Wednesday, August 21, 2013


By Barbara Jones, Los Angeles Daily News |

8/20/13, 8:32 PM PDT | Updated: 5 AM Aug 21 ::  After years of battling over the co-location of charter and traditional campuses, the Los Angeles Unified board took steps Tuesday toward seeking changes to the law approved by voters in 2000 that requires districts to give unused space to the independent schools.

After a lengthy, convoluted and emotional discussion, the board OK’d an initial resolution drafted on the fly by member Steve Zimmer to lobby lawmakers for changes that address LAUSD’s concerns. Zimmer’s plan also would prohibit charter operators from recruiting students from traditional schools while on the campus and to explore whether to file a class-action lawsuit on behalf of children negatively affected by a co-located charter.

The sharing of facilities — from playgrounds to parking lots — has created friction between charter and traditional operators and prompted concerns that kids at traditional schools are being shortchanged. District officials said there are about 50 co-located charters in the district.

The formal resolution will be considered at the board’s Sept. 10 meeting.

Board member Tamar Galatzan complained about being forced to vote on a plan “written on the back of a piece of paper during a board meeting” and asked for a one-month delay. Galatzan, who is an attorney, also worried that the board’s action might conflict with the district’s legal challenge to Proposition 39, which is now being heard in the state Supreme Court.

But Zimmer was insistent on pushing ahead with his resolution, which grew out of a relatively minor request to spend bond money rather than general fund revenue to install fire alarms and door locks at Extera Charter, which is located on the campus of Lorena Elementary in Venice.

  • smf: Lorena Elementary is in Northeast LA, across the Pasadena from Mount Washington.

“I’m not going to end another board meeting not addressing these issues and leaving this out there in the open,” he said.

The vote was 5-2, with dissenting votes by Galatzan and Monica Garcia, who suddenly found themselves as a minority bloc following the election last month of Richard Vladovic as president. Garcia had been board president for six years, but was precluded from serving again after the board imposed term limits.

Vladovic opened the meeting by announcing his appointments to a network of advisory committees he hopes will create a more inclusive and transparent district. He wants the panels to meet monthly and to come to the regular meeting with recommendations or talking points to share with their colleagues.

Vladovic said he hadn’t previously shared his decisions, so it was the first time the members had heard his plan.

Zimmer, Vladovic’s vice president, will chair the Committee of the Whole, a panel of all seven members who will meet monthly to discuss issues without taking a vote. Zimmer also will chair an ad hoc committee on adult education.

Galatzan was asked to chair the committee that studies budget, audit and technology issues — a panel she headed under Garcia. Vladovic also asked Galatzan to study the format of the board meetings in an effort to make them run more smoothly.

Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte, a former teacher and principal, was asked to continue chairing the Curriculum and Instruction Committee. Bennett Kayser was asked to form a committee on early childhood education and parent engagement, and Monica Ratliff — the newest member — to oversee technology.

Garcia was the only member without a committee assignment, although Vladovic encouraged members to participate on any of the ad hoc panels that interested them.

Vladovic also required local district superintendents and district department heads to attend the meeting and to meet immediately with parents who brought complaints or concerns to the board.

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