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Typical LA Unified school board meeting: pique and confusion

Vanessa Romo | January 21, 2014



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Tamar Galatzan: She was not happy

Tamar Galatzan: She was not happy

Today’s LA Unified school board meeting may have been brief, but it was just as acrimonious and confusing as some of the longer ones.

While problems contributing to the appearance of dysfunction usually focus on content or process. This one focused on both.

The big issue was over Bennett Kayser’s resolution to expand Title I funding to schools with only 40 percent low-income student population, rather than the current threshold, 50 percent.

As it appeared on the meeting agenda, it was virtually the same as a measure that came before the board two months ago from Tamar Galatzan and Monica Ratliff that was defeated in a 3-3 deadlock, with Kayser abstaining.

“Maybe this is the lawyer in me,” said Galatzan, who was clearly piqued. “But this seems substantially similar to me.”

Other members seemed confused about how the item ended up on the agenda, to start with. The board’s Rule 73 blocks members from initiating a motion that is “substantially similar” to one that has been voted on within the previous six months. That’s meant to promote stability and also prevent the board from repeatedly dealing with the same issues.

However, the rule can be waived by a majority vote. If that happens then the resolution can be discussed at the subsequent board meeting. Not this time.

Board President Richard Vladovic said he found the timing of Kayser’s resolution “inappropriate.”

“You take a vote and then you move on,” he said. “Otherwise we will always be dealing with history and never move on.”

Kayser, who remained quiet throughout the discussion, did not call for a waiver of rule 73, leaving big questions hanging over the room. And for another day, neither he nor his staff was available to explain what’s going on.

It was unclear, for example, why he would offer such a similar resolution if he knew about rule 73. Or maybe he didn’t know about 73. Or maybe it’s different enough in the details to make it different — never mind, that any details were not revealed publicly. Or maybe it was his way of seeking input from other members before he returns next month with an updated version.

In any case, the morning seemed to pose more questions than answers, leaving the board with additional uncertainties to consider at the Feb. 11 meeting. For openers, it has to decide if his resolution is dissimilar enough to Galatzan’s that the board will consider it.

Or maybe he’ll just withdraw it.

Previous Posts: Two months after he killed one plan, Kayser has his own Title 1 ideasGovernor Brown’s budget pumps billions more into school fundingKayser Abstention Dooms Effort to Spread Out Title 1 Money.

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