Tag Archives: Los Angeles Unified School District

Two Of My Public Records Act Lawsuits Against Charter Schools Settled In April 2020 — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ PUC Charter Schools — Between Them They Paid More Than $11K — Which Was Supposed To Be Spent On Educating Children — But Which These Privatizing Pirate Academies Wasted Due To Their Appalling And Antisocial Arrogance — Here’s Some Background And Copies Of The Settlement Agreements!

As you probably know I’ve been investigating LAUSD charter schools using the California Public Records Act since January 2019. I was moved to this work1 by the monumental UTLA strike and especially the union’s focus on charter co-location.

I obtained some striking early results including an incredibly consequential release of emails from Green Dot Charter Schools, some of the fruits of which got wide and fairly devastating coverage in the media, including the Los Angeles Times, and Capital and Main, and Diane Ravitch’s blog, and elsewhere.

But this kind of success breeds resistance, so a lot of charters lawyered up and stopped producing records in response to my requests, or even stopped producing without the benefit of a lawyer’s advice.2 The only option left in such a situation is to start filing lawsuits, and that’s just what I’ve been forced to do.

In January 2020, for instance, I filed two.3 One ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ and the other against white savior charter conspiracy PUC Charter Schools, in some vague sense co-founded by former LAUSD board member and convicted felon Ref Rodriguez.
Continue reading Two Of My Public Records Act Lawsuits Against Charter Schools Settled In April 2020 — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ PUC Charter Schools — Between Them They Paid More Than $11K — Which Was Supposed To Be Spent On Educating Children — But Which These Privatizing Pirate Academies Wasted Due To Their Appalling And Antisocial Arrogance — Here’s Some Background And Copies Of The Settlement Agreements!

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The City Of Los Angeles Shells Out More Than $2.2M Per Year To Business Improvement Districts — Add In Other Local Public Money — Like LAUSD — And Metro — And LA County — The Total Is More Than $3.7M Per Year To The BIDdies — Not Sure How Many People That Could Put In How Many Hotel Rooms For How Many Nights — But It’s A Lot — Not Sure How Many City Employee Furloughs That Money Could Prevent — But It’s A Lot More Than Zero Of Them — Remember That When They Tell You They Can’t Afford Something — They’re Choosing Not To Afford It

Spend some time hanging around business improvement districts and you’ll certainly hear a bunch of entitled zillionaires whining, bragging, or lying about how they voluntarily agree to spend their own damn money to provide services that the City of Los Angeles is too incompetent, too broke, or too both of these to provide. They just love explaining this to everyone. And the City of Los Angeles is also thrilled with that narrative. This City-produced BID FAQ explains it quite clearly:

[A] majority of business owners of commercial property owners in a given area decide to acquire special benefits and to pay for those benefits themselves.

The story serves everyone’s interests. The BIDdies get to imagine themselves as heroes of putative private sector efficiency and the City gets a bunch of useful idiots to carry out policies that would be incredibly illegal if the City did them directly. Everybody wins but the citizens of Los Angeles. The part you don’t hear too much about, though, the part that none of them really like to discuss, is that when property owned by the City or by other public agencies is included in a BID then the City or the other public agency is also subject to these assessments.

This is specifically authorized by the Property and Business Improvement District Law under which BIDs are established in California.1 This means that when the City Council approves a business improvement district it’s often also approving an ongoing annual payment to the BIDdies. Which, by the way, can be substantial. Over the last few days I looked at various public records involved in BID formation in LA and learned that the City of Los Angeles is on the hook for annual payments to BIDs of at least $2,278,604.2

