Tag Archives: Los Angeles Unified School District

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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Galaxy-Brained GANAS Academy Charterscammer And Founder Sakshi Jain Kicked Off Her Co-Location Conspiracy In August 2018 With $325K From The Walton Family Foundation — And Immediately Commenced To Pay Herself Thirteen Freaking Thousand Dollars A Freaking Month — Probably Including Benefits — Add That To The $63K For Recruitment And Consulting — And The $15K For Lawyers — And It’s No Wonder She Burned Through A Quarter Of A Million Damn Dollars In Just Eleven Freaking Months — And There’s Not Even A Damn School To Show For It — Oh And Also It Was On June 26 2019 That She Informed LAUSD That Her School Would Not Be Opening In 2019 — But Recall That She Didn’t Tell Parents Until July 12 — Stealing More Than Two Weeks From Their Planning Time

I just got a small set of records from everybody’s favorite star-crossed charter school horror show, that is to say GANAS Academy. The set is woefully incomplete, and it’s pretty clear that Sakshi Jain is lying to her lawyer about it yet again, but nevertheless there is some essential material in there, and you can browse through the whole pile of it over here on Archive.Org.

And by far the most important material in here is GANAS Academy’s general ledger in MS Excel format1 along with monthly bank statements through June 2019. The ledger shows every credit and every debit from the inception of the school in August 2018 with very detailed descriptions. The story kicks off with a $325K grant from the Walton Family Foundation, deposited in the California Credit Union on August 11, 2018 as shown on that month’s bank statement and it’s all downhill from there.

In September 2018 she began paying herself $13K per month, as shown in that month’s statement and this continued at least through June 2019, which is the last monthly statement I have.2 But like I said, the real action is found in that ledger. It’s there that we learn that the $325K Jain has been burning through came from the Waltons. That she spent about $63K on recruiting students, which no doubt includes the $850 per kid bounty she paid her recruiter. And last but never least $15K to charter school contract killer law firm Young, Minney, and Corr.3

So that, friends, is the charter school innovation laboratory model. Get a ton of free money from an appalling gang of zillionaires and proceed to burn through it at an astonishing rate. A quarter of a million dollars between August 2018 and June 2019.4 And at the end, you don’t even have a damn school. Although I will say that given the horrific nature of these schools, the world is clearly better off having her spend all that money and not start a school than otherwise.

Oh, and recall that Jain didn’t publicly announce that her school wouldn’t open this Fall until July 12, 2019. I previously proved that she knew as early as July 1 that she wasn’t going to open but didn’t tell the parents of enrolled students, the people who needed to know as soon as possible.5 But evidence from this set of records proves that in fact Jain knew as early as June 26, 2019 that she would not open.

That’s the day that LAUSD received her “Back Out Letter”6 according to this letter to Jain from Jose Cole-Gutierrez, chief boss of LAUSD’s Charter School Division. So that’s an extra four days that Jain cheated the parents out of for purposes of figuring out what they were to do with their children in the Fall. Bad, irresponsible, selfish, but, sadly, not surprising. And read on for a transcription of Cole-Gutierrez’s letter and some screenshots from that ledger in case it’s hard to read on your phone or whatevs!
Continue reading Galaxy-Brained GANAS Academy Charterscammer And Founder Sakshi Jain Kicked Off Her Co-Location Conspiracy In August 2018 With $325K From The Walton Family Foundation — And Immediately Commenced To Pay Herself Thirteen Freaking Thousand Dollars A Freaking Month — Probably Including Benefits — Add That To The $63K For Recruitment And Consulting — And The $15K For Lawyers — And It’s No Wonder She Burned Through A Quarter Of A Million Damn Dollars In Just Eleven Freaking Months — And There’s Not Even A Damn School To Show For It — Oh And Also It Was On June 26 2019 That She Informed LAUSD That Her School Would Not Be Opening In 2019 — But Recall That She Didn’t Tell Parents Until July 12 — Stealing More Than Two Weeks From Their Planning Time

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It Appears That Icky Sticky Nicky Melvoin Revealed Confidential Attorney Client Information From LAUSD’s Office Of The General Counsel To The California Charter School Association In A Secret Meeting In February 2018 — Having To Do With A January 2016 CCSA Lawsuit Against LAUSD Over Prop 39 Access To Facilities — In February 2018 CCSA Met With Melvoin About LAUSD Facilities Policy — At This Meeting Melvoin Told CCSA — The Adverse Parties In The Freaking Lawsuit — That LAUSD’s General Counsel Was “Confident In Lawsuit Position” — And Therefore Was Disinclined To Settle — Two Months Later CCSA Conceded And Dropped The Suit Without A Settlement — Perhaps Their Decision To Pursue This Course Was Informed By Confidential Information Obtained From Melvoin — It’s Hard To Imagine It Could Be Otherwise

