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Kids wait in line for lunch at Normandie Avenue Elementary School in South Central Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Unified School District has been ordered to pay back more than $158 million that was supposed to go for free and reduced lunches but that state officials say was spent on lawn sprinklers, staff salaries at the district's television station and other improper uses over a six-year period.
A report by the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes released Wednesday morning said LAUSD was among eight districts ordered to repay funds recently. It was by far the biggest violator, according to audits by the California Department of Education. The other seven districts combined were ordered to repay about $11 million. Two are contesting the findings.
“From my point of view, they are literally taking food out of the mouth of kids,” Richard Zeiger, chief deputy state superintendent of public instruction, was quoted in the report as saying. “They say, ‘Well, we can do it cheaper.’ I say you should do it better.”
Civil rights lawyers say they have settled a racial profiling lawsuit filed by Latino students who allegedly were rounded up at a suburban Los Angeles high school and treated as potential gang members.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California said Wednesday that the Glendale Unified School District and Glendale Police Department agreed to policy changes after a 2010 incident at Hoover High. The suit claimed police directed 50 Latino students into two classrooms, made them pose for fake mugshots and subjected them to bullying.
The agreement says the Police Department agreed to train officers on dealing with students at schools and revised policies on racial profiling. The school district will notify parents if students are interrogated on campus.
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Students learn car mechanics at a school in England. California officials want to increase technical training for students to train them in careers that don't require college.
California education officials want to expand and promote career and technical education classes offered by public schools.
While we've all heard the rhetoric by some administrators and educators for all high school graduates to be college ready, many students want and will end up in technical careers for which they won't need to go to college. On the contrary, many jobs require vocational training.
His public campaign includes seven presentations through April to help school districts tailor their technical education classes to industries hungry for workers with that level of training. Speakers will talk about how to best help students land and keep a job, how pilot programs are combining academic and technical education, and how community colleges are on the forefront of learning in-demand technical skills.
Hollywood donates a lot of money to national political campaigns. Big players in “the industry” have also donated to Los Angeles City Hall races over the years. But L.A. Unified school board races have been way off the radars of these big donors. Until now.
Nearly two-dozen people are campaigning for three L.A. Unified school board seats. Most of the Hollywood money is going to one candidate: school board president Monica Garcia. Nearly 10 percent of Garcia’s donations have come from the entertainment industry.
Wes Craven, director of the "Scream" films, donated $1,000 to Garcia’s campaign. "The Hangover" screenwriter Scott Moore gave money too. So did several major, major players, like Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. She, along with studio bosses David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg, and media billionaire Haim Saban also gave Garcia the $1,000 maximum donation.
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Now-retired Cardinal Roger Mahony in 2010, when he lead a Christmas mass at The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Records show he was kept abreast of allegations against Pina.
Officials with LA’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese said they warned Los Angeles Unified School District not to hire a former priest who’d admitted to a sexual relationship with a minor.
LA Unified had actually initiated the conversation. In 2001, school officials asked the church: Does former priest Joseph Piña carry out all job duties in an ethical and safe manner?
The answer from the Archdiocese: No.
Spokesman Tod Tamberg said the church elaborated, writing: “Mr. Pina has many fine qualities but is not the most stable of individuals. I would not recommend him for a position in the schools.”
LAUSD hired him anyway. Piña worked for the district as a Community Organizer from 2002 through 2012, when he was laid off.
In that time, no complaints were made against him, according to LAUSD.