Sunday, May 25, 2014

“We trust that the Board of Education intends to execute its duties in a transparent and equitable manner.”

Onward! 4LAKids4LAKids: Sunday 25•May•2014 Memorial Day Weekend
In This Issue:
 • THE END OF “TEACHER JAIL” AS WE KNOW IT: In new LAUSD policy, ‘jailed’ teachers to serve time at home
 • HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
 • EVENTS: Coming up next week...
 • What can YOU do?

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The Board of Ed met on Tuesday and only had one possibly controversial item on its agenda (beyond the increasingly routine and personally tragic teacher firings and pupil expulsions) - and the controversy was of process over substance: They were set to hire a new Arts Education director. This was to be done in secret for secrecy’s sake – filling a job opening never posted with a candidate never publicly interviewed for a job description never disclosed …the done-deal done behind closed doors.

The good news is the secret candidate just might be the right guy for the job.
Q: Who knows?A: Superintendent Deasy knows! Q: What could possibly go wrong?

For the answer to the second question go to the link at the bottom of this article and watch the video. A 4LAKids correspondent advises to “Start it at 8:30, turn your volume up and pay more attention to the words and actions of the members who are OFF mic, rather than the ones who are ON-mic, right up to the point where Ms Galatzan says, ‘Jeff, I'm confused’."

The “receive+file” confirmation of the appointment of a parent volunteer to a District committee gone horribly wrong: The board overreaching/overreacting – the upstart volunteer publicly excoriated for daring to question the superintendent’s policy and the board’s infinite wisdom.

A bit of Machiavellian politics and just plain Schoolyard Bullying from the Boardroom played out by six boardmembers and their superintendent that proves Mark Twain’s edict: “First God created idiots; that was for practice. Then He created school boards.”

How dare he? He’s only an architect …he’s only a parent! 

It’s a pattern played out before. Picking+choosing the ‘right’ volunteers to serve on advisory committees – compliant folk who take-rather-than-provide-advice, dispensing with the troublemakers+questioners – sometimes ignoring and/or dissolving the committees themselves. Does the Title I District Advisory Committee ring a bell? The Parent Collaborative? The late lamented Focus on Student Achievement Council? It’s going on now with the Local Control Funding Formula Parent Advisory Committee. “Thank you for your service, your three minutes of parent engagement are up.”

HENRY II: "What sluggards, what cowards have I brought up in my court, who care nothing for their allegiance to their lord? Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?"

Henry created a martyr; his attempt at reform was crushed - his place in history is stained with Becket’s blood.

THE BOARD MEETING STARTED AT 9AM. I was in Sacramento minding everybody else’s business at a PTA legislative confab. By 9:20 my phone was vibrating, the tweets were tweeting and text messages and emails abounded.

In quick succession:

1. After being moved by Ms. Garcia and seconded by Mr. Zimmer the board votes to reconfirm two Bond Oversight Committee members, as recommended by the superintendent. And moves to the next item, which is public comment. (The students who eventually get to address the board on hydration stations do a great job!)
2. Wait a minute! …what just happened? Ms. Galatzan changes her mind and changes her vote on the previous item – blaming the agenda paperwork - and proceeds to attack one of the BOC members she just voted to confirm – the architect – although she doesn’t know/remember his name.
3. Ms. Garcia agrees with Ms. Galatzan …she too was confused by the agenda, even though she moved the item:

Item #7. Reappointment of Members to the School Construction Bond Oversight Committee (Sup Res4)
(Postponed from May 13, 2014 Board Meeting)

Resolved, That the Governing Board of the Los Angeles Unified School District ratifies the reappointment of Mr. Stuart Magruder, representing the American Institute of Architects, and Mr. Barry Waite, representing the California Tax Reform Association, as Members to the School Construction Bond Oversight Committee for two-year terms commencing on May 8, 2014. The Board determines that Mr. Magruder and Mr. Waite are not employees, officials, vendors, contractors, or consultants of the District