If LAUSD, Metro, and the County are included the total is $3,710,281 and property owned by the State of California brings the total amount of public money paid annually to LA BIDs to $4,203,276.3 These days, with the City of Los Angeles furloughing employees and moaning about the price of hotel rooms to protect unhoused residents from the ongoing pandemic, there are much, much better uses that that money could be put to.4
Continue reading The City Of Los Angeles Shells Out More Than $2.2M Per Year To Business Improvement Districts — Add In Other Local Public Money — Like LAUSD — And Metro — And LA County — The Total Is More Than $3.7M Per Year To The BIDdies — Not Sure How Many People That Could Put In How Many Hotel Rooms For How Many Nights — But It’s A Lot — Not Sure How Many City Employee Furloughs That Money Could Prevent — But It’s A Lot More Than Zero Of Them — Remember That When They Tell You They Can’t Afford Something — They’re Choosing Not To Afford It

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The Accelerated Schools Sued To Compel Compliance With The California Public Records Act – My First CPRA Petition Against A Charter School – But Not The Last – Not – By – Any – Means

As you may know I have been making requests of charter schools under the California Public Records Act for about a year now. Some of them have been incredibly cooperative while others, well, you know how it goes, have been less so. And no doubt you’re aware by now that the only mechanism to compel compliance with the CPRA is to file a lawsuit. Which brings us to that shady criminal conspiracy known as The Accelerated Schools. I’ve written a lot about these folks and their cartoonishly wicked white supremacy but, you may have noted, none of it has been based on public records apart from this very first thing I did in April 2019.

So I sent them a few more requests after the one that post was based on and they made a few desultory stabs at answering me in compliance with the law and then stopped responding at all. But as you’re probably aware, the situation with this Klown Kar Krew has grown ever more urgent, more of public interest than ever before.

What, that is, with their retaliatory firing of long-time employee Hilda Guzman and subsequent unfair labor practices complaint by her union, with repeated community protests at their infernal board meetings, and the unexpected1 recent petulant rage quit by now thankfully former board chair Juli Quinn. We need to be able to understand what these folks are up to! Which is why their special variety of unhinged intransigence can’t go unanswered, not if we expect government of, by, and for the people to not perish from this earth.

And in pursuance of it not perishing, therefore, I filed a writ petition against these privatizing creepers a couple weeks ago. And for this reason and that reason it took a while to get it served, but it was served this morning, and at long last I can publish a copy of it. And there are transcribed selections below, so stay tuned for updates and, eventually, more of the spicy records-based mockery you’re here for!
Continue reading The Accelerated Schools Sued To Compel Compliance With The California Public Records Act – My First CPRA Petition Against A Charter School – But Not The Last – Not – By – Any – Means

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The California Charter School Association Provides Free And Discounted Lawyers To Charter Schools To Help Them With Co-Location – And Putative Good Guy Lefty Law Firm Public Counsel Evidently Provides Free 501(c)(3) Work To Incipient Charter Schools – Which Is Totally Freaking Not Consistent With Actual Good Guy Lefty-Ism – Oh Also – Excelencia Charter Academy Founder And Head Boss Ruben Alonzo Is A Childishly Moronic Clown Who Can’t Stand Criticism – And Goes Running And Crying To Authority Figures Trying To Get People In Trouble – And Then Cackles Like A Poobutt About It With His Self-Proclaimed Wife – Those Are My Stories And I’m Sticking Him To Them!

There are many, many, many problems with charter schools in Los Angeles,1 not least of which is this co-location nonsense they get up to, authorized by some malcriado state law known as Prop 39 which allows charter schools to vampiratically fasten themselves to the necks of genuine public schools and drain their life and vitality by aggressively colonizing their physical classrooms and school spaces.2

Everybody sane hates this, and it’s the occasion for protests across LA Unified, like e.g. at Baldwin Hills Elementary School, and at Catskill Elementary in Carson, and at Sunrise Elementary in Boyle Heights. And while it is true that everybody sane hates this well, tragedy indeed, it’s also true that not everybody is sane. In particular let us consider the California Charter School Association, about as unsane a gang of grievous grifters as can be.

These appalling privatizers not only want to use the next ten years to put every kid in the state in a damn charter school, but they openly3 scheme with self-proclaimed boy genius and lame duck school board member Nick Melvoin to further this scheme by weaponizing the already weaponized-by-design Prop 39. And not only that, but a set of newly released emails, obtained via the CPRA, shows that they also fund free lawyers to help charters navigate the apparently complex process of applying to colonize actual public schools via Prop 39.

