Saturday, July 07, 2007

On shooting oneself in the foot with the magic bullet.

4LAKids: Sunday, July 8, 2007
In This Issue:
CANDIDATES VYING TO BE TEACHERS' PET: Sen. Barack Obama backed merit pay, an unpopular concept with the NEA, but nobody booed.
LAUSD TOLD TO RETURN $45 MILLION: State audit finds that district asked for reimbursements it shouldn’t have received
EVENTS: Coming up next week...
What can YOU do?

Featured Links:
4LAKids Anthology: All the Past Issues, solved, resolved and unsolved!
4LAKidsNews: a compendium of recent items of interest - news stories, scurrilous rumors, links, academic papers, rants and amusing anecdotes, etc.
With interest 4LAKids notes that neither the words "Charter Schools" nor "Mayor of Los Angeles" appear in the Eight Resolutions proposed by the newly installed Board of LAUSD Education on Tuesday.

Could it be those shots have already been fired in the revolution?

The eight resolutions of reform are short on substance and long on studies – calling for the superintendent to work out the details and report back by dates certain on Technology, Graduation Rates v. Dropout Rates, Small Schools & K-8, the Payroll Software Fiasco, A-G, Teacher Recruitment, Principal Training, Parent Involvement and English Language Learners.

At one level this is good news. Running the school district IS the Supe's job …that's why he gets the big bucks and the School Board the small ones! But LAUSD bursts at the seams with dusty bookshelves filled with unimplemented plans, studies and reports – far more than it is overstuffed with the infamous and much maligned consultants, fat-cat bureaucrats, bad teachers, ineffective principals or poor board members …though there are certainly enough of all to go around! For every perceived problem or challenge ever faced the District has an unused plan dating from every regime change, board election and superintendency. Stacked one upon the other they function as a windbreak against the winds of change.

I say "enough!"

Other words the eight resolutions don't include: CLASS SIZE REDUCTION – and if there is a magic bullet for American public education in urban settings CSR is it! In New York City $100 million has been allocated from the city treasury (an advantage of mayoral control of school districts in cities with money!) for CSR …but with over a million kids in NYC Schools that boils down to less than a hundred bucks a kid!

NYC Class limits are:
• In kindergarten, 25.
• In grades 1-3, 29.
• In grades 4-6, 32.
• In Title I middle schools, 30.
• In non-Title I middle schools, 33.
• In high schools, 34 for academic classes

In LAUSD we thankfully have 20 kids to each teacher in K-3 …but from 6th grade through 12th, class size is allowed to rise to 40 students!

Imagine 40 seventh or eighth-graders in a class! Beyond the imagining: ask a teacher or a student! Welcome to reality.

And that $100 million in NYC will only buy a class size reduction of about two students per classroom, a barely perceptible difference. And it's one time money!

The National Education Association supports a class size of 15 students in regular programs and even smaller in programs for students with exceptional needs; K through 12. And before one throws up one's hands at the Never-Neverland numbers, that size IS the norm in states like Minnesota and Wisconsin. The average class size in California was actually 22.7:1 in 2005.

The Education Commission of the States reports reducing class size is most effective when:
• Classes are reduced to between 15 and 19 students. (Little impact has been demonstrated in class sizes of 20 to 40 students.)
• Particular schools are targeted, especially those with low-achieving and low-income students
• Teachers are provided ongoing, high-quality professional development to make the most of the smaller class size conditions
• Teachers are well-qualified and a challenging curriculum is used for every student.

Do not, gentle reader, be fooled by the smoke or the mirrors: "Small Schools" are not "Smaller Class Sizes". Small Schools are good - but they are the same old overcrowded class sizes in smaller packaging. Schools in this context are administrative entities; classrooms are instructional ones.

In Florida it took a constitutional amendment to reduce class size.

