May 15, 2008
Re: LAUSD Hides Their True Face! They Continue To Bob And Weave To Avoid Responsibility.
Dear Assignment Desk Editors:
The Los Angeles Unified School District is experiencing yet another critical situation. But this time it has gone too far! Parents want to speak to the truth of the matter so the public is no longer confused about the manner in which they operate.
LAUSD parents are outraged at recent action taken by LAUSD top officials. They are holding two (2) key administrators responsible for the alleged deviant behavior of another employee. Specifically, this matter is related to the already reported news story regarding Stephen T. Rooney, Assistant Principal of Markham Middle School. Mr. Rooney has been charged with engaging in sexual relations with minor children, etc. Local District administrators are being blamed for that which is the sole responsibility of the Personnel Department --- employee clearance and assignment. The Personnel Department provides clearance of employees before they are assigned to available positions within the District. However, 2 high ranking administrators who are as committed to providing quality education to students as they are to providing safety to them have been pulled from their duties and responsibilities as a punitive measure --- because someone has to take the fall for this man’s actions --- someone’s head must roll so that we may escape both accountability. To pull these administrators from their duties is similar to committing genocide against our children. Our chief administrators of our Local District were making strides toward increased student achievement. Chief Operations Officer, Ramon Cortines, should have thought about this more carefully before coming into his new position and acting as though he would save the world but would first start by cleaning the house (so to speak). He has acted in haste and caused emotional distress for many.
Parents are outraged at the Board of Education for not accepting their responsibility in the matter. With a quick glance at their Organizational Chart, responsibility for employee actions first rest with the Board Members followed by the Superintendent of Schools, David L. Brewer, III. From the Superintendent of Schools there is the Chief Operating Officer and you travel down the ladder from there. These high ranking officials are to ensure a quality education as well as safety for our children. They have failed miserably at both. They are blaming our Local District leaders for their lack of follow-through and incompetence. Parents will no longer stand for it.
The Superintendent of Schools, David L. Brewer, III must also take responsibility for this mess as well. He does not even admit to being knowledgeable about the situation stating that he’s not certain whether he received notification of pertinent facts regarding this matter. It has been reported that he claims to have a mountain of paperwork on his desk. Nonsense! He has a full-time secretary who opens, deciphers and prioritizes his mail. It is his responsibility to review every single sheet on his desk. Both the Board Members and Superintendent Brewer are blame-shifting their responsibility and refusing to admit what is possibly unintentional negligence. They refuse to accept blame for what has occurred and choose to hide behind our hard-working and dedicated Local District Administrators. Their actions are cowardly and shameful. Parents want them to stop bobbing and weaving the truth.
Parents would like to publicly address this issue in a press conference tomorrow morning, Friday, May 16, 2008 at 10:00 am. We will meet in the front of our school home, LAUSD Local District 7 Office, 10600 South Western Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90047. We are praying that you will attend to televise the event.
I have attached a couple of parent letters in support of our Local District administrators as well as a statement from LAUSD’s Chief Operation Officer, Ramon Cortines regarding the matter.
We are requesting our Local District administrators be cleared of all allegations. There has obviously been a miscarriage of justice and an abuse of authority in this regard! We are truly in a state of emergency when politics and money becomes the driving force in education! Please help us spread the word of truth so that our children are protected.
Please feel free to contact me for more information. Thank you for your consideration.
[address & phone # removed for publication]
May 11, 2008
Board Of Education
Los Angeles Unified School District
333 South Beaudry Avenue, 24th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90017
By Facsimile Transmission to (213) 241-8953
By Email Transmission to All Board Members
Re: Letter in Support of Carol M. Truscott, Local District 7 Superintendent
Dear Members of the Board of Education:
I submit this letter to you in support of my Local District Superintendent, Carol M. Truscott, who has recently been accused of taking improper action in regards to the horrid misconduct of one of your employees. I respectfully request careful consideration of this letter as well as any other letters, telephone calls or emails which are sure to be on their way to your offices, before taking any action which may be in haste and unwarranted.
As a parent within the Los Angeles Unified School District, I am certainly not privy to all details concerning the matter of Stephen T. Rooney, former Assistant Principal of Markham Middle School. Having worked in corporate America, I understand all information is not public information. However, that which I do understand about this situation and feel deep to my core concern me in a way that I am compelled to speak against it.
