Thursday, February 03, 2011


By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer | LA Daily News |

4 Feb, 2011 -- Results of the community vote in Los Angeles Unified's Public School Choice program will be delayed by three weeks to coordinate with the district's recently revised schedule, officials said Thursday.

The League of Women Voters, which is overseeing the vote of parents, students and residents, said the results will be announced Feb. 24 or 25, instead of today as originally planned. The group's decision came on the heels of an announcement by Superintendent Ramon Cortines that he was delaying his own recommendations.

The nonbinding election will help the LAUSD board decide who should control a dozen campuses, including new high schools planned for Granada Hills and San Fernando. Various charter operators, nonprofit organizations and teacher-led groups are competing for the opportunity to participate in the reform effort.

Raquel Beltran, executive director of the league, said the nonpartisan group will use the additional three weeks to more critically analyze the election data.

"Unlike what you see in a municipal election, where you just count all the ballots and see who got the highest, this is a customized election," Beltran said.

During the advisory vote, which ended in January, people cast ballots based on their connection to a school.

The ballot cast by a parent, for instance, differed from the one cast by a community member. The ballot categories are being tallied separately.

Leaders of United Teachers Los Angeles have criticized the three-week delay in the election process. They note that it will push back school board's final vote until March 15 - a week after a districtwide election for four of the seven board seats.

"The School Board's decision will impact the education of each child and determine the future of this district," said Julie Washington, elementary vice-president of the teachers union.

"The public has a right to know, before they head to the polls, the voting records of the candidates who want to run our schools."

This is the second year of Public School Choice, a reform program designed to give outside parties the chance to improve student achievement.

The first year's vote was marred by allegations of voting irregularities, and one school board member said that questions raised about this year's election point to the need for a different process.

"As was the case during the first round of Public School Choice, the advisory vote is not only extremely difficult (if not impossible) to run smoothly, it also creates false expectations among voters," board member Tamar Galatzan wrote in her weekly newsletter.

Galatzan said some students at Monroe High School, for instance, were prevented from casting ballots for their favored applicant to operate the new Granada Hills campus.

"It is for these reasons," she wrote, "that I am asking incoming Superintendent (John) Deasy to do away with this requirement before the third round begins and replace it with some other mechanism, like an online survey, to gauge stakeholder interest."

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