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about an episode in January 2018 when the California Charter School Association actually drafted a resolution for then newly elected, then and now bought and paid for, LAUSD board member Icky Sticky Nicky Melvoin,1 to present to his colleagues on the school board. It was and is a complicated story, and I promised at the time to lay it on you in increments.2 That first post was about the CCSA-drafted resolution and how they passed it on to Nicky in January 2018.

Today we’re moving along to February 20, 2018. On that date Nick Melvoin, his senior advisor Allison Holdorff Polhill, and his policy director Danielle Tenner met with Cristina de Jesus of Green Dot Private Schools, Emilio Pack of STEM Preparatory Schools, Caprice Young of the creepiest cultiest charter chain, that is Magnolia Charter Schools, and Cassy Horton, Ebony Wheaton, and Jason Rudolph, all the last three from CCSA, all met to discuss the resolution.3

Also at that time, explained below, CCSA was suing LAUSD. And, amazingly, it seems that in this meeting Melvoin passed on a great deal of privileged information about LAUSD’s legal strategy to the charter advocates. He also agreed to intervene with LAUSD’s lawyers to further CCSA’s interests. This is on its face appalling behavior from an elected official, sworn by oath to faithfully execute the duties of his office, a violation of which oath this behavior pretty clearly is.4 As always, the details are complicated.

We know about this meeting from an email sent the next day, February 21, 2018, by the aforementioned Jason Rudolph to his co-conspirators de Jesus, Pack, Young, Horton, and Wheaton. This email is interesting in itself, and it is reproduced below in full. Much, much, muchmuchmuch more interesting, though, is the attachment to the email, consisting of Rudolph’s notes on the previous day’s meeting.5 This document is endlessly complex. I expect that the next four or five posts in this series will be on this document.6
Continue reading It Appears That Icky Sticky Nicky Melvoin Revealed Confidential Attorney Client Information From LAUSD’s Office Of The General Counsel To The California Charter School Association In A Secret Meeting In February 2018 — Having To Do With A January 2016 CCSA Lawsuit Against LAUSD Over Prop 39 Access To Facilities — In February 2018 CCSA Met With Melvoin About LAUSD Facilities Policy — At This Meeting Melvoin Told CCSA — The Adverse Parties In The Freaking Lawsuit — That LAUSD’s General Counsel Was “Confident In Lawsuit Position” — And Therefore Was Disinclined To Settle — Two Months Later CCSA Conceded And Dropped The Suit Without A Settlement — Perhaps Their Decision To Pursue This Course Was Informed By Confidential Information Obtained From Melvoin — It’s Hard To Imagine It Could Be Otherwise

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In January 2018 — Just Mere Months After Millions Of Dollars In Charter School Money Bought Icky Sticky Nicky Melvoin’s Election To The LAUSD School Board — He Asked The California Charter School Association To Draft A Board Resolution For Him — Outlining Proposal To Study How To Legally Sell Or Lease LAUSD Property To Charters — And To Take LAUSD Facilities Away From Public Schools And Give Them To Charters On The Basis Of “Performance” — And To List All Facilities So The Privatizers Would Know Which To Target — And To Put Prop 39 Co-Location Disputes In The Hands Of A Putatively Neutral Third Party — And To Work Some Incomprehensible Voodoo With Bond Money — And Then Melvoin Proceeded To Have Secret Meetings On The Subject With CCSA Flacks — And Other Privatizing Galaxy Brains — Like Emilio Pack — And Caprice Young — And Mark Kleger-Heine — And Cristina De Jesus — This Post Is Part One Of A Series Because The Whole Thing Is So Darn Complicated

We’ve already seen that LAUSD officials, both elected and appointed, have a sickening penchant for sharing confidential materials with Charter lobbyists, giving them advance input into official policy proposals, and so on. I’ve recently reported, e.g., on an episode from September 2018 where Austin Beutner allowed Cassy Horton and Jed Wallace of the California Charter School Association to vet an upcoming speech and also to talk in advance with his speechwriter to explain what they thought ought to be included. Convicted felon slash former schoolboard member Ref Rodriguez did the same thing in March 2018 with respect to a board proposal.