4. Dr. Deasy helps Ms. Galatzan in identifying the name of the meddlesome architect: Stuart Magruder. Galatzan continues to complain about Magruder, alleging that he will only vote for projects that have “architectural services” attached to them – and further he questions issues of educational content upon which he is unqualified to opine. “We can find other people in our vast community who will be more open minded.”
5. Board president Vladovic leaves the chair and Mr. Zimmer takes over.
6. Mr. Zimmer attempts to clarify what is becoming a murky quagmire. Secretary Crain establishes that it is now a divided vote and the motion on the floor is to approve the second appointee, Barry Waite, only.
7. Mr. Kayser asks for more detail on the process of nomination and appointment.
8. Dr. Deasy begins to distance himself from the action – his recommendation was not an endorsement of the candidates. 
9. Mr. Zimmer states that it is his belief that proposed the board action is a ratification of another agency’s appointment, not an approval.
10. Dr. Deasy is unsure of who the appointing authority is, echoing Ms. Galatzan’s language of “Architectural Services”.
11. Dr. V returns to chair and says he doesn’t know what the issue is – but thanks Ms. Galatzan for ‘doing her homework’ – admits he hasn’t done his – sides with Galatzan and Garcia …and enthusiastically endorses Mr. Waite. 
12. The vote is taken: Galatzan, Garcia, Vladovic and Kayser vote Yes. Mr. Zimmer votes No – apparently in opposition to the divide+conquer. Ms Ratliff abstains – presumabaly reacting to the confusion. Mr. Waite is confirmed.
13. Mr. Crain says that Bond Oversight staff might be available at the end of the closed session to revisit the Magruder nomination. When the board returns from closed session BOC staff, their attorney and Stuart Magruder are present. They are not allowed to be heard.
14. A vote up or down on Mr. Magruder is never taken, his reappointment quashed – his term on the BOC ended.

• One can say that Ms. Galatzan and Dr. Deasy won on Tuesday. The most vocal critic of the ill-conceived Common Core Technology Project/iPad program has been effectively removed from the Oversight Committee. (Until this mischief played out I probably would have used the adjective “poorly-conceived” in the previous sentence; I now find myself inclined towards the metaphorical “bastard-stepchild”.
• One can also say that the concept of Independent Oversight lost on Tuesday. One can certainly say that the voters and taxpayers lost.
• Dr. Deasy told the press he is not taking sides.

The Bond Oversight Committee and the L.A. chapter of the American Institute of Architects are not going to accept this turn of events lying down; the Board of Ed has exceeded its authority under the law. This will not stand. The AIA/LA wrote in re-nominating Magruder: “When the passage of Proposition 39 in 2000 led to the provision of the Education Code that required that the Board of Education appoint all BOC members, we and the other stakeholders agreed to the Memorandum of Understanding between the District and the BOC that, while the formal appointment would be done by the Board as a receive and file, the Board would faithfully appoint the nominee of each stakeholder group. We trust that the Board of Education intends to execute its duties in a transparent and equitable manner.”

The vocabulary of conflict is unfortunately in play. Lines in the sand have been drawn. A battle between the Board of Education and the superintendent and the Bond Oversight Committee has been joined; unless cooler heads prevail this could escalate to war. If fought it will be over the future of the LAUSD building and modernization program and over the $7+ billion in school bonds remaining unspent. It will not be pretty.

IN THE INTEREST OF FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a member of the Bond Oversight Committee.

I am the longest serving and most senior member. I have been an appointee of Los Angeles Tenth District PTA on-and-off – serving for over a dozen years. I was there when the Memorandum of Understanding - the operative agreement establishing the BOC and governing the relationship between the BOC, the District and the Board of Education - was negotiated with LAUSD and the Board of Education. The MOU clearly states that the appointing authority is the appointing authority – and that the Board of Education shall accept the appointment if the appointee is qualified – and those qualifications are that the appointee is not an employee, official, contractor, vendor or consultant of the District. 

The vote of the Board is to confirm the qualifications, not approve the appointment. 
“3.1.8. The Board shall appoint one member nominated by the American Institute of Architects, Los Angeles Chapter.”