In case the lesson of the past two years was missed: The LAUSD Board of Education is a political body. And advocating for such an amendment to California's Constitution would be a proper role for them, proving some real leadership. The previous eight resolutions refer to 'Parents' forty-seven times — in Parent Engagement (x3), Parent Satisfaction (x2), Parent Empowerment (x2), etc. "Parent Friendly" – inevitably a euphemism for 'dumbing down' the communication, is mentioned once. I dare say all those parents – and our brothers and sister parents up-and-down the state would support a Ninth Resolution – calling for a State Constitutional Amendment to reduce class size across the board and fund the reduction. Incorporate a Student's Bill of Rights – "every Child has the right to - and the responsibility to work towards - a Quality (not adequate!) Public Education"; and a Parent's Bill of Rights: "Every Parent has the right to be consulted and the responsibility to be involved in their child's education".

To date we have heard much about urgency; that's what Detrol® and FloMax® are for. We need action, not studies. Onward! - smf

▲The Eight Resolutions


San Diego Union Tribune from Associated Press

June 29, 2007 – LOS ANGELES – A Supreme Court decision to strike down two school integration plans has left open the question of whether the ruling would impact the nation's second-largest school district, particularly its popular magnet school program.

Attorneys for the Los Angeles Unified School District plan to defend its practice of using race as a factor in enrolling students at the district's 162 magnet programs.

They want to ask a Superior Court judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed in 2005 by the American Civil Rights Foundation. The lawsuit claimed the district's integration plan violate a voter-approved initiative that outlaws racial preferences in all public programs in California.

An attorney for the foundation said the high court's decision should affect LAUSD's integration efforts.

“This is a landmark opinion ending the use of race by public schools across the nation,” said attorney Sharon L. Browne. “Los Angeles Unified is in the same shoes as all other school districts.”

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to strike down school integration plans in Louisville, Ky., and Seattle, a decision that imperiled similar plans that hundreds of cities and counties use voluntarily to integrate their schools.

The ruling does not affect several hundred other public school districts that remain under federal court order to desegregate.

District officials contend they are exempt from the court order and the state law because they're operating under a 1981 court-ordered desegregation program.

“The Supreme Court didn't expressly outlaw state court-ordered programs,” said Peter James, an attorney for the district.

About 53,000 of the district's 708,000 students are enrolled in 162 magnet programs. About 30,000 students are on a waiting list.

The integration program also bus volunteer minority students to schools in certain parts of the city. About 3,000 students participate in this program, down from a high of about 12,000 students [ new neighborhood schools open in impacted communities. But this is nonetheless an extremely dubious definition of the word "Volunteer"! - smf]


By Mark Slavkin, from the Los Angeles Jewish Journal

July 6, 2007 — It's not yet clear whether last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision on school desegregation will affect the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), but the questions the decision raises certainly resonate across the Jewish community. In the year 2007, is desegregation still a worthy goal or is it time to move on?

As a parent of three children who have attended magnet schools in Los Angeles, this is not a theoretical concern. It's about the future of my kids.

Unlike the remarkable racial and ethnic diversity that defines Los Angeles as a city, our public school system has become increasingly homogeneous, defined by the large and growing Latino population. Just 9 percent of the total K-12 enrollment is white.

Enter the magnet school program. Many white parents value magnet schools as the only viable public school option where their child can receive a quality education and not be the only white kid in the room.

LAUSD created magnet schools in the 1970s as a strategy to promote desegregation on a voluntary basis. After the heated and divisive battles over "forced" busing (where Jews figured prominently on both sides of the issue), magnets were designed to use voluntary choice, rather than coercion, to promote integrated school environments.

This premise still holds today. These specialized school programs are often so outstanding that they inspire parents of all racial backgrounds to send their kids outside of their home neighborhoods.

Because magnet schools were created and funded as a strategy to promote desegregation, rules were established to maintain a ratio reflecting the district's larger population of white students on the one hand and kids who are among the "predominantly Hispanic, black, Asian and other non-white" populations on the other.

A lottery, based on a complicated point system, determines which applicants are accepted to each magnet school. Based on the long waiting lists and intense angst of parents who struggle to master the point system, magnet schools have proven very popular and successful.

