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Fishburn parents and teachers succeed in ousting principal

Mike Szymanski | July 1, 2015

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FishburnSchoolRallyParents and teachers have succeeded in ousting a principal and assistant principal from Fishburn Avenue Elementary School in Maywood.

“We heard exciting news that the district is going to transfer both the principal and assistant principal,” said Alfonso Flores, an educational consultant and founder of Excellent Educational Solutions. “This is the best possible outcome and it shows what can happen when the teachers and community come together.”

The parents and teachers were among the first to unite to use a Parent Trigger campaign under the Parent Empowerment Act. If more than 50 percent of parents at a low-performing school sign a petition, the parents can then enact change, including removing its leadership or converting it to a charter.

Flores works with former California State Sen. Gloria Romero at the nonprofit California Center for Parent Empowerment. He said the threat of the Parent Trigger campaign caused LA Unified to act despite years of complaints. Romero helped the parents and teachers with their petition campaign.

Flores told LA School Report that Superintendent Ramon Cortines “was gracious when meeting with parents and teachers. He listened to all the complaints. Then, he came back and made the greatest announcement that we could imagine.”

Parents and teachers will both be involved in a committee to pick the new principal, according to the district. And, Cortines promised that more resources will be coming to the school.

The deadline to apply as principal is tomorrow. The school includes about 630 students, with a 99 percent Latino population, 57 percent English Learners, 9 percent with disabilities, 4 percent gifted and 84 percent economically disadvantaged. The position pays between $87,678 and $109,487.

The Fishburn administrators had apparently refused to use some financial resources allocated to the school and in some cases returned thousands of dollars that could have been spent on Fishburn students and teachers.

“We were happy to hear that Mr. Cortines said he would relocate that money and return it to the school because it was done in retaliation to the parents,” Flores said.

In past years, petitions to remove the principal were ignored by both LAUSD officials and school board members. Parents said the retaliation by school administrators included the shutting off of school water fountains, closing student restrooms or refusing to stock toilet paper, and keeping parents with special needs students waiting up to three years to give them an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

“We are no longer ignored or invisible because of this great law,” said parent leader Mirna Borquez.

The official school website still has the transferred principal, Beatriz Bogan, listed. The interviews for the new principal are expected to start in mid July.

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