The program pays for the first 5 hours from one of California’s pre-eminent privatizing law firms, Young Minney Corr or Procopio. After that CCSA funds an additional 5 hours at the discount rate of $200 per. And there’s other help available to new charters, this time, more surprisingly, from the famously leftish pro bono law firm Public Counsel, which seems to provide lawyers to charters to help them form their governing 501(c)(3) corporations.

Not sure what the deal is about this but it was fairly shocking news to me so I am sharing it with you here. Perhaps it’s part of their low-income-serving non-profit formation program. Which makes about as much sense for charter schools as calling Dracula a local peasantry-serving aristocrat.

So anyway, read on for links to salient emails, transcriptions therefrom, and, if you can make it all the way to the end, a transcription of an amusing, revealing, childish, and fairly reprehensible email chain involving Excelencia Charter founder and head boss Ruben Alonzo, and Luis Barraza, principal of Sunrise Elementary School, host organism of Alonzo’s vampirism, and Cynthia Kanagui who, in addition to being some kind of robotic lobbyist at robotic lobbying org Great Public Schools Now, is also Mrs. Ruben Alonzo.4 Alonzo is still angry that Sunrise Elementary teacher Mimi Duncanson is protesting his damn school and he cannot, will not, just stop whining about it.

By the way, this is the same Mimi Duncanson whose car Alonzo, in yet another of the overtop hissy fits for which he’s infamous, tried to get towed by the LAPD but they wouldn’t to it. In this email, transcribed below, Alonzo is all like “Luis she is really mean and called me a vendido!” And Luis is all like “don’t worry I will talk to her!” And then Alonzo emails Kanagui at her personal Gmail address5 and is all like “oooOOOH! Mimi is in big trouble!” Because he’s a childish whiny-baby; and also the kind of person that LAUSD seems to think is fit to educate and care for some actual human children.
Continue reading The California Charter School Association Provides Free And Discounted Lawyers To Charter Schools To Help Them With Co-Location – And Putative Good Guy Lefty Law Firm Public Counsel Evidently Provides Free 501(c)(3) Work To Incipient Charter Schools – Which Is Totally Freaking Not Consistent With Actual Good Guy Lefty-Ism – Oh Also – Excelencia Charter Academy Founder And Head Boss Ruben Alonzo Is A Childishly Moronic Clown Who Can’t Stand Criticism – And Goes Running And Crying To Authority Figures Trying To Get People In Trouble – And Then Cackles Like A Poobutt About It With His Self-Proclaimed Wife – Those Are My Stories And I’m Sticking Him To Them!

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Here’s Some Insight Into How Zillionaires Use Charter Schools To Skim Public Cash Into Their Own Pockets While Providing Exactly Zero Social Benefit In Exchange — Ruben Alonzo — Head Boss Of That Co-Locating Criminal Conspiracy Known As Excelencia Charter Academy — Got His School Approved By LAUSD In April 2018 — Six Weeks Later He Turned Around And Sold The School’s Future Income To Some Shady Finance Company At A Discount — The Extra Money Went Straight To The Finance Company — Why Is This Even A Thing? — How Is This Putting Kids First?

It is well understood that zillionaires are making tons of money from charter schools, even and maybe especially the putatively non-profit ones. And until recently I at least had assumed that this involved esoteric financial schemes that normal human beings like me don’t have a hope of understanding. This is roughly the impression given by various exposes, like this one in Forbes from last year.

But some records I recently obtained from that creepy little conspiracy known as Excelencia Charter Academy via the California Public Records Act show that, at least in some cases, the grift is very straightforward.1 Easy even for humans to comprehend. It’s called “selling receivables.” The idea is very simple. A charter school has guaranteed future income in the form of payments from the state. They sell those payments to a finance company at a discount.

