Aug 22 - WHEN IT OPENED IN 2005,
But during the first weeks after
Eleventh-grader Mercedes Carreto, 16, says she learned about the changes in her two AP classes only when she got her midsemester report card. “Like, instead of ‘AP history,’ it said ‘cinema,’ ” says Carreto. “I want to get into a good college and study to be a dentist, which means I need a lot of AP classes, and good scores on the AP exam,” she says. “How am I supposed to do that when he takes our AP classes away for no reason?”
Teachers say they were similarly blind-sided. “I only knew what he’d done when I saw it on the computer one morning as I took attendance,” says AP English teacher Alexandra Avilla.
According to these students, parents and teachers, the problems cropped up about midway through the eight-week summer semester at the school, which students attend during staggered “tracks” because of overcrowding. Carbino didn’t have the right books for several dozen academic classes attended by students whose school year began on July 2. As a solution, says social sciences instructor Jose Lara, Carbino looked through
Worse, in many students’ minds, was Carbino’s decision to convert 12 Advanced Placement classes — university-level courses that help students get into college — after the students had already done nearly four weeks of college-prep work. Advanced Placement English became “writing seminar,” according to students, and AP government became “civil law,” not a college-prep course.
In addition, say students Mercedes Carreto and Marisol Valencia, most of the make-do classes did not fulfill any kind of UC or
Angry students and faculty say Carbino neither consulted nor gave advance notice to students or faculty. When contacted, Carbino “barricaded himself in his office,” says one
Although Carbino isn’t talking,
The settlement created a system of annual inspections in which education officials show up each fall to make sure every student has the right books (plus such educational niceties as enough chairs for all students and working bathrooms). According to a study released earlier this month by the ACLU Foundation of
But not, some teachers say, at
“There’s no reason he shouldn’t have been able to get the textbooks,” says Tori Miles, the local district representative for UTLA who has spent several recent days meeting with angry
Instead, Carbino made the course changes unilaterally, say faculty members, then left teachers and students to deal with the results. “I know one girl who got switched out of the one class she needed to graduate,” says a student who would identify himself only as Brad.
It also meant that teachers who spent weeks preparing course outlines, lesson plans and instructional goals were suddenly expected to teach a course for which they had not prepared. Advanced Placement instructors, who, for each course, must get a detailed syllabus approved by the
One group of students, most of them Advanced Placement kids, decided to talk directly to principal Carbino — and that’s when things really started to go downhill, according to teachers Anthony Marenco and Lara. According to students, after they arrived at his office recently and requested a conference, Carbino would not meet with them and informed them that if they didn’t leave, he’d suspend them or have them arrested.
Other students say that when confronted by parents, Carbino announced that he made the changes because
A cluster of very upset 11th- and 12th-graders approached Marenco, one of the school’s most popular AP teachers, and told him about their encounter with Carbino. Marenco says he assumed the students somehow mishandled the meeting with Carbino, and suggested they view the incident as a learning exercise. On Friday, August 3, Marenco agreed to help the group approach the principal again — using techniques of “persuasive speech” and creative “conflict resolution.”
It didn’t work. According to Marenco and some of the flabbergasted students, Carbino ordered the AP teacher escorted off school grounds by a campus police officer. “I honestly couldn’t believe it,” says the seemingly mild-mannered Marenco. “The officer was really apologetic. He made a point of shaking my hand.”
The Marenco incident became a flash point. “It was the spark for us to organize,” says 16-year-old Carina Palacios, who hopes to get into UC Irvine like her two sisters. “We felt like, this man doesn’t have respect for anybody.”
This isn’t the first time Carbino has had problems at a school. He also worked at
That’s when he arrived at
“But see, the district looks the other way, because all it wants from Carbino is to keep the school out of the headlines,” says Steve Bachrach, once a teacher at Jefferson High School, now principal of Green Dot’s high-scoring Animo Film and Theatre Arts Charter High School. “Every week, I get calls from
UTLA second-in-command Linda Guthrie puts it in harsher terms. With Carbino, says Guthrie, the district simply transferred a problematic principal to a different school — a common practice. As for the switched classes and wrong books, she says flatly, “It’s incompetence. But what makes me the most crazy is how he’s treated students. When kids come to talk to him about their concerns for their classes, instead of rewarding them for acting responsibly, he threatens to punish them? He’s just being a bully.”
Matters further escalated on August 7, when about 50 parents, teachers and students showed up at an unrelated meeting Carbino was holding with a small group of parents in the auditorium. When the group of parents, teachers and students began demanding answers, he radioed for campus police officers and walked out of the building.
Furious, two dozen AP students on August 13 drafted a formal letter requesting Carbino’s resignation, reading it aloud at a school planning meeting that Carbino was expected to attend. Carbino abruptly left the meeting, saying he had a conflicting appointment, when 18 students and some of their parents filed into the room.
Now the school’s teachers say they are also gearing up for action. On August 13, after the student presentation, faculty members stayed to speak privately about the principal, telling stories of a man who, they said, gets his way through threats or withering public criticism. “For instance, if he doesn’t like you, he’ll order regular police searches of your classroom,” alleges teacher Jose Lara.
The school’s English Department chair, Gina Perry, agrees — and then confides in a low voice that she’s reinstating some of the AP classes. “Sometimes you just do what you got to do,” she says. “It’s what the kids need.”
The students too aren’t letting this go. “My parents said maybe they should just get me out of
The teachers go even further. “If the district doesn’t do something about Carbino, we’re looking at the idea of turning this school into a charter,” says Boultinghouse.
▲smf notes: The quality of research that went into this story is suspect at the outset, the
And in muted defense of the reportage I haven't seen much if any response one way or another from LAUSD. Evidence shows that Santee and Carbino is being left to the mercies of the media, left like L. Patrick Gray, the designated sacrificial lamb in Watergate, to "hang slowly, slowly twisting in the wind."
What is interesting is that Charter Schools, once anathema to UTLA and militant teachers – have become a bloody rag to wave in collective bargaining – "If we don't get what we want we'll go charter!"