Let me first begin by stating what I know about Carol Truscott. In addition to her expertise as an educator with over 30 years of experience, she has been:
- Dedicated To Educating Our Children;
- Committed To Providing High Quality Education For All Students;
- Supportive And Loyal To Parents As Well As The Community;
- Steadfast In Her Efforts To Steer Education Toward Positive Change.
I also know Mrs. Truscott to be an approachable person who is as transparent as she is able to be in her position as Local District Superintendent. With each and every challenge we face in Local District 7, her unwavering focus for high quality instructional delivery to students is admirable and constant. Certainly, our educational arena has been plagued with issues that existed prior to Mrs. Truscott becoming the Superintendent of Local District 7 such as hard-to-staff schools and “must place” teachers and administrators. These diversions aim to retract the focus of providing high quality education to students; but the one thing I know about Mrs. Truscott is that she is a true operations person who is committed as much to her duties as she is to the students of this District. I state unequivocally that any action taken or not taken on behalf of this District has been done under the direction of other District officials who were directly responsible for making such decision(s). Being an operations person, Mrs. Truscott’s professional nature is one that follows strict protocol, adherence to proper lines of communication and procedural guidelines as set forth by her employer, Los Angeles Unified School District. I do not believe Mrs. Truscott would ever take any action without first checking with District department heads who are responsible for providing the guidance, assistance and support that is assumed to be true and correct. Moreover, a prudent person would reasonably believe District department heads hold a fiduciary obligation to govern their employees and at the same time provide education and safety to students. In meeting their obligations, they are entrusted to provide only the best administrators, teachers and staff to support students. Therefore, it would follow that each and every employee should be appropriately placed but only after submission to a comprehensive background investigation. Many believe Local District 7 gets dumped on with regards to assigning teachers, administrators and staff to available positions. Resources exist to improve conditions but delivery of these resources is unfairly selective to students who are not in the most need. This leads me to my next point of contention.
I am frustrated with senior District personnel including our Superintendent of Schools, David L. Brewer, III for not taking responsibility for the creation of this muddle. I am likewise disappointed that these same senior District personnel have refused to properly address and take any and all necessary action with regard to this matter. The District has repeatedly requested ownership of responsibility from students and parents but one lingering question that permeates with parents is “Where is the accountability for District personnel?” It is situations like this that are sure to heighten the level of distrust parents have for District administrators as well as Board Members. I plead with you to take a firm stand and do the right thing this time by holding harmless Mrs. Truscott and Mr. Scott Braxton, former Director of Schools. If we are to come to a “meeting of the minds” it would behoove the District to practice what they preach. With everything being said about this incident as well as what I have read, the District is blame-shifting its responsibility. This is both a shameful and cowardly act. It saddens me to know that instead of admitting to unintentional negligence a senior District employee such as Mrs. Truscott has become a scapegoat who has faced public humiliation and been placed on a “time out” at the Central District office. Mrs. Truscott has committed her life to educating students and during her tenure in education she has gained the respect of her colleagues, parents and the community. I would think that she and Mr. Braxton deserve to be treated justly. I appeal to your sense of decency and ask that you take just a moment to consider that it could be you who is wrongly accused. How would you want to be treated? As an employer, you may be responsible for invoking authority to an employee and then revoking it but the one thing that most certainly belongs to Mrs. Truscott is her integrity--- that is, integrity that could never be stripped from her even in the midst of this horrible situation.
From a more personal aspect, it makes no sense at all for Mrs. Truscott to forgo her professional career for any acts of impropriety, especially for someone who has allegedly committed harmful acts toward minor children. Think about it! She is definitely not going to implement any action under these circumstances without receiving the appropriate clearance to do so from her “higher ups” who are responsible for authorizing a particular course of action.
Now, let’s get to District hierarchy. I have reviewed the District chain of command as set forth in the District’s Organizational Chart for the year 2007 – 2008 and dated 4-4-2008. [* - see endnotes] At the head of the helm lists the Board of Education followed by the Superintendent of Schools which is trailed by the Senior Deputy Superintendent. Subordinate to these positions are various department administrators including local district superintendents. Please be mindful and give importance to the fact that each of these subordinates has an area of expertise they are assumed to possess. Now, when I consider who may be responsible for taking improper action(s) in regards to this matter the responsibility ultimately falls upon the Board of Education who are followed, on second, by the Superintendent of Schools. Neither seems to be willing to acknowledge their contribution toward this fiasco.