The finance company also charges a transaction fee. So for instance, if a charter has enrollment worth $1,000,000 they might sell those future payments for $980,000 now, which is less 2%. That means that $20,000 of public money, meant to educate children, has just evaporated into some zillionaire’s pocket for no reason, with no social benefit, nothing.2

This is usury. Payday loans for putatively public institutions. It’s textbook predatory lending with the unique distinction that both the borrower and the lender are teaming up to prey on a third party, which is the public. And, as I said, none of this is theoretical. Excelencia Charter Academy actually did this last year, which was their first year in operation.
Continue reading Here’s Some Insight Into How Zillionaires Use Charter Schools To Skim Public Cash Into Their Own Pockets While Providing Exactly Zero Social Benefit In Exchange — Ruben Alonzo — Head Boss Of That Co-Locating Criminal Conspiracy Known As Excelencia Charter Academy — Got His School Approved By LAUSD In April 2018 — Six Weeks Later He Turned Around And Sold The School’s Future Income To Some Shady Finance Company At A Discount — The Extra Money Went Straight To The Finance Company — Why Is This Even A Thing? — How Is This Putting Kids First?

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The Accelerated Schools Board Meeting Will Take Place Thursday December 5 At 10 AM — Nightmarish Racist Automaton Juli Quinn — Soon-To-Be-Former President Of The Board Of Directors — Scheduled To Rage-Quit Over Protests — If You Can’t Stand The Heat Get Out Of The Damn Kitchen — As The Cliche Would Have It — But Also If You Can’t Stand The Heat Stop Doing Evil Stuff That Is Sending You Straight To Hell — Just A Parting Thought For Juli Quinn — Quinn’s Welcome Departure Likely To Usher In Amplified Reign Of Racist Terror — With Psychopathic Greed-Head Real Estate Grifter Leonard Rabinowitz Poised To Take Over Presidency — This Is A Guy Who Wants To Eliminate Special Education From His Damn School — And Only Has Not Because They Can’t Afford The Associated Pay Cut — Come Out To The Meeting And Watch History Being Made!

Our old friends at the white savior privatizing charter conspiracy known as The Accelerated Schools are having a board meeting tomorrow, December 5, at 10 AM on the main campus at 4000 S. Main Street 90037. You may well remember that at their last meeting chaos broke out in response to board president Juli Quinn’s high-handed disdain for the human beings her organization purports to serve, in particular their concern for the immoral and illegal firing of long-time TAS employee Hilda Guzman.

And it seems that Quinn is not only an unreconstructed racist but she’s also a thin-skinned whiny little baby who cannot stand even the slightest criticism. Which is why, according to the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting, Quinn is rage-quitting her position on the board because her fans just don’t love her enough. Oh, and if that’s not fascinating enough, according to this list of proposed officers Quinn’s slated replacement as board boss is thuggish real estate grifter Leonard Rabinowitz.1

By the way, shaming Quinn into quitting her position, making her too uncomfortable to continue, is not only a great victory for the activists responsible, but it’s exactly the kind of thing Americans have been doing to tyrants for centuries. This is how free people exert their power. For a powerful statement of this principle, see this Letter to the Inhabitants of the Province of Quebec, sent by the Continental Congress in 1774, explaining that one benefit of a free press is that it allows citizens to organize themselves, a process “whereby oppressive officers are shamed or intimidated, into more honourable and just modes of conducting affairs.”

Please come out to the meeting if you have time, then! You can support Hilda Guzman and the other activists who have been pressuring this board to do the right thing and meet some really brave, really wise people. People who are worth knowing. And not one of them is on the damn board of directors. Not yet, anyway…
Continue reading The Accelerated Schools Board Meeting Will Take Place Thursday December 5 At 10 AM — Nightmarish Racist Automaton Juli Quinn — Soon-To-Be-Former President Of The Board Of Directors — Scheduled To Rage-Quit Over Protests — If You Can’t Stand The Heat Get Out Of The Damn Kitchen — As The Cliche Would Have It — But Also If You Can’t Stand The Heat Stop Doing Evil Stuff That Is Sending You Straight To Hell — Just A Parting Thought For Juli Quinn — Quinn’s Welcome Departure Likely To Usher In Amplified Reign Of Racist Terror — With Psychopathic Greed-Head Real Estate Grifter Leonard Rabinowitz Poised To Take Over Presidency — This Is A Guy Who Wants To Eliminate Special Education From His Damn School — And Only Has Not Because They Can’t Afford The Associated Pay Cut — Come Out To The Meeting And Watch History Being Made!

