By Gloria Angelina Castillo, EGP Staff Reporter | Eastside Sun / Northeast Sun / Mexican American Sun / Bell Gardens Sun / City Terrace Comet / Commerce Comet / Montebello Comet / Monterey Park Comet / ELA Brooklyn Belvedere Comet / Wyvernwood Chronicle / Vernon Sun
12 Aug 2010 - Students and staff of the Leadership in Entertainment and Media Arts (LEMA) pilot school at Lincoln High School reported for orientation this week with certainty, for the first-time, that their school will open as planned on Tuesday, Aug. 17.
Last week, a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge denied United Teachers Los Angeles’ (UTLA) request for a preliminary injunction to keep the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) from opening two pilot schools this fall. The teacher’s union claimed that the district had not followed required procedures for converting existing schools to pilots.
In his decision, LA Superior Court Judge Robert O’Brien disagreed with UTLA President AJ Duffy on his interpretation of the Memorandum of Understanding. The MOU between the teacher’s union and the district does not define what constitutes a new pilot versus a conversion, according to the judge’s Aug. 4 order.
O’Brien specified that the agreement only provides two examples of start-up pilots: a newly constructed school such as Esteban Torres, or a reopened school like Hughes Middle School in Woodland Hills that is currently closed. Furthermore, the agreement does not provide any examples of a conversion, he indicated.
Using the basic definition of the word “convert” and what constitutes a “new” or “start-up” pilot school, the judge said it was obvious that an original creation is not something that “existed before, but has been transformed into something else.”
“I am very pleased with the judge’s ruling on this matter and look forward to bringing this issue to a final resolution so that we can get back to the business of providing our students with a quality education. Pilot schools are part of the many avenues to academic success for students,” said LAUSD Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines in an Aug. 4 written statement. “The students who expect to attend these schools would certainly be hurt if a legal battle delayed their opening.”
The case also involves the San Fernando Institute for Applied Media, at San Fernando Middle School, which will also be opening as scheduled.
LEMA Principal Roberta Mailman told EGP on Aug. 6 that when she learned of the decision from LAUSD’s lawyers, she immediately emailed the news to her staff and superiors.
“It’s a relief. It’s just another weight off our shoulders,” Mailman said.
When asked about the possibility of UTLA continuing to pursue the matter, Mailman said, “from the way the decision was written it doesn’t look like it would be in anyone’s best interest to continue this process.”
New student orientations were held for LEMA ninth graders on Tuesday and upperclassmen on Wednesday.
The school is celebrating by continuing to work, Mailman said.
Lincoln’s LEMA design team members and teachers Beth Kennedy, Michael Kennedy, Scott Petri and Mailman submitted a letter of intent in June to apply to run a pilot school at Central High School #13, a new campus located in Glassell Park, as part of round two of school choice.
The judge’s order may impacts other proposals for pilot schools at existing campuses during LAUSD’s on-going Public School Choice reform.
UTLA had not responded to EGP’s request for comment on its next steps as of press time. but as of Tuesday, a second hearing was still scheduled for Aug. 31, with trial set for Oct. 1.