And it turns out that, beginning in January 2018, LAUSD Board member and charter school bootlicker Icky Sticky Nicky Melvoin1 was involved in a very similar scheme having to do with LAUSD policies on school facilities, a subject which sounds tedious but is actually bureaucratic code for real estate, a subject which is at the very center of the zillionaire plan to loot the public treasure-stores for their own gain.2

Basically the proposal, which seems never to have made it out of the secret meetings, would have called for LAUSD to list all its facilities so that the privatizers could choose which ones to target, to allocate facilities between charter schools and public schools based on excellence and student success rather than on need, to authorize a putatively neutral third party to settle disputes over co-location offers, to study how to sell or lease LAUSD property to charters, and to do something complicated with bonds used to fund facilities. It all seems incredibly shady, shady beyond belief.

Icky Sticky Nicky was elected to the LAUSD Board in May 2017 after having been endorsed by the Los Angeles Times, which delusionally called him an “independent thinker” and also claimed that “Melvoin, who has worked for reform-oriented groups, is decidedly aligned with that movement but in a more balanced way than, say, Monica Garcia.” The LA Times reported on his July 2017 swearing in, and was, by then, after the election was over and the information could no longer sway a single voter, willing to state the relevant facts more explicitly, noting that Melvoin was “elected with the help of millions of dollars from charter school supporters.” The Times also quoted from Melvoin’s speech at the ceremony:

Today is not about the results of an election but about the emergence of a new paradigm.
[I am a product of] the coalition that arose to implore us to lead with a simple yet radical maxim: Put kids first.

And today’s story concerns some ugly truth about Melvoin’s putative more-balanced-than-Monica-Garcia alignment with Charter school zillionaires and about what they bought from him in exchange for their zillions of dollars.3 About how these matters actually played out during his first year in office and, by extension, exactly how he interprets his “simple yet radical maxim: Put kids first.”
Continue reading In January 2018 — Just Mere Months After Millions Of Dollars In Charter School Money Bought Icky Sticky Nicky Melvoin’s Election To The LAUSD School Board — He Asked The California Charter School Association To Draft A Board Resolution For Him — Outlining Proposal To Study How To Legally Sell Or Lease LAUSD Property To Charters — And To Take LAUSD Facilities Away From Public Schools And Give Them To Charters On The Basis Of “Performance” — And To List All Facilities So The Privatizers Would Know Which To Target — And To Put Prop 39 Co-Location Disputes In The Hands Of A Putatively Neutral Third Party — And To Work Some Incomprehensible Voodoo With Bond Money — And Then Melvoin Proceeded To Have Secret Meetings On The Subject With CCSA Flacks — And Other Privatizing Galaxy Brains — Like Emilio Pack — And Caprice Young — And Mark Kleger-Heine — And Cristina De Jesus — This Post Is Part One Of A Series Because The Whole Thing Is So Darn Complicated

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In March 2018 Then-LAUSD-Board-Member Ref Rodriguez Shared A Top Secret Confidential Copy Of A Board Resolution With Cassy Horton Of The California Charter School Association — Before Anyone Other Than Richard Vladovic Had Seen It — And Cassy Horton Of CCSA Inserted Comments And Rewrote Language — And Arranged For Marcia Aaron of KIPP LA — And Parker Hudnut Of ICEF Charter Schools — To Meet In Her Company With Rodriguez And Aixle Aman Prior To Its Introduction To The Board To Discuss It — And Shared It With Christina De Jesus Of Green Dot Charter Schools — And Emilio Pack Of STEM Prep — For Their Comments — And Rewrites

Remember how in September 2018 universally-reviled-by-sane-people LAUSD superintendent Austin Beutner gave an advance copy of a major policy speech to the California Charter School Association for their comments, and even organized a conference call between Jed Wallace, then supreme commander of the CCSA, and Beutner’s speechwriter Shira Fine so that Wallace could pass along pro-charter propaganda to Fine for inclusion?

And then, when it got tweeted about, reprehensible CCSA shill Cassy Horton responded with a particularly mendacious claim that this kind of thing was just business as usual and everyone does it?1 Well, today’s story, about Horton getting top secret information from Ref Rodriguez in March 2018, may tend to support her claim that it’s just business as usual. But I still haven’t seen any evidence that anyone other than CCSA flacks is getting advance information out of LAUSD officials.

