District Administration - July 2007 - (Page 20)

BRIEFINGS InsidetheLaw L.A. Unified and Charter Schools Butt Heads A CHARTER SCHOOL COALITION consisting of Green Dot Public Schools, Partnerships to Uplift Communities (PUC) Schools, and the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) recently filed two lawsuits in the Los Angeles Superior Court against the Los Angeles Unified School District, alleging that the district has failed to make adequate space available for their charter students. At issue in the cases is equal access to facilities for all public school students granted by Proposition 39, a state ballot measure passed by voters in 2000. The law requires that school districts share public school facilities fairly among all public school students, including those that attend charter schools. Many charter proposals do not come with readymade campuses. More than 103 charter schools operate in L.A. Unified—more than in any other district in the state. L.A. Unified has provided furniture, fi xtures and temporary classrooms to more than 11,000 charter students, and an additional 2,300 are in new district buildings. But thousands more of the 42,000 charter students are in need of a place to learn. “Charter school students are public school students. [L.A. Unified] must By Zach Miners Students fight for space at the Animo Film & Theater Arts Charter High School in Los Angeles, which is housed in the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church. stop treating them as second-class citizens when it comes to providing classrooms,” says Myrna Castrejon, senior vice president for CCSA. The district claims that it has neither the resources nor the space for all the charter students. L.A. voters have, however, approved more than $11 billion since 2002 to help the district meet its legal obligation to provide facilities, with $120 million specifically earmarked for charter facilities. “There is no unanimity of opinion when it comes to ‘fair’ charter school treatment,” says L.A. Unified general counsel Kevin Reed. According to Caprice Young, CCSA president, the plaintiffs believe that the new Los Angeles school board members, who assume their duties on July 1, will have more of an inclination to follow the state law and to reach a settlement with the plaintiffs. PUC opened the first of its seven schools in 1999, and not one has ever had a district home, says co-founder Jacqueline Elliot. One location is a rented former private school where students cross a busy boulevard between classes. Another is a dirt lot with portable buildings. The plaintiffs assert that L.A. Unified has continued to violate state law. Public record requests from 2005-2007 say that the district denied or made unreasonable offers to 57 of the 59 requests for facilities made by charter schools, which include Green Dot and PUC schools. The district denied Green Dot’s request to house five charters next year; all five of those schools are subjects of the lawsuit. Three of the seven PUC schools are subjects of the other lawsuit. Young says that legal action has made a difference elsewhere, including San Diego Unified, which now collaborates more closely with charter schools. “Districts and charter schools need to share the pain,” she says. Some Highly Qualified Teachers May Not Be So Qualified ACCORDING TO A RECENT FED erally sponsored study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (www.nichd.nih.gov), the quality of instruction in elementary classrooms has little to do with whether teachers have the credentials to meet the definition of “highly qualified” under 20 July 2007 STAT BLAST The number of charter schools nationwide grew by 11% in 2006. Charter schools now serve a student body that is on average 53% minority and 54% low-income. Source: 2007 Annual Survey of America’s Charter Schools the No Child Left Behind law. Through detailed observations of students in 20 states, the study showed that teachers labeled as highly qualified focused their lessons on basic skills rather than problem-solving, and their students may or may not have received emotional and instructional support in class. District Administration http://www.nichd.nih.gov

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration - July 2007

Contents
Editor’s Letter
Letters
News Update
Facilities/Construction Update
Curriculum Update
Inside the Law
Administrator Profile
District Profile
Cover Story: Rethinking School Bus Safety
Broadening Collective Bargaining
Searching for Subs
Jersey City’s Broad Appeal
Improving Nutrition in Schools
New Products
Computer Literature
How Well Does This Web Site Work?
Research Corner
Problem Solution
Online Edge
Speaking Out
Supervisor’s Opinion
Calendar of Events
Understanding the Times

District Administration - July 2007

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