Much is ambiguous in contract law and in legal definition. But the meaning of “shall” is unchanged since Exodus. ‘Shall’ means you have to do it!

The independent appointing authorities are: The Mayor of Los Angeles, The City Controller, The County Auditor, PTA, a senior citizens group (AARP), a representative of a charter school group, a taxpayers organization, the Early Childhood Ed Coalition, the Chamber of Commerce, a representative from the general contractors, a representative from the building trade unions and a representative from the Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Additionally the Board of Education gets to select and appoint two parents of LAUSD students. Some of these appointing authorities – like PTA and the taxpayers group - are stipulated in the State Law that governs school bonds. Others were established by the Board of Ed when they passed the first BB Bond and created the first Bond Oversight Committee in 1997. The make-up of the committee has changed slightly over the years by mutual consent of the board and the committee. 

The issue is that of Independent Oversight – and independence cannot/will not be maintained if the Board can approve or disapprove its overseers.

Independent Oversight was and continues to be the promise made to the voters and taxpayers and all the stakeholders from community members, teachers, district employees, parents and past, present and future students of the District - when we passed all the school facilities bonds from BB to K, R, Y and Q. 

Ms. Galatzan says Stuart goes too far in opining on instructional issues – and in other times and circumstances I might agree. But in the Deasy administration bond funds are being used to purchase instructional materials and therefore Stuart’s and the Bond Oversight Committee’s opinions are entirely relevant.

I do not agree with Stuart Magruder on some issues; I don’t have to. He is the appointee of the AIA/LA and as long as he has their faith and confidence he is their representative. 

THERE IS A LAY PREACHER WHO REGULARLY MAKES PUBLIC COMMENT AT BOC AND BOARD MEETINGS and preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ as he believes it – he forecasts everlasting damnation if we don’t change our ways. If he’s right, we’re toast. I’ve spoken with him, he’s a nice guy and he is genuinely concerned about my soul and Tamar’s and Dr Deasy’s and Stuart’s and all of us. We may not be listening and we may not be saved - but the National Cemeteries are filled - and battlefields around the globe are stained with the blood of those who gave their lives and/or sacrificed their youth so that he could say those things and the rest of us could ignore him.

“Happy Memorial Day” may be inappropriate; we should remember and teach our children that the happiness we pursue is a gift from others.

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf

VIDEO: The Open Part of the Closed Session Board Meeting of 20th (Click on Item #7)

Posted on LA School Report by Vanessa Romo |

May 20, 2014 4:00 pm :: What is normally a routine, no-questions-asked formality for the LA Unified School Board hit a snag today.

Board Member Tamar Galatzan opposed the reappointment of Stuart Magruder, an outspoken critic of the use of bond money for iPads, from the School Construction Bond Oversight Committee (BOC).

The board effectively blocked Magruder’s reappointment by removing him from a resolution. That will leave the 15 member BOC, an independent body formed to oversee bond money used to build and repair schools, with an empty seat.

“It’s not unprecedented but this doesn’t usually happen,” Jefferson Crain, LA Unified Board Secretariat, said of the board’s move.

[●● smf: It IS unprecedented!]

An architect, Magruder has served one term as an appointee nominated by the American Institute of Architects Association. Throughout his tenure, he has strongly opposed the use of bond funds for buying instructional materials including the district’s controversial and expensive iPad program.

Speaking out against Magruder, Galatzan said, “I just don’t think he’s the right person for that role. I think he’s overstepped his bounds…I think he’s overstepped his expertise on the Bond Oversight Committee.”

She told the board, who had just minutes earlier approved the reappointment, that Magruder often used his time during BOC meetings to expound on curriculum and instruction matters, and she urged her colleagues to rescind their support.

“I’m not going to be supporting him and I think we can find other people in our vast community who are a little more open-minded,” Galatzan said.

At a BOC meeting in March Magruder said, “We are spending roughly a $100 million on software for the iPads, which I guess is supposed to be a text book, which is actually not really being used very much as far as I can tell with my daughter’s experience at Palms Middle School.”

