Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sun Valley teacher suspended for inappropriate Facebook posts, claims he was framed |

Sun Valley teacher suspended for inappropriate Facebook posts, claims he was framed |


A Sun Valley teacher is fighting to regain his job and his reputation. He claims someone created a fake Facebook account and posted inappropriate messages using his name.

Jason Duchan says a former student bent on ruining him, created the fake page.

"When I saw this, I couldn't believe it," Duchan said.

The page has since been taken down.

The John Francis Polytechnic High School teacher says school officials learned of the page last November and immediately suspended him pending an investigation.

They also sent a letter to parents, telling them that an employee had been removed for alleged misconduct.

Give me Stalin and St. Paul or Give me Christ and Hiroshima ( comment from Ravitch Blog on the Plight of Railroaded Teachers Drew Pepper commented: "KnowtheFactsFirst June 29, 2015 at 8:08 pm "What do you expect the District to do? All the police investigate is whether there is enough evidence to arrest/prosecute a teacher. The school investigates 'liability' concerns. If there appears evide"
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Sun Valley teacher suspended for inappropriate Facebook posts, claims he was framed |

Sun Valley teacher suspended for inappropriate Facebook posts, claims he was framed |


A Sun Valley teacher is fighting to regain his job and his reputation. He claims someone created a fake Facebook account and posted inappropriate messages using his name.

Jason Duchan says a former student bent on ruining him, created the fake page.

"When I saw this, I couldn't believe it," Duchan said.

The page has since been taken down.

The John Francis Polytechnic High School teacher says school officials learned of the page last November and immediately suspended him pending an investigation.

They also sent a letter to parents, telling them that an employee had been removed for alleged misconduct.

Duchan says he fell apart watching his career disintegrate.

"I couldn't even leave the house for two weeks, and my life was destroyed," he said.

Los Angeles Unified School District officials said they don't comment on personnel matters. However, Los Angeles Police Department investigators confirmed they're trying to track down the person who set up the Facebook page.

Meantime, Duchan, a media arts instructor, is currently working as a substitute at a different school. He says LAUSD told him the only place he can get his own class is at John Francis Polytechnic High School, where he says staff, students and parents know him as the teacher who is still under investigation.

"For me to go back there would be dangerous because I could have gotten hurt physically, the kids could have said things, they could have damaged my car," Duchan said. "How could they send me back to the same location where they never exonerated me?"

Duchan accuses the school district of negligence and will likely file a lawsuit against the district.

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Lawsuit: LAUSD misappropriated funds for high-need students | Mobile

Lawsuit: LAUSD misappropriated funds for high-need students | Mobile

Lawsuit: LAUSD misappropriated funds for high-need students


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Civil rights groups filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Unified School District Wednesday alleging that millions of dollars intended to help low income, foster care and English-learner students were diverted to special education services.

The nonprofit law firm Public Advocates and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California assert the nation's second largest school counted special education costs in the 2013-14 school year instead as spending on services for the students targeted under a new funding law.

The local control funding formula adopted in 2013 provides districts with higher numbers of low income, foster care and English learner students with additional funds. While districts are given discretion on how to spend the funds, the regulations require they be spent on the designated high-need students in proportion to the increase in funds received. The law is considered one of the nation's largest public undertakings to equalize educational opportunities.

"LAUSD is breaking its promise to provide my children and millions of other students in the future, with the services they need and the law says they should receive," said Reyna Frias, a mother of two students who qualify for the additional funds and a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

LAUSD did not immediately return a request for comment.

The lawsuit claims LAUSD included $450 million in special education spending in its 2013-14 estimate of expenditures tied to the supplemental and concentration grants determined by a district's number of low-income, foster care and English learner students. As a result, the groups claim LAUSD inflated its baseline spending, "lessening its obligation to spend new funds it will receive to increase or improve services for these students over the course of implementation."

Public Advocates and the ACLU estimate that as a result high need students were deprived of about $126 million in the 2014-15 school year and $288 million in the next. The groups conclude low-income, foster care and English learner students will miss out on more than $2 billion total by the time the law is fully implemented in 2020-21.

The lawyers are asking Los Angeles Superior Court to require the district to recalculate its previous expenditures and for the county superintendent to reject LAUSD's annual accountability plan, which it is due to approve by early August.

The suit is believed to be the first to specifically address proportional spending on high need students. The groups said they don't want LAUSD to set a precedent for other districts.

"If other districts followed LAUSD's lead the promise of LCFF would evaporate overnight," said John Affeldt, an attorney for Public Advocates.