In many parts of L.A., parents will lament that "our local school is OK, but I don't know if I'm comfortable with Johnny being the only white kid in his class." One can see how they would feel drawn to a nearby (or not so nearby) integrated magnet school, where their child is much more likely to find they are one of many white students.

In addition to providing a more integrated enrollment, the magnet schools have achieved strong academic results. Magnets are often called the "crown jewels" of LAUSD. Yet it is the very success and appeal of such magnet programs nationally that have raised the recent constitutional question about the rights of those kids who are turned away, largely because of their race.

Every year, many white students apply to specific magnet schools but are not selected, in part because the total white enrollment would fall outside the targeted ratios of the LAUSD desegregation program. This could be summarized as the "one white kid too many" scenario.

From the perspective of that child and his or her parents, they are being discriminated against because of the color of their skin. This was part of the context of the recent U.S. Supreme Court cases.

The annual lottery to admit kids to L.A. magnet schools produces winners and losers, and race is definitely a factor. I believe the larger public benefits warrant this "downside," but that is easy for me to say, as someone who has successfully placed my kids in magnet schools. But beyond the personal, there are important benefits for all from this program.

Magnet schools may be the only hope for retaining the remaining white enrollment in LAUSD. If they were to be eliminated, how many white families would make a renewed commitment to their local neighborhood school, where few other white students now attend?

To be sure, there have been some success stories where a small band of motivated parents have led efforts to "bring back the community" to their local school. But how many who do not have the benefit of such localized efforts would consider the end of magnets to be the "last straw" and follow their neighbors off to private schools? How many might move away from L.A. altogether?

By now it is fairly apparent to most observers that the future of Los Angeles will be defined by the needs and priorities of the Latino community. As Jews, we should be concerned that our large public school district serves primarily Latino kids, most of whom will never meet a Jewish child in their school careers.

Our own kids and the city as a whole are better served by an inclusive school system that is representative of the whole population. A city whose children are educated in segregated ethnic and religious enclaves will not be prepared to navigate the challenges and opportunities generated by the city's overall diversity.

While these issues are compelling in many parts of the Jewish community, they may simply be moot in the larger sense. Most Jews and other whites have already left public schools and no longer see this as their particular problem, as evidenced by the stunningly low voter turnout for the heated recent school board election in the Valley. Still, there is some irony -- and maybe even some hope -- in the fact that the winning candidate, Tamar Galatzan, is Jewish.

At the same time, civic leaders in the Latino, African American and Asian communities have also moved on from the question of desegregation. Drawing in more white students is far less important to them than securing the resources and effective instructional programs to serve kids of color.

Due to many legal complexities, it remains unclear whether the LAUSD magnet schools will be affected by the recent court ruling. But even if the status quo remains, it would be a mistake to let the issue pass without a conversation about the relationship and engagement of the Jewish community with our public schools. Looking to the future, should we press to create viable public schools as an option for our own children or is it simply too late?

• Mark Slavkin, vice president for education at the Music Center, served as a Los Angeles Board of Education member from 1989 to 1997.

MAGNETS EXPLAINED: Sandra Tsing Loh's Scandalously Informal Unauthorized Guide to LAUSD ...and the Magnet Program! [pdf]

CANDIDATES VYING TO BE TEACHERS' PET: Sen. Barack Obama backed merit pay, an unpopular concept with the NEA, but nobody booed.

by Thomas Fitzgerald, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer

Fifteen minutes before Illinois Sen. Barack Obama was scheduled to speak yesterday, teachers in the audience were crawling across the floor, trying to get closer to the lectern for a better camera angle.

When the Democratic presidential candidate finally took the stage, cheers from the delegates to the National Education Association were deafening, and nobody booed or hissed when, near the end of a 40-minute appearance, Obama endorsed the idea of merit pay for teachers.

Merit pay is a no-go for most in the teachers union - members say they are concerned it would not be implemented fairly - but Obama softened the blow by promising he would not propose "arbitrary measures" to link pay to performance.

________FROM OBAMA'S SPEECH___________

"There's no better example of this neglect than the law that has become one of the emptiest slogans in the history of politics - No Child Left Behind.