“That to me is really problematic,” he continued. “We’re throwing away $100 million on something that is not being used and is certainly not something we’re supposed to be paying for with construction bond funds.” (see video here)

Magruder’s term expired on May 8. However, a lawyer for the group suggested they are seeking alternatives for resubmitting Magruder for consideration.

In a 4-1 vote, the board agreed to reappoint Barry Waite, of the California Tax Reform Association to the BOC. Board member Monica Ratliff abstained while Board member Steve Zimmer was the only dissenting vote.

The board did not take any other actions during the board meeting.



By Annie Gilbertson | Pass / Fail | 89.3 KPCC HTTP://BIT.LY/1JBGMXU

May 21st, 2014, 5:38pm :: The architect tossed off a Los Angeles Unified School District oversight committee Tuesday is fighting to be reinstated.

The school board voted to remove Stuart Magruder, an outspoken critic of the district's iPad program, from a list of renewal appointments on the committee that oversees how bond funds are spent. Those voter-approved bonds have been the principal funding source for Superintendent John Deasy's $1 billion one-to-one tablet initiative.

School officials have said bond funds can be spent on technology upgrades.

But Magruder said voters clearly meant for the $19 billion loans to be used to maintain and build schools, not to buy "the modern equivalent of pencils and paper." He said his ouster was political retribution.

"It drastically calls into question the independence of the committee," he said in an interview.

On Wednesday, the American Institute of Architects asked the school board — nicely — to reconsider his reappointment, given that the committee's founding documents give the institute to a guaranteed seat on the committee.

"According to the charter memorandum of understanding, the school board shall appointment one member nominated by the American Institute of Architects Los Angeles chapter and our nominee is Stuart Magruder," said Nicci Solomons, the Executive Director of the American Institute of Architects, Los Angeles chapter.

The lawyer for the Bond Oversight Committee said the school board has violated the contract. The Memorandum of understanding states the school board "shall" appointment the the institute's nominee after confirming the person has no conflicts of interest.

L.A. Unified officials said Margruder does not benefit financially from school building projects.

At a mostly closed school board meeting Tuesday, member Tamar Galatzan moved to have Magruder name removed from the reappointment list, voicing concerns about his employment as an architect. Board member Steve Zimmer was the only dissenting vote, and Monica Ratliff abstained.

“I believe Stuart Magruder has overstepped his role as the American Institute of Architects representative to the BOC, and I cannot vote for his reappointment," Galatzan said in a written statement emailed to KPCC Wednesday.

Zimmer did not return calls for comment.

In addition to his criticism of the iPad program, Magruder has called into question Galatzan's discretionary use bond funds.

He raised issue with her request for $290,000 for computers at specific schools in her district. Since 2011, school board members have spent about $4.5 million of discretionary bond funds on computers not related to the iPad program. Tw0-thirds of that money went to Galatzan's district, which represents the middle- and upper-class West San Fernando Valley.

Magruder argued the money would be better spent on building repairs, which officials estimate will cost $13 billion over the next fifteen years, much more than the remaining bond funds.

Magruder's position won him some fans, including teachers who formed a Facebook group called "Repairs, not iPads." They have protested the district's spending choices when schools still have to deal with broken toilets and leaky facets.

Matthew Kogan, the L.A. Unified teacher who heads the group, called Magruder's removal an exercise of "unchecked powers."

"I think it shows a disregard for our democratic institutions," Kogan said.

The group has taken to twitter to protest, posting a video documenting Magruder's critique of the iPad program made earlier this year.


By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times |

May 22, 2014, 901 PM :: The Los Angeles Board of Education this week acted against a critic of its controversial iPad program by refusing to reappoint him to a key review panel, the latest of several actions that could limit scrutiny of the project.

On Tuesday, a board majority removed Stuart Magruder as a nominee for a second, two-year term on the Bond Oversight Committee, which analyzes and votes on spending from school-construction bonds. The L.A. Unified School District is using more than $1 billion from these bonds to pay for providing a computer to every student, teacher and school administrator.

Board member Tamar Galatzan said she opposed Magruder because he overstepped his role.