In a board meeting in June, LAUSD leaders said local control funding has been spent on increasing the number of counselors, providing additional supports for foster care students, as well as toward the district's implementation of restorative justice. They also acknowledged spending money toward schools that had been hardest hit by the recession.


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Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Schools Matter: Ref Rodriguez's school scandals unreported by LA School Report?

Schools Matter: Ref Rodriguez's school scandals unreported by LA School Report?

Ref Rodriguez's school scandals unreported by LA School Report?

"Of course, the network of power and privilege that eases access to the Ivy League isn't severed at matriculation—it supports the scions of the superrich throughout. Further emails from the Sony hack show the Lynton nepotism machine gearing up for his elder daughter, Eloise, an undergraduate at Harvard who found herself unable to get into a very popular class with Dr. Jerome Groopman, a New Yorker writer and professor of biology." — Sam Biddle

Jamie Alter-Lynton's Deasy (LA) School Report
Jamie Alter-Lynton's blog byline should read "what Deasy wants you to think is really going on in LAUSD"

Professor Diane Ravitch discussed a recent Daily News piece in her Los Angeles School Board Race: Attack Ads and Lies Aplenty. The Thomas Hines article in question rightly points out that all of Ref Rodriguez's and his California Charter Schools Association's attacks on the Honorable Bennett Kayser have been patently false, but the issues brought up about Rodriguez—like the PUC Lakeview Charter Academy Audit—are true. Of course, not every Los Angeles media outlet has covered the myriad scandals surrounding the billionaire's candidate. I addressed this issue in the following commentary.

I keep wondering when Jamie Alter-Lynton, sibling of the dubious Jonathan Alter, will have her "news" blog — LA School Report — cover either the Lakeview Audit, or the Jacqueline Duvivier Castillo (Better 4 You Meals) self-dealing scandal, or both? Alter-Lynton's site claims that it practices "journalism in the public interest", yet somehow misses two of the biggest Los Angeles education scandals of the year, both centering around their candidate: charter industry profiteer Ref Rodriguez.

This quote says it all: "audits… indicated charter officials [i.e. Ref Rodriguez] knew of the alleged conflict of interest"

The well heeled Rodriguez was PUC Corporation's CEO, and then their Board Treasurer during both the Lakeview financial malfeasance and Duvivier Castillo incidents. He claims to have known absolutely nothing about either situation, the former occurring for over a decade, the latter for several years now. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, that means Rodriguez is either grossly incompetent, or criminally complicit (there are some that would posit he manages to be both). Neither of those are desirable qualities for a trustee of the nation's second largest school district.

Maybe the LA School Report can run this piece on education and privilege?

Robert D. Skeels is a social justice writer, public education advocate, and immigrant rights activist. He lives, works, writes, and organizes in Los Angeles with his wife and cats. Robert holds a BA in Classical Civilization from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and is currently a law student at Peoples College of Law (PCL). A US Navy Veteran, he is a proud member of Veterans for Peace. A student of Liberation Theology and Paulo Freire's work, Robert devotes much time towards volunteer work for 12 step, church, homeless advocacy, and grassroots groups. Robert's articles and essays appear in publications including Schools Matter, CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, Daily Censored, Echo Park Patch, K12NN, LA Progressive, and The Los Angeles Daily News. In 2013 Robert ran for the LAUSD School Board against a billionaire funded corporate reform candidate, finishing second in a field of five, with over 5,200 votes.


The anti-worker forces that are trying to break our union just got a big break from the United States Supreme Court.

This morning, the court agreed to hear the case Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association during its next term.

Make no mistake: This case is not about individual liberty or the First Amendment. It is an outright attack against unions to prevent us from representing our members and using our voices to fight for our families, our schools, our colleges, our healthcare facilities and our communities.

We're preparing a national campaign to mobilize our members and communities across the country to fight for an America where everyone's voice matters. Sign up to join when we launch later this summer.

This case would undermine our unions and challenge nearly 40 years of precedent—and the court agreed to hear it barely a year after it dealt a blow to workers with its decision in Harris v. Quinn. In fact, the conservative justices on the court used the Harris v.Quinn ruling to invite cases like this one, showing just how political they really are.

Fwd: In-coming LAUSD board members getting their priorities in order



LA School Report

"What's Really Going on Inside LAUSD"

In-coming LAUSD board members getting their priorities in order

Posted on June 30, 2015 10:39 am by Vanessa Romo

Scott Schmerelson LAUSD

Ref Rodriguez is in the market for new friends. Specifically, friends on the LA Unified school board, which he'll officially join tomorrow for a five-year term ending in 2020. 