Before he was investigated by the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, before he resigned in what passes for disgrace in municipal politics, before he pled guilty to a felony and assorted misdemeanors, before all that nonsense, former school board member Ref Rodriguez was famous for being the handpicked stooge of the CCSA. And, like his asshole buddy Austin Beutner after him, it turns out that Ref Rodriguez also secretly shared major policy documents, including at least one LAUSD board resolution, with CCSA flacks for them to revise to better reflect their interests.

The story begins with this email from Cassy Horton to four of the very creepiest of creepy charter creeps, which is to say Marcia Aaron of KIPP LA, Emilio Pack of STEM Preparatory, Christina De Jesus of Green Dot, and Parker Hudnut of Inner City Education Foundation Charter Schools.

Its subject alone tells quite a story: “<DO NOT SHARE OR FORWARD> Authorizing Resolution for Review and Feedback”. But the whole thing is essential reading. What’s at stake in the resolution is how charters should be authorized by LAUSD, how their performance should be evaluated, and so on. Not, sane folks might think, something which ought to be written by the very industry it’s meant to regulate. Evidently Ref Rodriguez disagreed. Here’s a transcription of the email:
Continue reading In March 2018 Then-LAUSD-Board-Member Ref Rodriguez Shared A Top Secret Confidential Copy Of A Board Resolution With Cassy Horton Of The California Charter School Association — Before Anyone Other Than Richard Vladovic Had Seen It — And Cassy Horton Of CCSA Inserted Comments And Rewrote Language — And Arranged For Marcia Aaron of KIPP LA — And Parker Hudnut Of ICEF Charter Schools — To Meet In Her Company With Rodriguez And Aixle Aman Prior To Its Introduction To The Board To Discuss It — And Shared It With Christina De Jesus Of Green Dot Charter Schools — And Emilio Pack Of STEM Prep — For Their Comments — And Rewrites

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Green Dot Charter Schools CEO Cristina De Jesus Served On Gavin Newsom’s State Charter School Task Force Earlier This Year — According To Tony Thurmond The Point Was To Identify “what is truly best for kids” — But De Jesus Told Her Colleagues That Her “Representation On The Task Force” Gave Green Dot “The Ultimate Voice” — And She Used Her Knowledge Of Task Force Meetings To Shape Green Dot PR Messaging On Charter School Controversies — None Of Which Sounds Like Thinking About What’s Best For Anyone Other Than Green Dot — Oh And Also It Seems That In Early 2018 De Jesus And The California Charter School Association Were Just Sitting Around Waiting For Michelle King To Die — So They Could Start Manipulating The Choice Of Her Replacement — Which As We Now Know They Ultimately Managed Really Well — At Least From Their Infernal Point Of View — And Making Insensitive Remarks While They Waited — Which Is Not A Good Look For A Bunch Of Privatizing Vultures — Especially Given How Their Hand-Picked Dude Is Working Out

Earlier this year Governor Gavin Newsom asked State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond to convene an expert task force to study some aspects of charter schools in California and to issue a report by July 1, which task they duly completed. Here’s what Tony Thurmond had to say about what all these experts were going to get up to:

I am excited that we have this incredible assembly of experts from all sectors to help lead this charge, to take a deeper look at the impact of charter schools. We plan to research data and facts, and will review the fiscal impact and authorization process of charter schools. But more importantly, we are going to do this with thoughtful intention and through the lens of identifying what is truly best for kids.

And one of the putative experts appointed thereto was Cristina De Jesus, mostly famous for being the supreme commander of behemothic privatizing charter school organization Green Dot California. And even though Tony Thurmond thought the task forceers were going to think about the kids, well, as might be expected by the cynical,1 it turns out that, as shown in some emails I recently obtained via the California Public Records Act, De Jesus had very, very different ideas about her role on this expert body.2

The story begins on March 27, 2019, when Anna Phillips published a story in the Los Angeles Times, privatizers-into-a-tizzy-throwingly entitled How a couple worked charter school regulations to make millions. And into a tizzy indeed were thrown the privatizers, especially their ministers of truth.3 Thus did Green Dot commo-king Sean Thibault write an email to his Supreme Commander CDJ,4 proposing a response, perhaps to be submitted as a letter to the editor, which Thibault refers to as an LTE because of course he does.