"He's an architect and ... has made many forays into telling the instructional people how to do instruction," Galatzan said at the Tuesday meeting. "I think it's inappropriate. I don't think that's what his expertise is."
Galatzan confirmed later that she was referring to some of Magruder's challenges of the iPad project.

lNearly a year go, the board approved an iPad contract that was expected to expand districtwide. But the fall rollout at 47 schools was plagued by difficulties, such as inadequate wireless Internet and inconsistent policies on who was responsible for the costly devices. Early on, students at three high schools deleted security filters so they could browse the Web freely. Officials also have come under fire for misstating costs and terms of the contract with Apple, which makes the iPad.

In an interview, Magruder, 47, defended his inquiries, saying officials needed to justify the huge expenditure.

"They claim there's good pedagogical support for having iPads everywhere for all grades but they haven't been able to provide any support for that," he said.

"It is also clear to me that the district was not really prepared to launch this initiative and have it add value to the classroom," said Magruder, who has two children attending district schools.

Eventually, the district responded to critics by slowing down the districtwide expansion and by trying out laptops as an alternative to iPads in high school.

Galatzan also accused Magruder of voting against any project that did not use architects. Magruder denied that.

The oversight committee grew out of attempts, in the 1990s, to pass school-construction bonds for relieving overcrowding and repairing dilapidated campuses. They also can be used for technology.

The first bond election failed. On the next try, officials added the oversight committee to enhance voter confidence. That bond passed, as have several since. The 15 committee members are unpaid, and their votes are not binding on the district.

Certain groups have had the right to name a member to the panel, including the county Federation of Labor. Another organization with a seat is the local branch of the American Institute of Architects, which chose Magruder two years ago.

Until this week, the school board has never rejected a nominee from a designated outside group, said Tom A. Rubin, the consultant for the bond panel.

During the meeting, Galatzan proposed approving only a second nominee, Barry Waite, whose nomination by a taxpayer-rights group also was before the board. Monica Garcia voted with Galatzan without comment. Galatzan and Garcia were the staunchest backers of the original iPad plan.

Joining them was board President Richard Vladovic.

"I'm going to go with my colleague, who seems to be very knowledgeable," Vladovic said of Galatzan.
Bennett Kayser also voted with them, but only to support Waite. He said later that he also would back Magruder. Steve Zimmer voted no, objecting to the exclusion of Magruder, and Monica Ratliff abstained. The seventh board seat is temporarily vacant.

In denying Magruder, the board acted improperly, said civil rights attorney Robert Garcia, who chaired the oversight body from 2000 to 2005. He said district officials had signed a legally binding agreement to ratify the selections of the outside groups.

Galatzan said she was not aware of the earlier agreement.

"If we couldn't vote no, why else would it be brought to us?" she said.

L.A. Unified general counsel David Holmquist insisted that the board retains the right to reject nominees.

Current oversight chairman Stephen English is out of the country, but sent word that he intended to resubmit Magruder's nomination, said committee consultant Rubin.

The architect's group also is standing behind Magruder.

L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy, who was frequently at odds with the panel over the iPads, said he is not taking sides.

District officials have taken other steps that critics said would limit public review of the technology project. In January, Vladovic announced the impending end of an internal technology committee headed by Ratliff. More recently, officials refused to release the findings of an internal investigation into the project.



By Karin Klein, L.A. Times Editorialist in Opinion LA |

May 23, 2014, 1:02 PM :: The Los Angeles Unified School District needs more independent-minded people who question its initiatives, not fewer. The school board made a mistake with its refusal to reappoint a member of the Bond Oversight Committee who had opposed the use of bond funds to pay for iPads for every student.

There should be more people raising concerns about this sort of bond expenditure, though other school districts in the state have gotten away with doing the same thing. It’s completely justifiable to use bond money to upgrade schools for wi-fi capacity, which is where $500 million of the money would go. But there should be serious doubts in the public’s mind about using bonds to purchase computing devices that last a few years. Voters agreed to tax themselves on the understanding that the billions of dollars were to be used to build and repair schools, or make other capital expenditures that would last for at least a couple of decades, which is how long it takes to pay off the bonds.