"I know I need to build some relationships with certain communities that may not trust me because of the campaign," he told LA School Report.

He and the other 2015 board election winners — Scott Schmerelson, George McKenna and Richard Vladovic — will be sworn in at a special ceremony tomorrow, prior to a board meeting to select a board president.

Rodriguez, who trounced Bennett Kayser in the District 5 race, has been accused of being behind one of the nastiest campaigns for a school board seat in LAUSD history. Neighborhoods across the city, from Highland Park down to South Gate, were papered with fliers accusing Kayser of racism and opposing good schools for Latino children. Others intentionally misrepresented Kayser's voting record on the district's iPad deal.  Continue reading 



A day of pomp, circumstance and politics awaiting new LAUSD board

Posted on June 30, 2015 2:55 pm by Vanessa Romo

New LAUSD school board member Monica Ratliff is sworn into office by her mother Yolanda Asenjo Padilla Ratliff at Monday's school board meeting.   Photo by David Crane/Staff Photographer

Get ready for some pomp, circumstance — and politics. 

The first half of tomorrow's LA Unified school board meeting, starting at 10 am, will be a swearing in ceremony for four newly elected board members by people or, in some cases, groups of people, of their choice. 

Scott Schmerelson, Ref Rodriguez, George McKennaand Richard Vladovic — will be taking an oath, each committing the next five years to the district. 

Voters recently approved a measure to align school board elections with other statewide races in order to boost voter turn out. That means the four board members will sit on the board until 2020. Continue reading 


Supreme Court to hear case of teachers vs. CTA over union dues

Posted on June 30, 2015 10:25 am by Craig Clough

Friedrichs vs. CTA plaintiffs Jelena Figuerora, Karen Cuen, Rebecca Friedrichs (Credit: CIR)

The Supreme Court announced today it will hear a case that could deal a major blow to the financial power of public sector unions.

The case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, involves 10 California teachers who say their being forced to pay union dues violates their right to free speech.

The teachers are asking the court to overturn its 1977 ruling in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which allows unions to collect dues from non-members for collective bargaining efforts on their behalf.

Forcing public employees to pay union dues — known as "agency shop" laws — as a requirement for employment is in place in California and 25 other states. Although not required to join the union, employees still have to pay dues but can opt out of the one-third that goes toward political action. The other two-thirds goes toward collective bargaining. Continue reading 



  Councilman LaBonge honored with square at former high school

Posted on June 30, 2015 11:20 am by Mike Szymanski


Outgoing Los Angeles City Council memberTom LaBonge now has a square named after him in front of the school he graduated from, John Marshall High School.

The plaque also names the other public schools that LaBonge attended locally, including Ivanhoe Elementary School in 1963 and Thomas Starr King Middle School in 1968.

The councilman, who is being termed out of office this year after serving from 2001, attended Marshall High in 1971. The school is at Tracy and St. George streets in Los Feliz.

When the high school's Gothic style main building was slated for demolition after the Sylmar earthquake in 1971, LaBonge fought to save the structure.

LaBonge is also known for helping LA Unified fund and build the school's new Mike Haynes Stadium and Hugh Boyd Field that are used for football games and track meets.



Commentary: Vaccine opponents sincere yet misleading

Posted on June 30, 2015 8:57 am by LA School Report


By Robin Abcarian 

Despite all the noise around mandating vaccinations for schoolchildren, most California adults — some 67 percent, according to a recent poll — think it's a good idea.

We will soon know whether Gov. Jerry Brown agrees. On Monday, the Legislature sent him a bill that would end the personal belief exemption, a routinely abused loophole that has seriously eroded the immunization rates in many of California's school districts. Children who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons would be allowed to attend school.

Even if Brown signs the bill, you can bet the kicking and screaming on the other side will not stop. This week, opponents have launched a ferocious social media campaign directed at him, using the hashtag #HearUs.

Click here to read the full commentary.