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Ruben Alonzo — Carpetbagging Galaxy-Brained Founder Of Excelencia Charter Academy In Boyle Heights — Co-Located On The Campus Of Sunrise Elementary School — Surveilled, Stalked, And Photographed Anti-Charter Protester Mimi Duncanson — And Tried — Unsuccessfully — To Get The Cops To Tow Her Car — And Pretty Likely Violated The Brown Act To Prevent Her From Learning Of Impending Teacher Firings At Excelencia — And This Is The Kind Of Amoral Grifter The State Of California Entrusts With The Lives Of Small Defenseless Children

Excelencia Charter Academy is yet another creepy little charter school run by yet another shockingly unqualified creepy little galaxy-brained grifter, this one known as Ruben Alonzo, going about the place making creepy little announcements of delusionally impending disruptive excellence while lining his creepy little pockets with public money1 at the expense of the actual human children that the state legislature, for reasons they’re going to have to answer for eventually, has seen fit to place into his care.

In this regard Alonzo is much like Sakshi Jain, shockingly unqualified founder of the ill-fated GANAS Academy, whose plan to co-locate on the campus of Catskill Elementary School conjured up such a monumental hurricane of activist opposition and scorn that, it appears, she has had to put her school’s opening on hold while she slinks back to her lair to soothe her metaphorical wounds with a salve made of equal parts boorish self-pity and Walton family megabucks.

Unlike Jain, though, Alonzo did actually manage to open his school. In the Fall of 2018 as it happens and, like Jain’s fiasco, co-located, in this case on the campus of Sunrise Elementary School in Boyle Heights. And like Jain’s folly Alonzo’s weirdo little project conjured up some opposition, most publicly from Sunrise Elementary teacher Mimi Guzman-Duncanson.

Duncanson famously parked her SUV out in front of the school covered in flyers advertising the appalling lack of qualifications of Excelencia’s teachers, let alone Ruben Alonzo, the self-proclaimed founder. Duncanson’s protest was covered in the Los Angeles Times and by Jason McGahan, writing in The Baffler.

You can see a picture of Maestra Duncanson2 with her minivan somewhere near this sentence.That picture and another like it came from a huge set of emails released to me recently by Alonzo pursuant to the California Public Records Act.3 And if it looks like hostile photography, like surveillance, well, that’s because that’s precisely what it is. It turns out that aggressively callow hellbaby Ruben Alonzo just could not deal with the fact that anyone at all dared to question his galaxy-brained 29 year old self.

These emails reveal that Alonzo hated and feared the truth to such an extent that not only did he stalk and surveill her, take hostile photographs of her, not only did he whine about her to every reporter who’d sit still long enough, but he tried to convince police to tow Duncanson’s protest van, although they refused.

He also arranged for police presence at his school for the first few days of operation because of his hatred and fear of protesters. He almost certainly also violated the Brown Act by emailing information about firing two teachers to his board of directors in advance of the meeting, explicitly stating that he was doing so in order to keep Duncanson from learning it. You can find PDFs of the relevant emails here, and read on for quotes and links!
Continue reading Ruben Alonzo — Carpetbagging Galaxy-Brained Founder Of Excelencia Charter Academy In Boyle Heights — Co-Located On The Campus Of Sunrise Elementary School — Surveilled, Stalked, And Photographed Anti-Charter Protester Mimi Duncanson — And Tried — Unsuccessfully — To Get The Cops To Tow Her Car — And Pretty Likely Violated The Brown Act To Prevent Her From Learning Of Impending Teacher Firings At Excelencia — And This Is The Kind Of Amoral Grifter The State Of California Entrusts With The Lives Of Small Defenseless Children