Of course, as we all know now, the iPad program was so rushed, with too few of the important questions asked or answered, that it immediately ran into trouble. Some of those early problems have been fixed, or at least addressed. Among them was the higher-than-average price, and the district’s use of bond money to buy curriculum with its iPads, curriculum that hadn’t even been fully written when it was purchased. Bond funding is not supposed to be used for curriculum purchase. The price of the devices has since been reduced, with the curriculum no longer part of the package deal.

And the iPad purchase has been slowed, with a smaller buy-in at the start and a more purposeful build-up. That might involve a mix of devices instead of the original approach of an iPad for every student and teacher. High school students did not find the tablets as useful as laptops, for example.

These were the kinds of questions that Stuart Magruder, an architect on the Bond Oversight Committee, was raising when too many others were just going along. The board should have been glad to have a member of the committee doing exactly what the panel is supposed to do: carefully vet the use of bond money to ensure that it is properly and prudently spent.

Instead, the board refused a second term for Magruder, the first time it has refused to confirm a candidate from one of the outside groups that have been designated to nominate an oversight member. Magruder was the choice of the American Institute of Architects. In fact, it’s not entirely certain that the board was within its rights on the vote; some experts argue that the district signed a legally binding agreement to ratify these outside nominees. The district’s legal people say no.

But even if it wasn’t a legal mistake, it was a tactical one. Tamar Galatzan, who initiated the move to reject Magruder, has been the iPad program’s most enthusiastic supporter and has never asked the important questions about this planned expenditure of more than $1 billion. She and other board members should be glad that someone is asking. That's not to say Magruder is always right, or that he has framed his concerns in the most politic ways. The important point is that the district doesn't need more yes men. It should be grateful for the people who raise doubts; only by allaying those doubts with satisfying answers will it know that it's on the right path.

THE END OF “TEACHER JAIL” AS WE KNOW IT: In new LAUSD policy, ‘jailed’ teachers to serve time at home

by Michael Janofsky, Managing Editor , LA School Report |

May 22, 2014, 12:43 pm :: In a major policy shift, the LA Unified school district will no longer require teachers under investigation to report to so-called “teacher jails.”

Instead, teachers will be allowed to go home, with the understanding that they must remain there during their working hours unless they are summoned elsewhere as part of the investigation. The shift ends a controversial practice that required teachers facing an investigation to report to a district regional center or the downtown headquarters building and sit idle for hours in a room. The change will begin on May 27.

“We’ve done this a number of times with some teachers over the years, and it has worked,” the district’s chief counsel, David Holmquist, said in an interview. “We felt like the effort had not caused any problems so it was a good time to expand to all teachers on administrative leave.”

The policy change was done administratively and did not require school board approval. The issue has not even come before the board in recent meetings although member Tamar Galatzan suggested home housing in a March resolution to improve the process by which teachers are investigated.

Alex Caputo-Pearl, the incoming president of the teachers union, UTLA, called the change “positive in that it will ameliorate some of the horrible conditions that educators face in the actual ‘teacher jail’ rooms.”

“However,” he said, “we need LAUSD to move aggressively to restore stability to students and due process to educators by allowing the vast majority of educators currently housed, who are no danger to their students, to return to their schools.”

Caputo-Pearl takes over from Warren Fletcher on July 1.

Currently, Holmquist said, 251 employees are out of their schools and classrooms while the district investigates charges against them. In the past, he said, “about 10 to 15 percent” of teachers in “jail” have been allowed to remain at home.

The change in policy saves the district money in eliminating the need for personnel to supervise “jailed” teachers and in clearing space in rooms that can now be used for other purposes.

“Teacher jails” has been one of the most troublesome issues for the teachers union. During the recent union elections, all the presidential candidates were united in expressing disdain for them, calling for their end and for the investigations to be faster and more transparent.

Holmquist said school districts are generally an anomaly among government agencies in having employees on paid leave report to a building during an investigation. Most agencies, he said, have their employees remain at home.