"Now, we all know that the goals of this law were the right ones. We know that making a promise to educate every child with an excellent teacher is right. We know that accountability and standards are right. We know that it's right to close the achievement gap that exists in too many cities and towns, and that it's right to focus on the inequitable distribution of resources and qualified teachers in our schools. We didn't need some words in a law to tell us this, we already knew it, and every one of us is still willing to do whatever it takes to make these goals a reality.

"But don't come up with this law called No Child Left Behind and then leave the money behind. Don't tell us that you'll put high-quality teachers in every classroom and then leave the support and the pay for those teachers behind. Don't label a school as failing one day and then throw your hands up and walk away from it the next. And don't tell us that the only way to teach a child is to spend too much of the year preparing him to fill in a few bubbles on a standardized test. We know that's not true. You didn't devote your lives to testing, you devoted them to teaching, and teaching is what you should be allowed to do.

"This is what I'll be trying to leave behind when No Child Left Behind comes before the Senate for renewal, and if we don't fix the law then, I can assure you this - I will when I'm President. Let's leave behind that empty slogan.

"But I'll also say this - fixing the worst aspects of No Child Left Behind is just a starting point. The status quo is still unacceptable for teachers and students. In the face of a global economy where too many children start behind and stay behind, this country doesn't need more blame or inaction or half-measures on education. What we need is a historic commitment to America's teachers, and that's the kind of commitment I intend to make as President."

"I want to work with teachers. I'm not going to do it to you, I'm going to do it with you," the Illinois Democrat told the crowd of 9,000 at the Convention Center. As he spoke, cameras flashed around the hall.

That faint endorsement of merit pay, on the last day of the national assembly, was the only deviation from the buttering-up attendees got this week from Obama, six other Democratic candidates for president, and one Republican. Everybody was for higher teacher pay, financial incentives to lure teachers to low-achieving rural and urban districts, smaller class sizes, and a retooling of the No Child Left Behind law that requires states to measure student performance with standardized tests.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a conservative Republican, brought the crowd to its feet with his call for every student to have access to music and art classes in every grade. Many creative-arts programs nationally have been cut as schools try to hike student performance in math and reading to comply with the law.

"We're leaving a lot of kids' talents behind by denying them the opportunity to experience their creative self and to have a complete education," Huckabee said. "An education is more than simply a data download from an information source to a kid's brain."

He also drew cheers by proposing to "unleash weapons of mass instruction" and calling an uneducated population "a form of terror."

Huckabee was a novelty. The NEA has long been a part of the Democratic coalition, and union members made up 10 percent of the delegates to the party's national convention in 2004, the largest single bloc. Internal polling of the membership estimates that about 25 percent of the union's 3.2 million members identify themselves as Republicans, 48 percent as Democrats, and the balance as independent.

"I know there are some who think a Republican coming to the NEA is like Michael Moore going to the NRA," Huckabee said, "but I'm proud to be here."

In an interview afterward, Huckabee said he would be skeptical of merit pay for teachers unless there were a more thorough way to measure student progress than standardized tests. He did not sign on to the unanimous position of the Democrats who visited the convention that the federal government should "fully fund" NCLB, with infusions of cash to help states meet the standards.

"I don't want the federal government funding every part of education," Huckabee said.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.) mentioned an amendment he sponsored with Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) to require equal funding for schools in rich and poor school districts. "If you want to hold every school accountable to the same test, make sure you spend the same amount of money on every kid," he said, to wild cheers.

Biden said that by repealing a tax cut that benefits the wealthiest Americans, he could generate $7 billion to fund universal preschool, establish incentives to increase teacher pay, reduce class sizes, and increase access to college with fatter Pell grants to which more middle-class students would be entitled.

"We know that college is on the verge of becoming a luxury good, unattainable to the middle class," he said.

No Child Left Behind, the Bush administration's signature education policy, was the villain for all the candidates but Huckabee, who said that it had accomplished "some good" by focusing attention on the needs of students but that the law needed to be made more flexible.