When an even more telling tale of job descriptions come into play, one will discover that it is not Mrs. Truscott at all who is responsible for any wrongdoing. And, even more interesting is the Inter-Office Correspondence from Dan Isaacs, former Chief Operating Officer, which is dated February 8, 2007. [* - see endnotes] This memo informs both the Members of the Board as well as Superintendent Brewer that one of their assistant principals was arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) with 3 district employees serving as witnesses. The memo states, the charges were assault with a deadly weapon. It is also mentioned that the LAPD were also investigating allegations of improper sexual conduct with a minor. The memo states that the suspect would be assigned to a non-school site pending the results of the assault with a deadly weapon charge only. What about the serious allegations of improper sexual conduct with a minor? Mr. Isaacs’ memo only states the suspect may face a compulsory leave from the District should additional charges be filed. So, this now retired, senior District official, through his own words, admits that the District would only be concerned about these additional allegations only if charges are filed, otherwise they would choose to overlook the matter. I believe this is negligent in and of itself. Is it not District policy to conduct internal investigations for acts of impropriety? Finally, in regards to this memo, Mrs. Truscott is copied only as an after-thought. In the midst of this confusion surrounding a Local District 7 employee, she was the very last administrator to be copied. Anyone who has worked as an administrative assistant, secretary or another related position knows that one usually lists the persons copied in order of priority-to-know. Apparently, Mrs. Truscott was not considered to be a person of priority to this matter albeit the matter concerned an administrator who worked within the boundaries of the local district she governed. This leads me to believe that it is highly probable Mrs. Truscott was intentionally kept out-of-the-loop regarding certain pertinent facts to this matter. However, this would not be the first time that I have noticed this behavior and discourteous treatment.
Briefly, I am reminded of the Green Dot takeover of Locke High School. It appeared decisions were made about one of the schools in Local District 7 without the full inclusion of Mrs. Truscott in the discussions which led to the decision. It appeared Mrs. Truscott was disrespected, disregarded and steam-rolled all at the same time. Needless to say many parents and District staff were left disappointed and angry. Taking all happenings into consideration, one might wonder whether the District has previously made clandestine plans to dismiss Mrs. Truscott prior to this incident and have conveniently decided to capitalize on the issue involving Mr. Rooney to do this. While many persons will not admit it, it has become common knowledge that it is desired by some administrators and parents to secure a person of Hispanic origin into the position of Local District Superintendent as well as other teaching and administrative positions. It is felt by some that as the majority of our students within this local district are of Hispanic origin that it may be more responsive to their needs to have someone of a similar culture in this as well as other positions. I hang my head in shame to think the District would not consider the true qualifications of an applicant rather than their race to fill any position available within the District. It is extremely unfair to Mrs. Truscott and Mr. Braxton to have their careers in ruin to appease any particular group of people.
I have read comments made by our Superintendent of Schools, David L. Brewer, III. He claims he may or may not have received Dan Isaacs’ Inter-Correspondence dated February 8, 2007 [* - see endnotes] as he has mountains of paperwork on his desk. I am certain Superintendent Brewer has a full-time secretary who is responsible for opening, deciphering and prioritizing his mail deliveries. It is his responsibility to review every item that comes across his desk and take the appropriate action needed. But, even if he did not see or receive the memo, Mr. Isaacs certainly had knowledge of the situation and he, at least, should have followed up on the matter and left behind copious notes regarding the matter upon his retirement from the District. He was the Chief Operating Officer. Simply because you inform others of a situation does not release you from the responsibility of the matter. Additionally, once the LAPD informed Mr. Isaacs, a top District official, of the situation it would be considered that the District, as a whole, received notice of the situation. What occurred subsequent to Mr. Isaacs acquiring knowledge is anyone’s guess. Everyone needs to stop hiding behind lame excuses and accept the consequences of their actions or lack thereof. Let’s not have the District stifled yet again by distractions that keep you from doing the real work --- educating students.