Morning Read: State's alternative schools have little oversight

Posted on June 30, 2015 8:55 am by LA School Report

There's no good way to know how CA's alternative schools are workingThousands of low-income students flood schools designed for the most vulnerable students, but no one is keeping track of what happens to them. Hechinger Report

LBUSD teachers call for pay hikes, class-size reductionsThe teachers' contract in Long Beach Unified set to expire at month's end. Long Beach Press-Telegram

Children get extra semester before kindergarten with midyear classesThe Los Angeles Unified School District looked at the concept when the board voted last week to drastically expand its transitional kindergarten program. Ed Source

Report: Low-income communities lack child care in LA CountyFamilies encounter a big disparity in access to licensed child care spaces depending on where they live in Los Angeles County. Ed Source

Senate passes vaccine bill on second vote; now heads to Gov. BrownThe controversial bill would give California one of the country's strictest vaccination laws. San Jose Mercury News

7 solutions that would improve graduation ratesThis month we reported the findings from our nationwide investigation into the forces driving the nation's rising high school graduation rate. NPR






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There's no good way to know how California's alternative schools are working

There's no good way to know how California's alternative schools are working

Thousands of low-income students flood schools designed for the most vulnerable students, but no one is keeping track of what happens to them

Sarah Butrymowicz, Hechinger Report, June 30, 2015

Jailine Lopez skipped school more often than not her sophomore year. Eventually, she fell so far behind that counselors transferred her to Jereann Bowman High School in Santa Clarita, Calif., a school for students at risk of not graduating. And that, she says, is where her life began to turn around. Feeling like her teachers and peers cared, Lopez, 18, began regularly showing up for class, earning credits quickly and thinking about college for the first time.

DeShawn Wilkins, now 23, said that transferring out of his regular high school wasn't up to him. He was forced out of his original school for fighting and moved to San Bernardino's Sierra High School. Sierra, like Bowman, is one of the state's 480 "continuation schools." But unlike Lopez, Wilkins didn't connect with his teachers. He did the work, but there wasn't much incentive to show up. After missing three days in a row, he says he lost his spot at the school and dropped out altogether.

Lopez and Wilkins represent two extremes of student experience at California's continuation schools. Although the schools serve the most vulnerable students, the state has no mechanism for determining which schools are doing a good job and which need to get better. The Department of Education declined to comment on the state of continuation schools because, as a spokesperson said, most decisions about the schools are made at the local level.

"I think there are some genuinely good things going on in the alternative sector," said Russell Rumberger, director of the California Dropout Research project at the University of California, Santa Barbara. "I don't want to condemn the whole area. But we just don't know."

Continuation schools are supposed to take students who are far behind in credits and help them catch up in less time than at a comprehensive high school and are only required to offer 15 hours of classes a week, although they can offer more.

A 2008 study by California Alternative Education Research Project found that Academic Performance Index (API) scores were available for three consecutive years at just 229 of 519 continuation schools. Of these, only 23 schools were "beating the odds," based on student demographics. The same study found that continuation schools generally did at least as well as traditional schools in helping 11th and 12th graders pass the state high school exit exam.

According to a Hechinger Report analysis of available data, in 2012-13, more than 66,500 students were enrolled in continuation schools. Of these students, about 12,259 dropped out and 22,681 graduated. There's no record of how many of those graduates went on to higher education, but fewer than a tenth of a percent were eligible for admission to the state's four-year university systems.

The lack of concrete information about alternative schools is particularly striking in the age of accountability. Over the past 15 years — the entire time Lopez, Wilkins, and their peers have been in school — state and federal governments have pushed for more testing and the publication of more accurate information on graduation rates in order to identify and improve low-performing schools of all kinds.

That data could be particularly helpful for continuation schools. Surveys show that these schools have a high number of disadvantaged minority students, many of whom don't live with a parent or have a history of alcohol or substance abuse.

And in a trend that has puzzled alternative school experts, the percentage of low-income students at alternative schools is going up faster than the percentage in the traditional system, both nationally and in California.

Because students at continuation schools move often, the exact number of low-income students in these schools is hard to determine, but a Hechinger Report analysis of California state data found that continuation school enrollment of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, a federal measure of poverty, grew from 35 percent in 2000 to 72 percent in 2013. In the same time period, the percentage of low-income students in districts in which these schools are located rose from 47 to 61 percent.

There's no easy explanation for this trend, particularly as there are many routes into alternative education. Students might rack up too many absences, fall behind on credits, get in trouble too often or simply feel they don't fit in. California's law allows for both voluntary and involuntary transfer to the schools.

"We don't really have any way to tell how much of it is done in a thoughtful manner and how many cases it's really just a dumping process of 'get them out of my school so my graduation rate goes up,' " said Rumberger.

Administrators at Bowman differ on whether their school receives students forced out of traditional schools, but Principal Robin Geissler said that, in many cases, students at the school have simply fallen behind due to some sort of traumatic event, like a death in the family or homelessness. It's up to her and her team to figure out what went wrong for the roughly 500 students and help them refocus on school. Geissler keeps a virtual Post-it on her computer of those who have lost a family member recently. This year, nine students have made the list.

