by Howard Blume – LA Times LA NOW Blog
November 10, 2009 | 7:42 am -- Two L.A. Unified School District leaders plan to hold a news conference this morning with community groups to debunk a Spanish-language flier claiming illegal-immigrant parents who sign a petition calling for a charter school will be deported.
[Updated at 8:45 a.m.: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that the teachers union was holding the news conference.]
The 10 a.m. news conference outside the teachers union headquarters in the Wilshire District is the latest development in ongoing disagreements over a proposal to improve 30 struggling or new campuses, with the school district and its teachers union stalled in crucial negotiations.
[Updated at 8:59 a.m.: A previous version of this post said the disagreement was over control of the schools, but actually involves proposals to improve the campuses.]
Becoming a charter school is one option for the 30 campuses designated for reform plans. Charters are independently managed and frequently nonunion. They often have been criticized by United Teachers Los Angeles, the teachers union, but there is no evidence the union's leadership is responsible for the flier.
Participants in today’s news conference are expected to include school board President Monica Garcia, school board member Yolie Flores Aguilar and representatives of several allied community organizations.
Flores Aguilar authored the resolution that allows groups inside or outside the district to bid for control of new or struggling schools. Garcia is a close ally of L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has supported the Flores Aguilar resolution.
Besides calling attention to the flier, which reportedly circulated in the Pico-Union and Westlake areas west of downtown, the board members also plan to assert that community groups supporting the reform effort have suddenly encountered hostile receptions instigated by teachers on campuses where they were formerly welcome, said Jarad Sanchez, education coordinator of the group Alliance for a Better Community.
The news conference is being held at UTLA headquarters in large measure to pressure the union to sign an agreement allowing for more pilot schools, Sanchez said.
Pilot schools are campuses that have charter-like freedoms under a simplified union contract, but they remain under district control. Pilot schools are another reform option for the 30 targeted campuses.
The teachers union officially supports pilot schools, but some within its leadership have said they want more job protections if the number of pilots increases beyond the 10 it has already agreed to.
The district gave the union a 5 p.m. Monday deadline for signing the pilot-school expansion, but the union did not respond.