This proposed LTE is incredibly worth reading for its crackpot accusation that “ideological charter critics” essentially caused Clark and Jeanette Parker to steal all that money from Today’s Fresh Start Charter School because they “have focused their legislative proposals on areas that already have healthy public scrutiny” rather than what, according to Sean Thibault, they ought to have been doing, which is “partnering to update charter laws and regulations to help catch bad apples.” But what we’re really interested in here is Thibault’s summing-uppery, directed at his boss CDJ:
Continue reading Green Dot Charter Schools CEO Cristina De Jesus Served On Gavin Newsom’s State Charter School Task Force Earlier This Year — According To Tony Thurmond The Point Was To Identify “what is truly best for kids” — But De Jesus Told Her Colleagues That Her “Representation On The Task Force” Gave Green Dot “The Ultimate Voice” — And She Used Her Knowledge Of Task Force Meetings To Shape Green Dot PR Messaging On Charter School Controversies — None Of Which Sounds Like Thinking About What’s Best For Anyone Other Than Green Dot — Oh And Also It Seems That In Early 2018 De Jesus And The California Charter School Association Were Just Sitting Around Waiting For Michelle King To Die — So They Could Start Manipulating The Choice Of Her Replacement — Which As We Now Know They Ultimately Managed Really Well — At Least From Their Infernal Point Of View — And Making Insensitive Remarks While They Waited — Which Is Not A Good Look For A Bunch Of Privatizing Vultures — Especially Given How Their Hand-Picked Dude Is Working Out

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On September 13, 2018 Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner Gave A Major Policy Speech — The Week Before That Beutner Staffers Rebecca Kockler And Elmer Roldan Met Separately With Lobbyist Cassy Horton Of The California Charter Schools Association To Vet His Proposals With Her — I Have A Copy Of Horton’s Extensive Notes On These Two Meetings! — On September 7 Beutner Met With Christina De Jesus Of Green Dot And Emilio Pack Of STEM Prep For The Same Purpose — And On September 12 Cassy Horton Had An Advance Copy Of Beutner’s Speech And Shared It With Those Two For Feedback — Ironically In The Speech Beutner Touted The Importance Of Transparency — But Didn’t Mention Word One About All This Back Channel Commo With Elite Privatizers About The Very Speech In Which He Was Touting Transparency!

A little history and a list of the dramatis personae are in order before we begin. In May 2018 noted zillionaire Austin Beutner was appointed superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District via a shady, probably illegal, backroom process pushed through by noted charter-lovers Monica Rodriguez and later-indicted-and-convicted criminal Ref Rodriguez.1 Subsequently Beutner hired Broad Foundation alumna Rebecca Kockler away from the already-pretty-wrecked state of Louisiana where she was famous for privatizing everything in her reach and thereby wrecking everything even more as his chief of staff2 and some dude named Elmer Roldan as his director of civic engagement.

Then there’s the shady charter school lobbying conspiracy known as the California Charter Schools Association, sitting like a fat green spider at the center of the various ickety-stickety webs of privatization spritzed all over our fair city by behind-the-scenes zillionaires. These privatizing peddlers of metaphorical poisoned apples are not just lobbyists, but also actively gather what passes for intelligence in privatizerlandia and spread it around among their members. They’re probably reading this very blog post. Their local capo is Cassy Horton.

And one of the CCSA’s creepiest little Southern California projects is something called the Los Angeles Advocacy Council, a shadowy website-lacking group of twenty-ish super-elite local charter leaders who convene regularly to discuss how to privatize everything they can lay their greedy paws on, to meet with politicians, propose policy, and so on.3 And among these elite privatizers there is an even eliter bunch, the so-called LAAC Leadership. This hyper-exclusive crew consists of Green Dot Charter Schools CEO Christina De Jesus and STEM Preparatory School boss Emilio Pack, facilitated by Cassy Horton.

And it came to pass that after Beutner had been on the job for a few months, in September 2018, he decided that he wanted to give a major policy speech, explaining just what the hell he planned to get up to way high up on the zillionth floor of the Bastille on Beaudry.4 And how does a galaxy-brain like Beutner prepare for such an event? Well, perhaps he thinks about things, reads up on things, talks about things with his senior staff, goes out in the field and looks at things.

And maybe Beutner did all of that and more. But he also had two of his senior staff, the aforementioned Kockler and Roldan, meet with Cassy Horton to run all his proposals by her. And the next day he met with LAAC elites Christina De Jesus and Emilio Pack. We know about this first meeting from an email which Horton sent to De Jesus and Pack, ensubjected “<Confidential/For Review> Preview of Austin Convo for Tomorrow” describing in astounding detail both the content and her thoughts on these two meetings with Beutner’s staffies.
Continue reading On September 13, 2018 Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner Gave A Major Policy Speech — The Week Before That Beutner Staffers Rebecca Kockler And Elmer Roldan Met Separately With Lobbyist Cassy Horton Of The California Charter Schools Association To Vet His Proposals With Her — I Have A Copy Of Horton’s Extensive Notes On These Two Meetings! — On September 7 Beutner Met With Christina De Jesus Of Green Dot And Emilio Pack Of STEM Prep For The Same Purpose — And On September 12 Cassy Horton Had An Advance Copy Of Beutner’s Speech And Shared It With Those Two For Feedback — Ironically In The Speech Beutner Touted The Importance Of Transparency — But Didn’t Mention Word One About All This Back Channel Commo With Elite Privatizers About The Very Speech In Which He Was Touting Transparency!