Nearly 44 percent of Bowman's students were eligible for free and reduced-priced lunch in 2013, compared to 25 percent in the entire district. "I don't see it as a bad thing," Geissler said of the discrepancy. "If the kids are with us, we'll graduate them."

Bowman now has a 95 percent graduation rate, with 81 percent of its graduates going on to higher education, most to community college. When Geissler arrived at the school nearly two decades ago, things were much different. The campus was unsafe, she said, and teaching consisted of giving students packets of worksheets to go through at their own pace and turn in for credit — without participating in classes. Teachers and students say that it's now a supportive environment. Students call teachers by their first names. Packets are banned. Instead, schedules are rotated every six weeks to allow students to earn credits quickly, but still make sure they learn.

On a morning earlier this year, students in an economics class were researching possible future careers, finding information on salary and the type of degree required. Students in an art class discussed symbolism in a painting from the Harlem Renaissance and an English class, in which Jailine Lopez is a student, held an open mic poetry session, with students snapping their fingers and pounding on desks to support their classmates.

73 percent of students in 400 continuation schools who qualified for free or reduced-price lunch last year, up from 36 percent in 2000.

Geissler says she knows of many other high-quality continuation schools. Still, it's difficult to know how many schools look like today's Bowman, which has been designated a Model Continuation School by the state, and how many, if any, still rely on teaching-by-packet. California law doesn't require continuation students to be taught directly by teachers; schools can use independent study or work-study programs.

There also isn't much public information on instruction at even the best schools. Each year, as many as two dozen schools are awarded Model Continuation School status, through a process that combines an application with external review. Wilkin's former school, Sierra, received the designation in 2010. But while it "wasn't a bad school," he said he didn't feel like was learning.

"I'm not just there for the credits," Wilkins said. "I need to learn something."

In the last three years, San Bernardino has embarked on a districtwide initiative to increase student engagement in school, said Linda Bardere, district director of communications. Annual survey results show that the program is having an impact, she says.

Apart from information gathered through the Model Continuation School program, the state department of education says it has limited data on how continuation schools perform. From 2001 to 2009, the state used an Alternative School Accountability Model, in which schools were allowed to pick the criteria on which they were judged, such as attendance, test scores or credit accumulation. Some experts criticized the model, which was scrapped due to budget cuts, for not providing enough uniform information about the schools. For instance, they were not required to report a graduation rate.

Administrators at continuation schools say that holding them to the same standards as a traditional high school is also problematic. Measuring school success based on a four-year graduation rate would miss students who graduate in five years — a very real possibility when some seniors come to a school with less than a quarter of the credits needed to graduate. Student pass rates on the high school exit exam may also be an imperfect indicator of a school's success: A continuation school might only have students for a few weeks before they take the high school exit exam — meaning their old school is still largely responsible for how they fare.

It's not clear how the Department of Education will measure continuation schools in the future, but some advocates worry that holding them to different standards will hurt the poor and minority students the schools serve. Orville Jackson, an education researcher, formerly with Education Trust–West, argues that it's important for continuation schools to expect the same results of their students as traditional high schools, including giving them the option to prepare for a four-year college.

Comprehensive high schools in California must offer the courses required for admission to the state's university systems, but alternative schools don't have to. Many alternative schools partner with community colleges, but can't afford to offer prep courses for four-year colleges — or if they offer the courses, can only do so through online programs. In part, that's because many students are so far behind academically when they come to continuation schools that just earning the credits for a diploma is enough of a challenge; school administrators say they have to be realistic about who they're serving. In 2013, only 132 continuation school graduates were eligible to go to a state university.

"If you start putting poor kids in separate schools you're going to get bad outcomes and you're going to disenfranchise a whole population of people," said Jackson, who attended a continuation school himself. "We really need to start thinking about how to bring this all under one umbrella and make sure we're having the same expectations and standards and practices for all kids."

Although Bowman does offer college-prep courses, Lopez won't be going to a four-year school right away. After graduating on time this spring, she plans to get her associate's degree at a community college, then transfer to a four-year college to earn a bachelor's in psychology.

Unlike Lopez, Wilkins wasn't able to catch up to his classmates. He had a series of starts and stops at the YouthBuild Charter School of California in San Bernardino. This spring, he was close to graduating, but stopped attending after some behavior issues. He's welcome back in the fall, though, and staff said they expected he'd try again.

Before he left, he acknowledged the need to earn his degree. "I've just got to get through school," he said in an interview early this year. "I'm not going to be labeled as a nothing."



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Are you an injured teacher?  CALL (818) 981-9960