“We share the union’s concern that investigations should be conducted more expeditiously, and we’re hiring more investigators to expedite the process,” Holmquist said, adding that for the change in policy, “Overall, we felt this was the best thing to do.”

By Howard Blume, LA Times |

MAY 20, 2014, 6:15 PM :: The leader of one of the nation's top arts high schools has accepted the job of leading arts education for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Rory Pullens, 56, has served as head of school and chief executive at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C.

Pullens had been recruited by the nation's second-largest school system for several years. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy said he was "thrilled."

"He brings an extraordinary background in the arts along with a string of astounding successes in his previous posts," Deasy said.

Previously, Pullens had twice accepted a job heading L.A.'s flagship downtown arts high school but then backed out. One time he withdrew to deal with a family crisis. On the second occasion, he reconsidered after the Ellington school community made a concerted effort to retain him.

Besides running the Ellington school, Pullens spent more than a decade as an arts administrator in Denver, where he designed the first elementary arts school for the public school system there, according to his posted biography. He worked for nearly two decades as a writer, director and producer in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles.

Pullens will receive a salary of $147,086 on a one-year contract plus a $10,000 moving allowance.

According to the district job description, Pullens will direct the entire arts education program at L.A. Unified "to ensure increased arts … opportunities" and to integrate arts into instruction. L.A. Unified made substantial cuts in this area during the recent recession, some of which are gradually being restored.

Earlier, when Pullens was recruited to head the downtown arts high school, philanthropist Eli Broad offered to supplement his salary. But a staffer with Broad's foundation said her organization was unaware of the LAUSD hiring.

Broad had encouraged L.A. Unified to bring in a nationally respected figure, such as Pullens, to lead the arts high school, which is named after former L.A.Unified Supt. Ramon Cortines.

Another high-profile arts school administrator, Kim Bruno, has since taken on the job and is finishing her first year at the campus. She had been principal at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York.


Mary Plummer | | Pass / Fail | 89.3 KPCC

May 22nd, 2014, 12:05am "I think this is great for arts education in Los Angeles County," said Arts for LA's Executive Director Danielle Brazell. She called him a "strong visionary."

In a passionate TEDx talk on education, Pullens touted the 98 percent graduation rate at his Washington D.C. arts school, Duke Ellington School of the Arts - and its famous alums, including comedian Dave Chappell. The school is well known and Pullens is a celebrity in the world of arts education. He's rubbed elbows with First Lady Michelle Obama.

But others questioned the district's process.

"We do not support the idea of inventing a new position and then just placing someone in the position," said Judith Perez, president of Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, which represents administrators. Perez said the board's closed-door approval Tuesday of Pullens to head the district's arts education efforts was the first she'd heard of the job.

"Is that the best use of that very limited funding, when our schools have been starved for programs and personnel?" Perez asked. Pullens will be paid a base salary of $147,086.

Marilyn Fuller, who oversees the human resources unit that helps select administrators for the school district, said her office did not post the position, but she couldn't say whether or not it had been posted by another section of the office. The district's communications office did not confirm whether or not the job had been posted publicly, but a representative said Pullens was recruited directly by Superintendent John Deasy.

In an email, Pullens said he was in Los Angeles Tuesday when the hire was announced and will return in a few weeks to continue the transition.

Pullens will be implementing "Arts at the Core," an October 2012 school board resolution that seeks to revamp arts education in the district and vastly increase access — but which has been largely ignored so far. 

Pullens will report to Gerardo Loera, the executive director of the district's Office of Curriculum and Instruction. 

The job description outlines that Pullens will "ensure increased arts education opportunities and integrated arts instruction" for students across the district. His duties will include managing the arts education program's budget and establishing and evaluating community partnerships that relate to arts instruction.

The job description also requires him to have a California Administrative Services Credential, which is standard for all administrators in certificated jobs, according to a district spokesperson. No credential was on record when KPCC checked Tuesday in both Los Angeles County and Washington, D.C., so presumably he'll have to jump through that procedural hoop.

