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Another public meeting on LAUSD superintendent, another small crowd

Mike Szymanski | October 22, 2015

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Community input at Valley Academy of the Arts in Granada Hills.

At 8:30 a.m. today in Granada Hills, a dozen parents met to offer input at one of the two dozen community meetings held for the LAUSD school superintendent search.

This was the earliest and most northwest of all the community meetings planned in the large LA Unified district. It was held at the Valley Academy of the Arts and Sciences.

Like at others, attendance was sparse, judging by at least five coffee cakes available for each of the attendees in an auditorium that could hold 487, but the search committee members leading the meeting seemed satisfied.

“It would have been nice to have more people show up,” said Rudy Castruita, a former superintendent at Santa Ana and San Diego, who is now employed by the Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates to find the candidates for LA Unified’s next superintendent. “I wished more people would have shown up, but this group represents what a lot of people think who didn’t show up. We could have had 25 meetings and come up with the same issues, same challenges and same characteristics.”

Castruita said that this group raised a few topics he had not heard yet: health issues in schools involving vaccinations, whooping cough and head lice policies. He also cited concerns that the teachers weren’t consulted before the Breakfast in the Classroom program was initiated.

“The board has really reached out to the community and the numbers do not reflect the interest in the community,” said another search leader, Carolyn McKennan. “The nine or 10 people who show up to voice their opinions represent many other people. You are being heard. We will continue to do outreach.”

Nobel Middle School parent Lori Kalman said she didn’t think the meetings were publicized very well. “Some parents I know were frustrated that they had not heard about this meeting, or even know about the survey,” she said. “Maybe they would have gotten a better turn out, or people could have taken off from work.”

Several attendees described what they wanted in the next superintendent.

“It is important for a superintendent to motivate parents to get involved, and learn how to help children with their homework,” said another mother, Rosa De Marcos. She was also concerned with families who do not have access to electronics at home. “In would also like to see a superintendent who was a teacher and was a parent and can take into account needs of parents and the community,” she added.


Rudy Castruita and Carolyn McKenna lead search meeting.

One parent was concerned that schools have to figure out how to fund their library aide to get their libraries open again. Another former teacher said he wanted to see the district bring back the arts into the school curriculums.

“I just thing we need someone who is a partner, not a dictator,” said a mother of two girls who play musical instruments and echoed the need for arts in the schools — she did not want to be identified She said one of her daughters “is afraid to go to school because she knows of a boy who brings a switchblade to class every day. She’s afraid to tell anyone because of retribution, and she is afraid to go to the bathroom.”

A retired teacher who sent four children through LAUSD said, “I feel strongly we need to support public schools and I do not want to see what we gained to be taken away from us by a few people who think they know what is good for the whole district.”

Another father was a bit more specific, saying, “I want a superintendent who doesn’t report to Eli Broad and the charter school lobby.”

That brought a smile to Castruita. “I’ve heard that brought up over and over again,” he said.”


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