I also consider the role of the employee union with regard to this matter. It is a common perception the union protects employees even when they are accused and perhaps found guilty of acts of impropriety. How is it allowable not to be able to terminate employee relationships that deserve to come to a conclusion? These employees are retained by the District and tolerated. They continue working around our children while possibly continuing the same deviant behavior which caused them to previously receive disciplinary action. More specifically, when Mr. Rooney was first accused of misconduct in the year 2007 and placed at a non-school site he most probably consulted with his union representative and perhaps an attorney. I would think that either one of these representatives would have contacted the Central District Office in an attempt to defend him. As such, the District would have received notice of the situation on yet another occasion(s). So, comments and statements by District officials indicating lack of knowledge could not be true.
I take issue with District Statement #07/08-328 dated May 6, 2008 from Ramon Cortines, Senior Deputy Superintendent. [* - see endnotes] The statement begins by placing blame on someone other than those directly responsible for providing employee clearance prior to making assignments --- Personnel. Similarly, the District heads are not indicated as having any responsibility for the matter. In the first paragraph, it is stated that it is clear what “missteps” occurred. These alleged “missteps” obviously led to the removal of two (2) key administrators from Local District 7, Carol Truscott and Scott Braxton. Mr. Cortines states that although information regarding sexual allegations was disclosed, the memo issued by Dan Isaacs failed to detail in full the information passed on to him. Again, there should have been copious notes maintained by Mr. Isaacs and passed along before he retired. He should have followed the matter from the inception of his involvement until the day he retired. Who was the ball passed to upon his retirement? I suggest it was probably fumbled. The Statement admits that all pertinent personnel were not copied on the memo. As such, how can Carol Truscott be held responsible? The Statement goes on to place blame on the LAPD and others for not mentioning the sexual allegations once they informed Employee Relations of the matter. I reiterate, your Chief Operating Officer received notice of the circumstances regarding the matter and communicated and copied the memo to those he deemed appropriate. Please stop looking for others to accuse. All the information you need in regards to the person(s) responsible is directly in front of your faces and I’m certain you know it.
This memo goes on to state Local District personnel was responsible for Mr. Rooney. No. The Central District including Board Members is ultimately responsible for employees. Please revisit your Organizational Chart. Also, Personnel has the responsibility of providing clearance for employees to work within the District. The Statement claims the Local District personnel did not conduct its own internal investigation of the matter. If this is true, I wonder whether a policy or procedure is written for Local District Superintendents or in some way clearly defined for them. Have other Local District Superintendents conducted a comprehensive internal investigation when acts of misconducts occur in their local districts? Is this requirement clearly outlined somewhere? I may have overlooked it but I do not see it listed in the job description for Local District Superintendents. Perhaps it falls under the catch-all function of “other duties as assigned.” Now, that’s ambiguous. I will state again that it would be unlike Mrs. Truscott to take action without being given a directive to do so in a matter such as this. Finally, the memo attempts to distract you even further into the cyclone of information – fact or fiction, by prompting you to gaze into a myriad of diagrams and charts.
This Statement contains a clear admission that the District process needed “correcting.” So if the process was flawed to begin with how is it that Mr. Cortines is allowed to pull administrators from their duties and hold them responsible for an already defective process. This is completely surreal. The Statement then outlines the current steps taken to avoid such incidents in the future. However, these are efforts that should have already been taking place and clearly outlined in District policy and procedure; and perhaps have already been established as District policy and procedure. I scoff when I think the District has often been caught in a mode of regurgitating that which already exists and placing a new name on it. Again, who develops District policy and procedure? I am left flabbergasted when reading the last 2 paragraphs of the Statement. The revised process includes measures to improve communication, decision-making and accountability for superintendents (does this include the Superintendent of Schools), principals and other District managers. Unless the Board of Education has immunity, what about the accountability for board members? The same rules should apply for anyone responsible for engaging or interacting with our children.
I respectfully request careful consideration of all things stated herein and a decision to hold Carol Truscott and Scott Braxton harmless from any wrongdoing. The absence of Mrs. Truscott from our Local District has hurt personnel, parents and most importantly our students. I pray for a resolution to this matter that is equitable. Mrs. Truscott nor Mr. Braxton deserves the sort of treatment and public humiliation that they have received. They each deserve full pardons and public apologies. They also deserve the option of returning to the assignments held prior to this incident. I again appeal to your sense of decency and empathy and remind you that it could be any one of you in a similar situation. We all know that what may appear to be is not often the case. Please do not FEAR doing the right thing. Afterall, FEAR is nothing but False Evidence Appearing Real.
I thank you for your attention and consideration to this matter.
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