Adolfo Guzman Lopez
Flags fly at half-mast at Aldama Middle School in Highland Park, in remembrance of those killed in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
For local parents, news of the Connecticut school shootings Friday was difficult to hear. And even harder to explain to their kids.
Chisa Uyeki found out about the shootings on Facebook. She knows Newtown, Connecticut really well. She drives through when visiting relatives on the East Coast. She spent most of the day wondering how she would tell her kids -- a kindergartener and second grader at Aldama Elementary School in Highland Park -- about the shootings.
“I can’t understand it myself so I don’t know, I haven’t figured that out," she said. "I’m a librarian, I was out work and one of the things I read today was how to talk to kids.”
A few steps away, Philipp Lujan and his pre-school age daughter waited for his fifth grade son.
“I’m just picking him up right now… I’ll go ahead and tell him, some people just have sick mind,” he said.
Attorneys Luis Carrillo (L) and Brian Claypool (R) talking to reporters about their clients' civil lawsuits over alleged lewd acts against Miramonte students
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Mackey on Thursday ruled that two lawyers could back out of settlement talks with the Los Angeles Unified School district over alleged abuses at Miramonte Elementary. The attorneys said the district's offers after four months were "insignificant."
The first trail has been scheduled for September 23.
The lawyers, representing students and parents who allege they were harmed by former teacher Mark Berndt, had agreed to suspend litigation last fall. They pulled out of mediation last week and filed a motion with the court to be allowed out of the deal.
At least 120 other cl;aims releated to Brendt's actions are still in negotiation. David Holmquist, LAUSD's lawyer, said he's been working towards resolving the pending lawsuits and hopes to spare the children the trauma of testifying in court.
In the middle of a tragedy, we are all drawn to listen and watch the news. But USC pediatrician Harvey Karp said parents of young children should be careful what images they see.
"I encourage parents to turn the TV off. Because those images are so powerful and they can be very very disturbing and really seared into your child's memory," Said Karp, who has worked with children of military personnel and veterans dealing with trauma.
That doesn't mean you should avoid the conversation. Karp said a good strategy is to focus on what will make kids feel secure: tell them about all the things that you and their teachers are doing to keep them protected.
"Visitors are not allowed at the school, or there's a gate around the school, or there's a policy at the school to help keep people like this out," he said. "Simple messages to help allay their concerns."
The new chancellor of the California Community Colleges system, Brice Harris, faces a legal challenge from an independent group that contends the system's academic senates exercise too much power. The group, California Competes, petitioned the community colleges' Board of Governors on Wednesday.
A group of business owners and elected officials – that includes the mayors of Long Beach and Pasadena – contends that professors are slowing the pace of reform at California’s 112 community colleges. On Wednesday the organization called California Competes formally asked the state community colleges' Board of Governors to change that.
Community college academic senates have existed for almost 50 years. The state legislature created them to give faculty a say in academic decisions and instructor staffing.
Bob Shireman of California Competes says those advisory groups routinely veto all kinds of decisions. His organization on Wednesday asked state officials to change policies so each college’s board of trustees could exercise final decision making power.
“Even in Pasadena and El Camino College, there in the Los Angeles area...they’ll even argue over the start date for the spring semester,” Shireman said.
Crenshaw High School may soon go the way of Dorsey, Manual Arts and Westchester high schools; it could face a district takeover as early as next year.
Over the summer, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy suggested Crenshaw, with its persistently low test scores, is eligible for "reconstitution," wherein the district can layoff the entire staff. The district can take over a school when it fails to meet state-mandated educational benchmarks under the federal No Child Left Behind act. Teachers who want to stay would have to reapply for their jobs.
Stakeholders say district officials are proposing restructuring the South L.A. school into three separate magnet programs. But officials have not explained how that might happen, leaving parents, students and teachers with a lot of questions.
They hope to get some answers tonight at a public meeting at 7 pm at the Crenshaw High School library. (5010 11th Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90043)