So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

County approves LA schools controversial budget

density quiz 11/17

Jack Lyons/flickr Creative Commons

stay frosty

The Los Angeles County Office of Education approved L.A. Unified's $7.3 billion budget this week after county officials raised concerns the district may be misrepresenting its financial figures.

This school year, L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy is channeling more than half of the $837 million in state funds for low-income students, English learners and foster youth into the special education program, arguing 80 percent of the special education students fall into one or more of the three targeted groups.

Under California's Local Control Funding law, counties are required to sign off on school districts' spending plans for these high-need students. In late August, Los Angeles county officials asked L.A. Unified to "provide rationale that supports the identification of these expenditures." 

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Frank Gehry designing new social service campus in Watts

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Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Tawnya Spencer rubs the backs of children during nap time at a Head Start program in Imperial Gardens in Watts. The program is run by Children's Institute, which serves more than 22,000 children in Los Angeles' most challenging neighborhoods.

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Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Desiree Lee teaches a Head Start student how to wash his hands at the site in Imperial Gardens in Watts.

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Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

A now empty Los Angeles County health clinic will be demolished to make way for a new Children's Institute building designed by the architect Frank Gehry.

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Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Children's Institute renovated this space at its location in Watts to make it more inviting for community members to come in and seek services.

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Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

A young girl takes a nap at the Head Start facility in Imperial Gardens run by the Children's Institute. The program helps kids in rough neighborhoods learn in a safe environment.

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Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

This is one of the waiting rooms inside the old L.A. county health clinic in Watts. The building will be demolished to make way for a new clinic designed by the architect Frank Gehry.

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Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

In contrast to a sterile health clinic, Children's Institute makes its space more inviting to encourage people in the community to come in and seek mental health services.

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Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

A young boy at the Head Start facility in Imperial Gardens in Watts puts on his shoes before taking a nap. The program offers a safe haven for children who may live in housing projects known for drug activity and violence.

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Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Pictured is one of the now empty exam rooms in the closed L.A. county health clinic in Watts. Children's Institute plans to construct a new building that will be more inviting to those seeking mental health services.

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Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

A playground at the Head Start facility run by Children's Institute is a stark contrast to the Imperial Gardens neighborhood that surrounds the building.


The social service organization Children’s Institute Inc. is planning a new campus in Watts designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.

It’s a small coup for the institute, which began working in Watts in 2007 and is best known for the 10 preschool sites it runs in the community. Yet it offers more than just free preschool.

In space once occupied by the closed Los Angeles County South Health Clinic, the institute is pulling together clinical and mental health services, family services such as parenting training, and youth development programs that include art classes and leadership training. Parents walk in the door to sign up for Head Start and often access other needed services.

“Children’s Institute in an arrangement with the county was able to take over the space and we have renovated one of the two buildings in order to provide our blend of youth development and clinical and family support services here at this site,” said Nina Revoyr, the institute’s executive vice president.

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LA school board backs off plan to delete emails after one year

Monica Ratliff District 6

Rebecca Hill/KPCC

School board member Monica Ratliff in her former classroom at San Pedro Street Elementary.

The Los Angeles Unified School District said Wednesday the board will revisit its email archiving policy a day after the board approved the purchase of new software that would automatically destroy one-year-old internal emails. 

No emails will be deleted until the school board makes a final decision. 

School board member Monica Ratliff called for changes to the school district's policy for retaining those records.

"I believe the District should preserve any emails of Board members, the Superintendent, senior officers and their respective staffs," Ratliff said in a written statement Wednesday.
 
"Often, older emails may have historical importance that cannot always be assessed until later," she said. "The Board and District must come up with a timeline for email retention that makes sense and clearly serves the public’s interest.”

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LA school board agrees to destroy internal emails after a year

This photo taken on January 7, 2010 show

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Unified school board voted Tuesday to buy a Microsoft email archiving service programmed to automatically destroy staff emails after one year.

The decision comes less than three weeks after KPCC published two-year-old internal emails that raised questions about whether Superintendent John Deasy's meetings and discussions with Apple and textbook publisher Pearson influenced the school district's historic $500 million technology contract.

Under the new system, L.A. Unified will be able to deny California Public Records Act requests for emails more than one year old, according to school district general counsel David Holmquist. KPCC had obtained the emails through the public records act.

The measure passed 6-0, with new school board member George McKenna abstaining from the vote.

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LA schools' early technology plans called for training on Pearson software

student hand with ipad

by Lexie Flickinger via Flickr

The Los Angeles Unified School District's early technology expansion plan called for all teachers to be trained on textbook publisher Pearson's iPad educational software, according to a document obtained by KPCC. 

Superintendent John Deasy emailed the plan to Pearson CEO Marjorie Scardino on May 27, 2012, almost a year before the $500 million project went to competitive bid.

It indicates the district will call for competitive bids on its one-to-one technology expansion, but also require the educational materials company that got the contract "to train personnel in the content and skills needed to implement the CCSoC" (Pearson's Common Core System of Courses) and "use content and materials developed by Pearson in school-level training and development."

In an emailed response to KPCC, Deasy said the plan was referring only to a handful of courses Pearson was offering for free that were developed under a grant by the Gates Foundation - not the entire K-12 system of courses.

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