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In January 2019 Larchmont Charter School Supreme Commander Amy Dresser Held Wrote To LAUSD Board Member Icky Sticky Nicky Melvoin — And A Bunch Of His Most Seniorest Staffies — Allison Polhill Holdorff — Sarah Angel — Clayton Rosa — Expressing Solidarity In What She Called “Some Crazy Crazy Times” — The Craziness Being Anti-Charter Sentiment — And She Was All Like Do Not Be Bullied — She Actually Said Bullied — Which Demonstrates Her Utterly Characteristic Contempt For Democracy By The Way — Into Passing A Cap On LAUSD Charter Schools — It Is — Says Amy Dresser Held — “The First Step In Killing Charters” — So Even The Enemy Knows This Strategy Will Work! — And Nicky Wrote Back And Was All Like — Mmmm! You Are Right! Thank you Amy!! — Note That He Actually Did Use Two Exclamation Points!! — Cause That Is The Depth Of His Gratitude Towards Amy Dresser Held!!!

So you probably remember that one of the welcome outcomes of the courageous and world-shaking January 2019 strike against the Los Angeles Unified School District by the United Teachers of Los Angeles was a resolution to be considered by the school board on freezing the approval of new charter schools in Los angeles. This was considered and passed by the board on January 29, 2019, with pro-charter board member icky sticky Nicky Melvoin casting the lone vote against.1 This resolution, not really binding on anyone, is of course but one step in a journey whose ultimate goal is the elimination of charter schools in California.

And you may also recall that recently I obtained a huge, huge set of emails from the thermonuclearesque privatizers at the Larchmont Charter School.2 I used these the other day to write about how Amy Dresser Held, supreme Larchmontane shot-caller, used her publicly funded power and position to hook up some kid she knows privately with an internship with LAUSD in the sticky one’s office.

And today’s story has to do with an email that Held sent to Melvoin in the quasi-early morning of January 29, right before the fatal board meeting, expressing solidarity with whoever and saying a lot of fairly kooky stuff about how she was thinking of Nicky and these were crazy times and thanks Nicky for caring about kids and don’t be bullied into voting for this charter cap crap because to zillionaires political pressure to do what they don’t want equals bullying.

Most importantly, Held states in a remarkably self-contradictory sentence that a charter cap is “the first step in killing charters and there’s no good argument for it.” She is right, of course, that this is the first step in killing charters. Somehow3 she misses the point that this very fact is the good argument for it. And because of that tired nonsense about bread, butter, sides, and so on,4 El Ick-Stick got right back to Held with this little email here. Took him a mere 17 minutes to send this response.5 And he was really feeling it, yes indeed, thanked her profusely!

And because why waste a good email she didn’t just send this email to Nick M. but also to a bunch of his senior staffies, with a slightly different subject line and other minor mods. But their response was much more muted, and I won’t speculate on why that might be.6 Read on, friends, for transcriptions of the Held/Melvoin part of this exchange!
Continue reading In January 2019 Larchmont Charter School Supreme Commander Amy Dresser Held Wrote To LAUSD Board Member Icky Sticky Nicky Melvoin — And A Bunch Of His Most Seniorest Staffies — Allison Polhill Holdorff — Sarah Angel — Clayton Rosa — Expressing Solidarity In What She Called “Some Crazy Crazy Times” — The Craziness Being Anti-Charter Sentiment — And She Was All Like Do Not Be Bullied — She Actually Said Bullied — Which Demonstrates Her Utterly Characteristic Contempt For Democracy By The Way — Into Passing A Cap On LAUSD Charter Schools — It Is — Says Amy Dresser Held — “The First Step In Killing Charters” — So Even The Enemy Knows This Strategy Will Work! — And Nicky Wrote Back And Was All Like — Mmmm! You Are Right! Thank you Amy!! — Note That He Actually Did Use Two Exclamation Points!! — Cause That Is The Depth Of His Gratitude Towards Amy Dresser Held!!!

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