be signed before City Council can pass an ordinance of intention to form the BID. For instance, in the case of the proposed Venice Beach BID, consultant Tara Devine submitted the signed petitions to the Clerk before June 24, 2016. City Council passed the Ordinance of Intention on July 1, 2016. But see these pro-BID petitions for City parcels, signed by Holly Wolcott on June 15, more than a week before Council voted to authorize the BID process. Of course the City always favors BID formation, but where does the Clerk derive the authority to sign these? It can’t be from the Council vote, which happens afterwards. There must be a law or a rule or something authorizing this. I haven’t been able to find it yet, although I’m sure it exists.
Continue reading A Crucial Open Question in Anti-BID Theory: Where Does the City Clerk Get the Authority to Sign Pro-BID Petitions Before the BID is Approved? Arts District BID Episode From 2013 Highlights City’s Hypocrisy On This Issue and Collusion With Carol Schatz

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A 2013 Arrest for Violating PC 653b at Selma Park Further Confirms Ongoing Pattern of Civil Rights Violations by Andrews International BID Patrol

BID Patrol Officer Islas in 2014.
BID Patrol Officer George Islas (badge number 128) in 2014.
Long-time readers of this blog will recall that in 2007 the HPOA, by hook and by crook, put up signs in Selma Park in Hollywood (illegally) declaring it off-limits to adults unaccompanied by children. Subsequently, the Andrews International BID Patrol spent the next eight years falsely arresting people and shooing them out of the park on the basis of these unauthorized signs, until we got them taken down by the City in September 2015. Subsequently, Kerry Morrison told a friend of this blog that “A/I says that after looking into this, it is unlikely that any arrests ever were made by A/I in Selma Park with specific regard to the signs and penal code section you recite (as opposed to public urination, drinking, and other reasons)…” Today, in the form of an actual A/I arrest report from July 2013, we have more evidence that, even though Kerry is almost certainly telling the truth about what she was told by A/I, what she was told by A/I is not the truth.
Continue reading A 2013 Arrest for Violating PC 653b at Selma Park Further Confirms Ongoing Pattern of Civil Rights Violations by Andrews International BID Patrol

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Update on Selma Park Situation: Kerry Morrison Makes Crucial Admission Against Interest, Andrews International Misleads Regarding Past Actions, Records Requests from LAUSD and Neighborhood Council Still Pending

Selma Park in April, 2007, after it became a target of the BID but before they opened fire.  We have no hard evidence yet, but we'd say that this photo of a man dancing happily in the park was intended to depict the kind of thing that must be STOPPED!
BID Patrol surveillance photo of Selma Park in April, 2007, after it became a target of the BID but before they opened fire. We have no hard evidence yet, but we’d say that this photo of a man dancing happily in the park was intended to depict the kind of thing that must be STOPPED!
Long-time readers of this blog will recall that in late 2007 the HPOA put signs up in Selma Park in Hollywood which stated ominiously:

Children’s Play Area Only
Adults Not Accompanying Children Prohibited
Sec 653b, subdivision a, CA Penal Code

We discovered in September 2015 that these signs were placed illegally, informed the LA Recreation and Parks Commission, and they were removed within 14 days of our communication with RAP. Read here for more background.
Close-up of former sign in Selma Park falsely claiming it to be a "Children's Play Area Only."
Close-up of former sign in Selma Park falsely claiming it to be a “Children’s Play Area Only.”

Our correspondent, Mike has made and continues to make innumerable requests for public records in order to help us sort out exactly what happened in that park. Today we’re going to update you on some requests that did not result in the production of records, but whose outcomes yielded interesting information nevertheless.

First, on November 16, 2015, Kerry told our correspondent that “A/I says that after looking into this, it is unlikely that any arrests ever were made by A/I in Selma Park with specific regard to the signs and penal code section you recite (as opposed to public urination, drinking, and other reasons)…” While we have no doubts at all that that’s what A/I (Andrews International) told Kerry Morrison, who on all evidence is a scrupulously honest person, their statement is flat-out not true, which to us indicates consciousness of guilt on their part. The details follow after the break.

Furthermore, in that same response, Kerry Morrison admitted that she has no records proving that the elements of the statute cited were ever met for anyone arrested for being in that park without children. If this is accurate, and we have no reason to doubt that it is, then even if the BID had had some authority for placing the signs, which they did not, any arrests made by the BID in the park for violating PC 653b(a) were false arrests. The explanation of this is a little wonkish, and can be found after the break.
Continue reading Update on Selma Park Situation: Kerry Morrison Makes Crucial Admission Against Interest, Andrews International Misleads Regarding Past Actions, Records Requests from LAUSD and Neighborhood Council Still Pending

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