This is the third time L.A. Unified has tried to hire Pullens. Twice it recruited him to head Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts in downtown L.A., but the deals didn't go through. Instead, Kim Bruno — who was principal at the well-known LaGuardia Arts high school in New York City — was brought in for the job, which she began last fall. 

At the time, philanthropist Eli Broad had agreed to supplement Pullens's salary if he took the job at Cortines. A Broad Education Foundation staff member said neither its president nor spokesperson were available for comment Wednesday.

Art teachers in the district were surprised by the announcement. 

"We don't know whether this is going to be a good thing or not," said Eloise Porter, an arts teacher who is also the president of the Los Angeles City Elementary Schools Music Association. Porter said she wished teachers and others had been more involved in the hire.

"It's just really a big question mark," she said.

PULLENS’ TEDx TALK ...but isn't a TED Talk just a Worholian fifteen minutes and eighteen seconds of fame?

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
QUOTE O' TH' WEEK: “Every student watches us every day,” Deasy said. “They watch how we solve our problems.” |

If schools slowed down and focused on a deeper kind of flourishing, they might be more productive
Key legislative panels approved Thursday $1.25 billion for helping schools transition to the Common Core State Standards and another $650 million to support expanding pre-kindergarten to all low-income four-year olds. The actions, taken separately by budget subcommittees in both houses of the Legislature, are not binding but suggest that Democratic leaders are interested in spending a big share of the state’s unanticipated revenue on public school programs. S&I Cabinet Report
Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to immediately start paying off the $74 billion shortfall in funding for teacher pensions was, for school districts that would bear the brunt, the big May budget surprise. On Thursday, two key lawmakers responded to districts’ calls for total relief next year by urging legislators to meet them halfway. EdSource
• LAUSD AVOIDS PARENT-TRIGGER THREAT, AGREES TO $300,000 IN IMPROVEMENTS AT WEST ATHENS SCHOOL -- Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy and elementary school parents in West Athens struck a deal to invest an additional $300,000 in personnel, heading off a potential use of a 2010 law that would have allowed parents to transform the campus into a charter school. Beau Yarbrough in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 5/24/14
More than half of Latino students in California attend "intensely segregated" K-12 schools, or those that have a white population of 10 percent or less, according to a new report by The Civil Rights Project at UCLA.Brenda Gazzar in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 5/23/14
Senate leader Darrell Steinberg unveiled a modified version of his plan to offer free preschool to California 4-year-olds on Thursday, slashing the cost of the program to the state by more than two-thirds by focusing on children from the poorest families. Laurel Rosenhall in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 5/23/14
• [Tweet] Who is Rory Pullens - and why is he the answer to LAUSD's Arts+Music Education Program - or lack thereof? ...and who exactly says so?

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
Start: 05/27/2014 1:00 pm

Start: 05/28/2014 3:00 pm

Thurs, May 29, 2014 10:00 AM-1:00 PM

All in the LAUSD Board Room

*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
Phone: 213-241-5183
Phone: 213-241.8700


What can YOU do?
• E-mail, call or write your school board member: • 213-241-6386 • 213-241-6180 • 213-241-5555 • 213-241-6382 • 213-241-6388 • 213-241-6385 • 213-241-6387
...or your city councilperson, mayor, the governor, member of congress, senator - or the president. Tell them what you really think! • Find your state legislator based on your home address. Just go to: • 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 Brown: 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.
• If you are eligible to become a citizen, BECOME ONE.
• If you a a citizen, REGISTER TO VOTE.
• If you are registered, VOTE LIKE THE FUTURE DEPENDS ON IT. THEY DO!.

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

Scott Folsom is a parent leader in LAUSD and is Parent/Volunteer of the Year for 2010-11 for Los Angeles County. • He is Past President of Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA and represented PTA on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee for ten years. He is a Health Commissioner, Legislation Team member and a member of the Board of Managers of the California State PTA. He serves on numerous school district advisory and policy committees and has served as a PTA officer and governance council member at three LAUSD schools. He is the recipient of the UTLA/AFT 2009 "WHO" Gold Award for his support of education and public schools - an honor he hopes to someday deserve. • 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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