By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer | LA Daily News
7/14/2010 -- A dispute between Los Angeles Unified and the teacher's union could delay the fall opening of two small schools, including one at San Fernando Middle School.
Groups of teachers at San Fernando Middle School and Lincoln High School in Los Angeles won the rights earlier this year to run small pilot schools, which operate with fewer restrictions and under more flexible union contracts than traditional campuses.
Both pilot schools are expected to open Sept. 13.
United Teachers Los Angeles leaders believe their agreement with the school district to allow pilot schools was violated because the alternative schools were approved without taking a full vote of all teachers at the schools.
Earlier this month, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge asked LAUSD officials to explain at a July 29 hearing why the district thinks a vote was not required.
Under the UTLA and LAUSD agreement, 67 percent of the teachers at a school considering converting to a pilot - or starting a pilot within a school - must approve the change. The union's pilot steering committee must also approve.
"We are asking LAUSD to keep their agreement to hold and respect the outcome of a vote by teachers," said UTLA president A.J. Duffy.
"School reform will not be successful unless teachers are on board."
However, LAUSD officials said they do not believe the district violated its agreement with the union.
LAUSD's general counsel David Holmquist said the district believed it did not need teacher votes because these pilot schools were essentially new schools.
Holmquist also said he felt it was unfortunate that the union was taking this action so close to the start of the school year.
"We are trying to be collaborative ... but they are not being cooperative," Holmquist said.
●●smf’s 2¢ : It’s interesting that this didn’t come up at Tuesday’s board meeting where Duffy, Cortines and the Board were remarkably buoyant+collaborative about pilot schools and school-driven models of reform. Monica let Duffy speak without a number – and he introduced himself as “Mayor Antonio Villiaraigosa”.
Attorney Holmquist’s determination that these are “essentially new schools” must come from some law dictionary parsing of “essentially”.
They are, in actuality, old schools.
- The SFMS website says “It is the oldest school in the San Fernando Valley and the second oldest school in the entire city of Los Angeles.”
- The LHS site says the school opened in 1878.
“Cooperation” is something LAUSD really isn’t all that good at – an apollonian ideal (‘someday we’ll get there”) like, say: 100% graduation.. And I often feel that “Collaboration…” is thought of with “…with the enemy” being understood and unspoken.