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New Records From GANAS Academy — Pertaining To A $475K Start Up Grant From The California Department Of Education — Expose Sakshi Jain’s Utter — Complete — Total — Lack Of Ability — Of Imagination — Of Competence — Of Original Thought — And Call Into Question Anybody’s Decision To Put Actual Human Children Into This Woman’s Care For Any Reason Whatsoever — Let Alone Give Her Half A Million Bucks — Oh Also These Records Show That The $850 Per Recruited Student That Jain Famously Paid Came Out Of Public Funds — Which Is Apparently Known To Be A Bad Thing — Because Some Charter In San Diego Is Currently Getting Dragged In The News For Doing The Same Thing — But Only Paying $200 Per Kid

I’m spending some time trying to understand the finances of from-scratch charter school startups authorized by LAUSD. In particular, for a number of reasons, I’m looking closely at GANAS Academy, an amateurish little effort, slated to open in Fall 2019 but which for various reasons did not. I previously learned that the would-be founder, Sakshi Jain, kicked things off with a $325,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation. And very recently I received a number of records that show that she also received a $475,000 grant from the California Department of Education.

It may be that these two amounts aren’t additive, because, according to the award letter, the CDE grant is “reimbursement based.” It’s at least plausible that this means the Walton grant was given to cover expenses that would be reimbursed by the DOE, although I have no proof (yet) either way. I just don’t have enough information to understand exactly how much money total was involved in the abortive debut of GANAS, but it was an awful lot. And I previously showed that Jain paid a recruiter $850 per kid enrolled. One of these records shows that she was paying the guy out of CDE funds.1 I’m not sure if this is legal, but a charter school in San Diego is getting really bad press right now for doing the same thing.2

However, as interesting as it is, tracking what became of the money is not the most interesting information to be gleaned from this set of records, available here on Archive.Org. Neither is the weird and illegal crap she spent it on. That’s to be expected from such a grifter. What’s really interesting is the story of how this callow, this jejune little nobody, Sakshi Jain, with not an original idea in her head, without significant training, no demonstrated ability to do anything, can basically slap together a bunch of idiotic copypasta and be awarded a charter school and around half a million dollars in money from the state. And what’s worse, given actual responsibility for actual human children.

How anyone can look at this woman’s plans and proposals, can see the money everyone’s throwing at her, and still manage to think charter schools could ever be a good idea I will never understand. Sakshi Jain and her backwards, pernicious little project are not some kind of fluke, it’s no accident that she was able to do this. Everything’s working as it’s meant to work for her. This stupid, harmful little school is precisely one of the things that the system is designed to allow.3 Read on for links to the records, descriptions, and even some snide commentary!
Continue reading New Records From GANAS Academy — Pertaining To A $475K Start Up Grant From The California Department Of Education — Expose Sakshi Jain’s Utter — Complete — Total — Lack Of Ability — Of Imagination — Of Competence — Of Original Thought — And Call Into Question Anybody’s Decision To Put Actual Human Children Into This Woman’s Care For Any Reason Whatsoever — Let Alone Give Her Half A Million Bucks — Oh Also These Records Show That The $850 Per Recruited Student That Jain Famously Paid Came Out Of Public Funds — Which Is Apparently Known To Be A Bad Thing — Because Some Charter In San Diego Is Currently Getting Dragged In The News For Doing The Same Thing — But Only Paying $200 Per Kid

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Charter Schools Fought For Years To Reduce The Power Of LAUSD’s Inspector General To Oversee Them — In 2018 Internal Chaos In The Office Of The Inspector General Led To Restructuring Which Effectively Reduced Oversight Of Charters — According To The California Charter School Association “should be seen as a major win by and for the charter community.”