The weeklong parade of candidates before the teachers union presented a relatively rare campaign opportunity for the discussion of education issues, though the candidates appeared separately and did not debate. "Iraq has sucked all the oxygen out of the room and money out of the budget," Biden said in an interview.

"THESE KIDS": complete text of Obama's speech to the NEA


Marc Lampkin – The Huffington Post

July 7, 2007 - If there is any advantage to our nation's prolonged presidential campaign season, it is the increased number of opportunities to hear detailed, issue-focused answers from the candidates. However, of the 440 questions asked during the first four Democratic and Republican debates, only one has touched on education.

This election was long overdue for a discussion on America's schools and the Democratic presidential debate at Howard University last Thursday night proved that Americans are ready for real talk from candidates about exactly what they plan to do to make America's schools stronger. The Howard forum was a good but modest start in drawing out the kind of thoughtfulness we need from the candidates on this issue.

Those of us working on the bi-partisan ED in '08 campaign know that education is an issue that affects Americans today, tomorrow, and 50 years from now. We applaud the sponsors and moderators for initiating earnest conversation about education, but last night was only a beginning. In many cases, their answers weren't enough.

Some candidates chose to talk about K-12 education, but many of the responses centered on early childhood programs and universal pre-kindergarten. In order to truly lead on this issue, our presidential candidates need to pay just as much attention--if not more--to K-12 education. Yes, high-quality pre-K can boost readiness for school, but readiness for college, careers, and life depends on strong elementary, middle, and high schools.

According to the American Educational Research Association, "even significant academic effects [from high-quality pre-K] tend to diminish over time, especially if children end up in poor-quality elementary and high schools." Further, a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research stated that "Children most likely to suffer fade-out in test score gains [from pre-K programs] are also most likely to attend the worst quality schools. This result suggests that gains from early intervention can be maintained as long as subsequent schooling is not of the worst quality."

For a debate centered on the impact of issues on African Americans, in front of an audience of largely comprised of African Americans, the candidates missed an opportunity by not specifically providing their plans to address these facts:

Only about half of the nation's Black and Latino students graduate on time from high school. Only one out of ten Black eighth graders reads at a proficient level, and only half have been taught to read at even the most basic level. By the time they near graduation, Black and Latino teenagers have math and reading skills that are no higher than those of White middle school students.

Teachers in high-minority schools are about almost twice as likely to be inexperienced as teachers in low-minority schools.

Minority families are crying out for leadership on education and deserve to hear how candidates will improve K-12 schools so every student has a chance to succeed in college, careers, and life.

Early childhood education is important, but it's no silver bullet. Elementary and secondary school quality is critical to sustain long-term gains for all American students. Candidates need to offer comprehensive plans to dramatically strengthen K-12 schools, including rigorous American education standards, effective teachers in every classroom, and more time and support for learning.

This isn't just a Democratic issue or a Republican one. Gov. Roy Romer, my colleague on the Democratic side and chair of Strong American Schools, also believes that our next president needs to do more for America's students.

Anyone who agrees should visit us at and join our movement to strengthen and improve American schools.

▲ Marc Lampkin is the Executive Director of Strong American Schools, an unprecedented national public awareness and action campaign aimed at elevating education to the top of the nation’s domestic priorities during the 2008 presidential election and beyond. The campaign is being funded with contributions of up to $60 million by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Visit to find out more.

Marc joined Quinn Gillespie & Associates in February 2001 after spending two years serving in a variety of roles with the Bush for President campaign, including Deputy Campaign Manager. He later organized and ran Americans for Better Education (ABE), a coalition educators, reform advocates, and corporations that support President Bush's education reform plan.

► Two things. FIRST: Lampkin and others go on about Black and Latino students "graduating on time"; I count any graduate, at any time, of any color, race or creed a success. We need to get real: half of all students are below average just as sure as half are above average. We want all students to succeed but it is a difficult curriculum – especially if one gets off a poor start or needs to learn a new language. In LAUSD we say a student must qualify for admission California State University AND pass the exit exam to get a diploma. There is a name for a student who takes five years to make the grade. That name is "High School Graduate".

