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Board Preview: Kayser’s New Magnet Proposal

Samantha Oltman | March 14, 2013

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Board Member Bennett Kayser

At the LAUSD Board meeting this Tuesday, March 19, Board Member Bennett Kayser is slated to introduce a resolution that would create new rules governing how new magnet schools are created — and who has the authority to approve them.

Under the Kayser proposal, a majority of the full-time, unionized teaching staff at a school has to approve of the magnet model before anyone can write a magnet plan.

The resolution comes on the heels of LAUSD’s January reconstitution of the low-performing Crenshaw High School into a collection of three magnets, which Board members (including Kayser) approved 6-0 despite union and community resistance.

Kayser’s chief of staff, Sarah Bradshaw, says that the proposal doesn’t have much to do with what happened at Crenshaw High. “Crenshaw already happened and this is going forward,” Bradshaw said.

Under current procedures like the ones used for Crenshaw, Superintendent John Deasy led the decision, which was approved by the Board with six votes (Richard Valdovic was absent) despite dramatic opposition from certain Crenshaw parents, students, and community members.

The teachers union was another vocal opponent of the switch to magnet schools. After the Board approved Crenshaw’s magnet transition, UTLA sent out a scathing press release that criticized the district for “using police intimidation against parents and illegal, racially-discriminatory anti-union practices against employees to push its destabilization and reconstitution plan.” (See release here.)

Kayser’s resolution, if it passes, would create a more complicated and nuanced approval process for magnets than the one currently in place. It could reduce the number of new magnet schools created because teachers sometimes have to reapply for their jobs when their school becomes a magnet. It’s likely that there are teachers who would be reluctant to approve that kind of change.

Additionally, the resolution proposes that before writing a magnet plan for a school, there must first be a community meeting and a parent survey to get input on whether the community wants a magnet school, and if so, what kind of magnet.

The magnet proposal, which must be written with input from parents and teachers, would then go to the Board for final approval. (See the full text of Kayser’s resolution in the meeting agenda here.)

Superintendent Deasy is also scheduled on the Board’s meeting agenda to give an update on the magnet schools program. LA School Report reached out to the district for more information about this, but we didn’t get any more details.

Previous posts: Crenshaw Reconstituted, Aspire Squeaks By; Crenshaw Protest Heads to Board Decision

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