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LAUSD outlines backup plans as MiSiS work continues

Vanessa Romo | September 10, 2014

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LAUSD School Board meeting 9-9-2014LA Unified is still scrambling to troubleshoot technical issues as the deadline for staffing schools approaches, the school board learned at its latest meeting yesterday.

Norm” day,” as it’s called, is set for Friday but problems with the new student data management system, MiSiS, have forced the district to devise a new plan: “The process will be a rolling process over a course of three weeks,” Deputy Superintendent Michelle King told the board.

Final student counts will be taken manually in a “double verification process,” and principals will get follow up visits from district staff to confirm numbers before any displacements occur, King told the board.

Schools experiencing the most severe problems are those enrolling kindergarten through eighth grade students, magnet schools and special education programs.

Chief Strategic Officer Matt Hill was contrite and optimistic addressing the board in the latest MiSiS update. “We rolled out the system with confidence that we can continue to improve it but there should have been a lot more testing,” he admitted to the board, echoing what many educators said in the months leading up to the disastrous launch of the program.

Another hurdle for the glitch-plagued system is printing student transcripts, a problem distressing to high school seniors who are now applying to colleges.

“Kids get one shot to apply to college … we can’t let our transition on this hurt a kid in their application process,” board member Steve Zimmer said.

But Hill assured the board that this aspect of system should be “fully functional” by the end of next week.

Board member Tamar Galatzan‘s resolution requiring charter management organizations to notify parents when they are in jeopardy of losing their charter generated a heated discussion when issues of revocation suddenly got mixed in with muffins.

The measure was put off for further consideration next month.

Before her motion could come before the members for a vote, Bennett Kayser offered what he called a “friendly” amendment, which would also require charter schools to inform parents of a range of other changes and actions involving such subjects as play space, teacher credential status, staff pay scale, instruction materials, special education services, curriculum content, food service and caloric content.

After a testy exchange, the members voted, 5-2, to approve Kayser’s amendment, which Galatzan characterized as “hostile.” At one point, Galatzan asked, “Are we supposed to notify parents if a school changes the muffin recipe?”

Rather than continue arguments over language or over whether any of Kayser’s inclusions were even legal, the board tabled the entire matter, pending a review by legal counsel.

One notable vote that did occur was to spend nearly $300,000 on a Microsoft system that will delete emails after a year, in compliance with a new district policy. The vote, 6-0, with new member George McKenna abstaining, effectively eliminates the ability to see or understand communications on any specific issue that were sent more than a year before the current date.

Had the system been in place this year, none of the emails between Superintendent John Deasy and a former deputy, Jaime Aquino, with Apple and Pearson, prior to the iPad bidding process, would have been uncovered.

And finally, after remaining relatively silent in his first board meeting two weeks ago, McKenna was an active participant yesterday, weighing in with useful thoughts on lots of issues.

In his first vote, however, he came down on the losing side, as the members voted, 5-2, to return the start of meetings to 1 pm from 4 pm.

Previous Posts: Deasy on his critics: Constant attacks are ‘politically motivated’; Deasy planning to hire his own liaison for MiSiS project; The Ratliff report: one view of the iPad program gone awry

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