The Los Angeles Unified School District has a particularly powerful oversight office, the Office of the Inspector General, known in the trade jargon as OIG. And in 2018 the School Board failed to renew then-IG Ken Bramlett’s contract. According to LA Times education reporter Howard Blume, pro-charter board members Monica Garcia, Kelly Gonez, and Nick Melvoin voted against renewal, which was enough to deadlock the board and prevent Bramlett’s return. Blume also noted that Bramlett had aggressively investigated some charter schools, in some cases leading to criminal charges being filed, and that charter schools had been clamoring for limits on OIG’s ability to investigate them but he stopped short of saying that Bramlett’s fall from grace was due to charter school influence.

And later a bunch of overwhelmingly salacious details of a number of really appalling and quite serious hostile work environment complaints against some of Bramlett’s senior subordinates came out along with credible accusations that Bramlett had at best failed to take these complaints seriously. Regardless of the validity of the uproar, and it seems quite valid indeed to me, this had the effect of directing most of the media attention away from charter school involvement in Bramlett’s downfall. Not entirely, though. For instance, Kyle Stokes, education reporter with KPCC, did mention that charter schools had been seeking to limit OIG’s role in overseeing them, although in that same article noted that “sources who spoke to KPCC said that concern over charter oversight was not a factor in the board’s thinking”

But newly published internal documents from the Los Angeles Advocacy Council, a shadowy organization run by the California Charter School Association and about 20 local charter school leaders, paint a very different picture. In fact LAAC and the CCSA give themselves credit for taking advantage of the chaos at OIG in order to effectively remove oversight of charter schools from OIG’s purview.

Not only that but they claim to have kept quiet about the issue in order to protect their public image. In the same document they also claim that they were asked to do so by unnamed people in the District who promised CCSA and LAAC that “they would handle it, and they followed through” Given some statements in another document it’s not impossible that convicted felon and then Board member Ref Rodriguez was one of these unnamed people. The charterites were thrilled by the outcome of their work against OIG oversight, announcing that it “should be seen as a major win by and for the charter community.” Perhaps this media strategy underlay Stokes’s sources’ comment about charter involvement in Bramlett’s non-renewal.

And recently we learned from this same set of records that, for instance, LAUSD superintendent Austin Beutner allowed charter school lobbyists to write at least one of his major policy speeches. And that Board member Nick Melvoin leaked information about confidential legal strategies to them and let them write Board resolutions.

Given the magnitude of these revelations it’s pretty plausible that someone in the District was conspiring with CCSA and LAAC to take advantage of chaos in OIG to implement the charters’ desire to be free of meaningful oversight. It’s plausible, but it is in no way acceptable. It’s bad enough to reduce oversight of charter schools, which receive so many millions of dollars in public money. But to reduce it in response to their demands, according to their plan, and to do this in secret while they pretend to the world not to have been involved, is absolutely intolerable. Intolerable but, as I said, given recent events, not surprising. Read on for links to and detailed quotes from relevant documents.
Continue reading Charter Schools Fought For Years To Reduce The Power Of LAUSD’s Inspector General To Oversee Them — In 2018 Internal Chaos In The Office Of The Inspector General Led To Restructuring Which Effectively Reduced Oversight Of Charters — According To The California Charter School Association “should be seen as a major win by and for the charter community.”

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At Least Since February 2018 The California Charter Schools Association And The Los Angeles Advocacy Council Have Been Scheming To Get Jose Cole-Gutierrez — LAUSD’s Chief Charter School Watchdog — Fired — And They Have Been Scheming With Monica Garcia Mostly — And Kelly Gonez And Austin Beutner — And Formerly Ref Rodriguez — They Have Gone So Far As To Compile Lists Of Potential Replacements For Cole-Gutierrez — And Discussed How They Would Like His Replacement To Oversee Their Operations — The Foxes Don’t Want To Guard The Hen House But They Will Be Happy To Hand Pick The Guards — And Garcia Has Actually Advised Them On What Kind Of Evidence The Board Would Need To Have In Order To Move To Fire Him — Which Seems Like An Extraordinarily Unprofessional Way For Elected Officials To Treat Professional Staff

In June I received a massive set of really revelatory emails from Green Dot Charter Schools via the California Public Records Act. There’s a summary of what’s happened since then in this linked post. I have been working on organizing them to publish and at the same time telling stories based on them, and today’s post is another installment in that project.