SECOND: 4LAKids is all for raising the education debate in the presidential race – but it needs raising above and beyond the NEA convention! That number: 1 of 440 questions asked so far says to me that Romer, Lampkin and Edin08's arguments are not being heard …and that Bill, Melinda, Eli and Edythe's investment in the politics of education may be a little bearish. – smf



by Paul Clinton, Staff Writer - Daily Breeze

July 6, 2007 — The new Los Angeles Unified school board member representing the Harbor Area and South Bay says he won't support a new school in Wilmington that would wipe out a city block, several homes and popular businesses.

Instead, Richard Vladovic says he wants the LAUSD to build an elementary school on the site of a self-storage center across from Banning Park.

Vladovic, who took office Tuesday, asked the district's facilities division to reconsider a site initially favored by Councilwoman Janice Hahn but rejected by district planners.

If successful, the site - which will be studied alongside the current "preferred" site in an environmental review - would provoke less community resistance, Vladovic and Hahn said.

The move would also reverse plans for a school several years in the making. The board has already approved a school for Avalon Boulevard and L Street, set aside $90 million for land acquisition and construction, and in early June gave the district approval to make offers to property owners. In addition to 11 homes, the site includes a popular Latino market and one of the area's few banks.

Vladovic has also asked the district to reduce the scope of the project, which had been proposed to include kindergarten through eighth grade.

The middle-school component isn't as pressing a need, Vladovic said, even though almost 2,300 students attend Wilmington Middle School, the only public campus in town with grades six through eight.

"The purpose of the school is to relieve overcrowding in elementary schools," he said. "I don't want to take the heart out of Wilmington."

Vladovic said a middle school could be constructed later.

If built, several year-round elementary schools in Wilmington - Broad Avenue, Gulf Avenue and Hawaiian Avenue elementary schools - could return to a traditional calendar.

Vladovic and Hahn view the storage site as one that's preferred by the community. Hahn had butted heads with former board member Mike Lansing and district planners over the school's location.

"We think it's a great location because it doesn't take homes or businesses," Hahn said. "It deserves another look."

The hot-dog shaped site isn't a traditional square school parcel, but Dolores Street Elementary in Carson and 135th Street Elementary in Garden have similar configurations.

LAUSD TOLD TO RETURN $45 MILLION: State audit finds that district asked for reimbursements it shouldn’t have received

by Harrison Sheppard, Staff Writer, Daily News

July 7, 2007 - SACRAMENTO - Los Angeles Unified took another budget hit Thursday as California's controller said the district must return about $45 million it never should have claimed from the state.

Over four years, the district filed claims for and received $46.6 million in state money under the Pupil Promotion and Retention Program.

But state Controller John Chiang said an audit showed $45.4 million of the requests were unjustified and the money must be returned.

"In essence, they got an interest-free loan from the taxpayers of California," Chiang, a Torrance native, said in an interview. "Obviously they need to clean up their procedures so they don't jeopardize the operations of their responsibility to provide kids with a world-class education.

"They need to get their financial house in order."

District officials concurred with the audit's findings and acknowledged they made mistakes. They said they have opted for the money to be withheld from future state payments rather than repaying the money now.

But the audit's findings could exacerbate the district's current financial problems.

The school board was recently forced to cut about 500 positions in 2007-08 to help make up a $95 million shortfall in its $6.2 billion budget.

District officials said the results of the audit - and the withholding of future reimbursements - would not cause immediate financial problems.

They said the Legislature's record of providing reimbursements to local districts is so sporadic that they did not count on receiving additional state money in this year's budget anyway.

They also said the district received $70 million in state reimbursements last year, and decided to set those funds aside pending the controller's audit.

LAUSD Budget Director Roger Rasmussen said the district decided to be cautious because many others have had problems with the controller seeking the return of reimbursed funds.

"We knew at the time that because of this history with the state controller that some of the money we received might end up eventually being disallowed," Rasmussen said.

"We reserved most of the cash we got in the fall of 2006, and we said don't spend this money until we've actually passed through this audit.

"We were being prudent in recognizing that some of the money we've been paid might be taken back."

