LAICHS says they are unlikely to accept the district's co-location offer.
By David Fonseca, Highland Park Mt Washington Patch | http://bit.ly/HNVzvX
April 11, 2012 :: Following a protest outside Los Angeles International Charter High School held by Benjamin Franklin High School teachers and students on Friday, March 30, lawyers for the California Charter School Association (CCSA) sent a letter to the Los Angeles Unified School district demanding that they put an end to the "harassing" behavior or face legal action.
The letter--sent last week by CCSA lawyers Latham & Watkins to LAUSD counsel--states that the protest as well as comments made to the press by United Teachers of Los Angeles Representative Monica Whalen, were "counter to the spirit of [California Prop. 39]," which requires the district to make open classroom space available for rent to charter schools.
"We are alerting you to these incidents to put LAUSD on notice that if the hostilities do not stop, and if LAUSD fails to take action to prevent its employees from harassing charter school students and teachers, CCSA will have no choice but to seek judicial relief," the correspondence states.
Los Angeles International Charter High School (LAICHS) is currently in the process of considering an offer made by the Los Angeles Unified School District to move into eight classroom bungalows located on the Franklin campus.
The charter school first applied through Prop. 39 to move onto Franklin's campus in November, a move Whalen has argued would limit student access to gym and library facilities, burden staff with added administrative tasks and open the school to increased competition from the charter.
The move would also displace Franklin's Arroyo Seco Academy, which uses the bungalows for classrooms, computer labs and storage space.
In response to the potential move, Whalen authored a petition expressing the union's opposition to the potential move. As of Wednesday, it had 403 signatures.
"We want to make them know they're not going to be welcome," Whalen told Patch in a previous interview.
However, Whalen disputed the claims in the letter which stated that Franklin students were throwing rocks or blocking the entrance to LAICHS.
"We showed up in the morning and stood across the street and waved," she said "We held a big sign that said 'Join Franklin.' The cops drove right by us and didn't do anything."
She also denied that any students were offered extra credit to take part in the protest.
"Teachers were told not to offer extra credit, and they didn't," Whalen said. "When we asked students why they took part, they said it was because they wanted to keep Franklin whole."
She also scoffed at the notion that her petition violated provisions of Prop. 39 that require public schools to offer their facilities "in good faith."
"Do I want to share by counselors with a charter school? Do I want a learning community to be displaced? No. But I can't stop anybody from coming here. I don't wish violence on anyone," she said. "I'm just one person, I can't stop them from doing anything."
Tactics May Be Working for Franklin
Tony Torres--planning and development director for LAICHS--told Patch that students were "shaken" by the protest.
"There's a concern for safety among the students," Torres said.
He said LAICHS was "probably going to turn the offer down" despite the significant decrease in rent they would pay should they move to Franklin. He declined to discuss the financial details of the offer.
"We're still going to run it by students, teachers and faculty, but we've already heard from them," Torres.
LAICHS is required to respond to LAUSD's offer by May 1. Their lease at their current location at 625 Coleman Avenue doesn't expire until 2020.
Torres said the charter school's likely plan moving forward would be to reapply for Franklin's available classroom space next year, while attempting to bring "a sense of calm" to relationship between the two schools in the meantime.