The California Charter Schools Association sponsors a group of about 20 local charter school leaders, called the Los Angeles Advocacy Council, which meets regularly to plot and plan various pro-charter lobbying activities in LAUSD and a few other districts.1 The LAAC’s workings have hitherto been deeply buried. They don’t issue press releases for the most part, and they’re not really written about very much. As of right now, this blog is the top Google hit for them.

One thing revealed by these emails is that the LAAC is in no sense an egalitarian institution. There are about 20 members, but there is also an inner leadership group, consisting of Cristina de Jesus of Green Dot, Emilio Pack of STEM Preparatory Academy, and a bunch of CCSA flacks.2 This behind-the-scenes cabal shapes the activities of the group through weekly “check-ins,”3 at which they discuss their progress on their most cherished goals, which they call “North Stars”.4

And some of the most revealing records in this set are the leadership’s weekly updates. These are written by CCSA staff and show past progress and future plans for each of the North Stars. These, along with the monthly minutes of the meetings of the full LAAC expose all manner of wrongdoing, weirdness, and supervillainry, and are well worth your time to browse. They’re available on Archive.Org here:

Weekly updates — And lots and lots of other interesting items, too various to describe.
Agendas and minutes

And there are a million stories in those records, of which I can only tell one at a time. Today’s is about LAUSD’s charter school division, CSD in the vernacular. This office, headed by Jose Cole-Gutierrez, is charged with overseeing charter school operations in the district. And the charters don’t like it one bit. They don’t like being overseen, and they don’t like their overseers. And they would like to see Jose Cole Gutierrez fired and replaced with someone they see as more sympathetic to their cause.5

Some degree of antipathy between the overseen and the overseers is to be expected, of course. But CCSA’s antipathy, as exposed in these records, goes far, far beyond a bunch of charterites griping to the choir around some metaphorical cyberspaced water cooler.6 Whatever you as a sane person may think of privatizers, no one ever accused them of lacking initiative or imagination. In fact, CCSA has been trying to get Jose Cole-Gutierrez fired from his position at least since February 2018, using, at a minimum, the following tactics:

★ Surveying charter schools for stories about Cole-Gutierrez’s inconsistencies and putative incompetencies.

★ Meeting with LAUSD board members Ref Rodriguez, Monica Garcia, Kelly Gonez and Superintendent Austin Beutner to discuss how and why to fire Cole-Gutierrez and, egregiously, accepting concrete advice from Garcia about what kind of evidence the Board would need to be able to move forward on firing him.

★ Compiling a list of acceptable candidates to replace Cole-Gutierrez once they’d succeeded in having him fired.

So far Cole-Gutierrez has managed to hang on to his job in the face of this onslaught, but it’s not clear that he’ll be able to indefinitely. It’s possible that the only reason they haven’t been able to move in on him is that with Rodriguez’s ignominious departure they just don’t have the votes to finish the job.

I don’t have evidence that would explain Cole-Gutierrez’s survival, at least not yet. I am seeking it, of course, but the going is quite slow. It may well be years before we learn the rest of this story. And read on for links to documents and transcribed selections that tell this story in all the detail.
Continue reading At Least Since February 2018 The California Charter Schools Association And The Los Angeles Advocacy Council Have Been Scheming To Get Jose Cole-Gutierrez — LAUSD’s Chief Charter School Watchdog — Fired — And They Have Been Scheming With Monica Garcia Mostly — And Kelly Gonez And Austin Beutner — And Formerly Ref Rodriguez — They Have Gone So Far As To Compile Lists Of Potential Replacements For Cole-Gutierrez — And Discussed How They Would Like His Replacement To Oversee Their Operations — The Foxes Don’t Want To Guard The Hen House But They Will Be Happy To Hand Pick The Guards — And Garcia Has Actually Advised Them On What Kind Of Evidence The Board Would Need To Have In Order To Move To Fire Him — Which Seems Like An Extraordinarily Unprofessional Way For Elected Officials To Treat Professional Staff

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