The Pupil Promotion and Retention Program requires districts to maintain additional programs to help less-proficient students pass their grade-level requirements, such as summer school and supplemental instruction during the school year.

Because it was a mandate on local districts, the state provides reimbursements for costs incurred by the program.

The audit was triggered when the Commission on State Mandates noticed that the level of reimbursement to LAUSD was far out of proportion to that claimed by other school districts around the state.

Chiang's office reviewed LAUSD's claims for reimbursement for July 1, 1997, through June 30, 1999, and July 1, 2001 through June 30, 2003. There were no claims filed in between those two periods.

The audit found that most of the claims were unsupported by evidence or documentation and appeared to be ineligible for reimbursement.

According to the report, LAUSD officials had earlier told the Commission on State Mandates when they filed the initial paperwork that they intended at some point to file amended claims after they finished an internal study.

When Chiang's staff began working on the audit in May 2006, the district presented auditors copies of undated amendments that they said they had filed with the state more than a year ago.

Those amended documents acknowledged that at least $39 million in claims should not have been filed.

But the auditors could not find any copies of those claims on file with the state commission.

A week later, LAUSD admitted "amended claims might not have been filed, due to an inadvertent oversight by its consultant responsible for filing the amended claims," the audit said.

If the audit had not been conducted, LAUSD might have retained those funds, even through district officials themselves had already realized they should never have requested the payments in the first place.

LAUSD General Counsel Kevin Reed said both the consultant and the key employee involved in the claims have not worked for the district for several years.

Reed said he did not know whether they left or were dismissed, or whether it was related to problems with the state claims.

"We had consultants that were very aggressive in what they put in and did not have the appropriate documentation," Reed said.

"The auditors are incredibly aggressive," he added. "They look for documentation on things that are inherently incredibly difficult to document."

In addition to the $39 million the district realized it should have cut from its own claims, the Controller's Office found at least five other cases of improper claim filings.

The discrepancies included instances when the district filed for expenses incurred at grade levels that were not eligible for reimbursement.

For example, the district submitted claims for about $4.7 million in summer-session costs for preschool through grade 6. However, that particular state program was intended only for grades 7 through 12.

In other instances, the district asked to be reimbursed for expenses that were incurred during the normal course of the school day - contrary to the intent of the program, which was to fund costs incurred outside of normal school operating expenses.

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
Tuesday July 10, 2007
10:00 a.m - Regular Meeting of the Board of Education
Board Room - 333 Beaudry Ave.

Thursday July 12, 2007
Central Region Elementary School #19 : Pre-Construction Meeting
6:00 p.m. - Hammel Elementary School
438 N. Brannick Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90063

*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
Phone: 213-241-5183
Phone: 213-893-6800


What can YOU do?
• E-mail, call or write your school board member: • 213-241-6383 • 213-241-6387 • 213-241-6386 • 213-241-6180 • 213-241-6388 • 213-241-6385

...or your city councilperson, mayor, the governor, member of congress, senator - or the president. Tell them what you really think! • There are 26 mayors and five county supervisors representing jurisdictions within LAUSD, the mayor of LA can be reached at • 213.978.0600
• Call or e-mail Governor Schwarzenegger: 213-897-0322 e-mail:
• Open the dialogue. Write a letter to the editor. Circulate these thoughts. Talk to the principal and teachers at your local school.
• Speak with your friends, neighbors and coworkers. Stay on top of education issues. Don't take my word for it!
• Get involved at your neighborhood school. Join your PTA. Serve on a School Site Council. Be there for a child.
• Register.
• Vote.

Who are your elected federal & state representatives? How do you contact them?

Scott Folsom is a parent and parent leader in LAUSD. He is immediate past President of Los Angeles 10th District PTSA and represents PTA as Vice-chair the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee. He serves on various school district advisory and policy committees and is a PTA officer and/or governance council member at three LAUSD schools. He is also the elected Youth & Education boardmember on the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council.
• In this forum his opinions are his own and your opinions and feedback are invited. Quoted and/or cited content copyright © the original author and/or publisher. All other material copyright © 4LAKids.
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