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Board Preview: Multiple Protests, Packed Agenda

Hillel Aron | May 13, 2013

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Teachers protest outside the School Board meeting in March of 2012

Just as record-breaking temperatures in Los Angeles are expected to subside by tomorrow, many of the heated LAUSD issues on the docket for tomorrow’s Board meeting may cool off into mere formalities by the time they come up for a vote.

But a packed Board agenda and multiple union rallies could still make for a dramatic day at the district’s Beaudry Avenue headquarters.

Both UTLA and the SEIU Local 99 have planned demonstrations. The latest “parent trigger” petition is up for approval, and Board member proposals on such difficult topics as lengthening the school year and reforming school discipline are all on the agenda.

The teachers union is planning a big march in support of higher salaries and more jobs (or, as they put it, smaller class sizes). The rally starts at 4 PM, so that teachers can make it over after school.

UTLA President Warren Fletcher will address the School Board at some point during the meeting. Though there is no agenda item that directly addresses the demands laid out in UTLA’s “Initiative for Schools L.A. Students Deserve” which include smaller class sizes and higher salaries, you can expect Fletcher and others to address these issues.

The SEIU local 99 is also planning a march in support of Breakfast in the Classroom, a controversial program that Superintendent John Deasy has placed on the agenda and the Board is expected to approve by an overwhelming margin.

Deasy has placed a number of other budget items on the agenda, and they too are expected to be approved. While confusing and counterintuitive to some, Deasy’s move was designed to take some of the heat off of himself and perhaps to shift some of it onto the School Board and show UTLA and his other critics that there is a certain amount of political support for his policies.

The Board agenda includes a cornucopia of other intriguing items and cans of worms, including final approval of the parent trigger petition at Weigand Elementary, which was submitted to the district in early April and doesn’t call for the school to be reconstituted or taken over by a charter. Instead, the “transformation” model will call for replacing the principal with a candidate that the parents approve of.

A pro-parent trigger source told LA School Report that he expects UTLA to put up a fight over Weigand, even though the though the Weigand trigger appears to be less extreme than previous trigger petitions such as the 24th Street Elementary School trigger, which calls for part of the school to be handed over to a charter.

LA School Report asked UTLA about their positions on Weigand and other agenda items. We’re still waiting for a response.

There will be the usual number of postponed resolutions from Board Member Bennett Kayser resolitions and the usual number of charter approvals — although in a relatively unusual move Superintendent Deasy’s office has actually recommended that one of them, Gian Charter Academy, be rejected.

We reached out to the would-operators of Gian Charter, the Khalsa Care Foundation, and we’ve yet to hear back. But it will be interesting to see what kind of presence they’ll bring to the meeting, and they will have sway with the School Board, which has buckled to endangered charters in the past.

Last but not least, two agenda items by School Board President Monica Garcia could cause a stir. The first — a resolution on school discipline that would, among other things, ban suspensions for “willful defiance” — is expected to have broad support, despite some resistance from classroom teachers.

Garcia’s second resolution about lengthening the school year is brand new and therefore won’t be voted on until June. The proposal would in part direct “the Superintendent to examine the feasibility of increasing the academic calendar beyond 180 days, including but not limited to 1) extending the 2014-15 academic calendar by at least 5% and 2) the feasibility of a 200 day academic calendar year.”

Observers say this could put UTLA in a tight spot. Extending the school year may be good for student learning but it would presumably mean paying current teachers more money rather than re-hiring teachers laid off during recent rounds of budget cutting.

Previous posts: Parents Rally for Classroom BreakfastUnion Focusing on Jobs at Tuesday Board MeetingDeasy Memo Foreshadows Dramatic Board MeetingDeasy’s School Breakfast Gambit Confuses Supporters

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