Community groups continue to weigh in on new LAUSD leader
Mike Szymanski | December 4, 2015
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It’s a week since the school board set criteria for the next LAUSD superintendent, but that didn’t stop about 100 parents, students and community advocates from weighing in on what kind of person they think the candidate should be.
A group from South Los Angeles and the Eastside gathered at district headquarters yesterday to campaign for a superintendent who will sign a “Pledge to the Community,” promising equity and justice.
School board president Steve Zimmer said he plans to continue to get feedback in the process from the community even though the board is scheduled to meet with potential candidates as soon as this Sunday in closed session.
The community pledge developed by leaders from InnerCity Struggle and Community Coalition embraces four key values, calling upon the next LAUSD superintendent to make a commitment to community involvement, equity for the most disinvested communities, a commitment to racial justice and a commitment to health and wellness.
In addition to values, the community pledge highlights three policy positions around college and career: 1) A-G Readiness for All 2) Restorative Justice in the Highest Need Schools and 3) Full implementation of the “Equity is Justice” resolution of 2014.
The group urged the board “to hire a new superintendent who believes in the solutions our communities have demanded to increase graduation and college going rates, to eliminate suspensions and support the health and wellness of students,” said Maria Brenes, executive director of InnerCity Struggle which represents parents and students leaders on the Eastside.
“Although we’ve seen great progress in the opportunities, we still have yet to reach the vision of our community,” said Maria Leon, an Eastside parent. Over the past 20 years, leaders from both Community Coalition and InnerCity Struggle have pushed the district to take bold steps in implementing new policies to end racial inequities and disinvestment. However, the student and parent leaders from rally say there’s still much work to be done.
“Right now [at Crenshaw High School] we only have one bathroom for boys and one bathroom for the girls. That’s one restroom for every 500 students,” said junior Takara Haslem.
Alberto Retana, president of Community Coalition, said that the board needs to take bold steps and ask candidates the tough questions: “Are they willing to place students before the interests of adults? Are they willing to step up to the wealthier parts of our district and say these next few years are about improving the schools with the highest needs? Are they willing to say students and parents must be a part of the solution—not after decision have been made, but while the solutions are being crafted?”