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

LA Unified moves to fix Jefferson High scheduling problems under court order

JEFFERSON 001

Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

Jefferson High School students Dasianique Weeks, left, Starr Brock, and Oscar Carrillo are upset with the dysfunctional scheduling software and staffing issues at their high school.

Top Los Angeles Unified administrators met with school staff at Jefferson High in south Los Angeles Thursday after a judge ordered they come up with a plan to get students the courses and teachers they need.

Instead of academic courses required to graduate or get into college, some students were assigned periods doing clerical work, given classes they had already taken or allowed to go home early, according to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and Public Counsel. 

Julia Pineda went to the school to question Jefferson administrators Thursday on why her son is home at around noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

She said their answer wasn't entirely comforting: officials told her he's doing well in his classes so the "home" periods won't affect him.

"It is affecting him because he's losing half a school day on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He gets out early and goes home and does nothing," she said, adding she welcomed the state intervention.

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Long Beach museum looks to buck trend of declining student field trips

MOLAA School Bus

Mary Plummer/KPCC

The Museum of Latin American Art's new bus transports students from Anton Elementary School to the museum on Sept. 26.

MOLAA School Bus

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Amber lights, crossover lights and "school" are taped over on the bus purchased by the Museum of Latin American Art to bring local students to the Long Beach museum. The process of getting the bus certified spanned more than a year. This photo was taken over the summer as the museum staff worked to get the bus operating as a school bus.

MOLAA School Bus

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Jared Battad, who works as a security guard at The Museum of Latin American Art, is now a bus driver for the museum. Battad started driving at the start of 2014 and had to qualify for a Class B driver's license.

MOLAA School Bus

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

By the time it was done, the Museum of Latin American Art's bus went through two paint jobs, a letter of appeal to the governor and four separate visits from California Highway Patrol inspectors.

MOLAA School Bus

Mary Plummer/KPCC

Fifth-graders from Anton Elementary School in East Los Angeles head to The Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach on Sept. 26.

MOLAA School Bus

Mary Plummer/KPCC

The Museum of Latin American Art's new bus transports students from Anton Elementary School to the museum on Sept. 26.


Museum field trips, once among the most memorable experiences of the school year, have seen declines across the country in the past decade. Budget cuts and pressure to teach to the test have kept students on campus and in their classrooms, museum experts say.

The declines have been significant; some museums report student attendance dropped by double-digits.

"It's of great concern," says Elizabeth Merritt, founding director of the Center for the Future of Museums. "What we've heard from museums across the country over the past 10 years is that there are increasing barriers to field trips."

National numbers are hard to come by, according to Merritt, but the trend of the last decade at individual museums has been discouraging. In Los Angeles, the Autry National Center museum's field trip numbers have dropped every year since 2010, down 13 percent. And until the 2013-2014 school year, the L.A. Natural History Museum's field trip numbers were down nearly 20 percent from a high in 2007-2008. 

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Audit finds Magnolia charter school operator in red after questionable purchases

accounting

401(K) 2012/Flickr

Los Angeles Unified auditors allege charter operator Magnolia Public Schools made questionable purchases then borrowed millions from classroom funds to stay afloat, according to a report released Wednesday.

Auditors found the charter organization was $2.9 million in the red at the end of June 2013.

Kim Onisko, accountant with Onisko and Scholz LLP representing Magnolia, said all improper accounting issues were addressed months ago and revenues now exceed expenditures.

"A lot of this is not fact, but opinion," said Onisko. "The opinion would have been modified if they would have interviewed staff to ask them about these issues."

In  June, L.A. Unified's charter school division auditors found questionable financial practices at Magnolia, prompting the school board to order the closure of two of the charter operator's campuses, Magnolia 6 and 7. 

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Parents, students focus on classrooms in judging LA school superintendent

Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy speaks to reporters in this 2012 file photo.

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Unified school board is evaluating Superintendent John Deasy this month, and considerable opinion has been tossed around on whether schools have improved under his direction.

When several parents and students were asked about Deasy, they told KPCC that what matters to them is what is happening in the schools. They were not always certain about the impact the superintendent has had on learning and appear even less concerned about the politics swirling around Deasy's future.

Venice High School sophomore Andrea Pinto said she just wants better teachers.

"Some of the teachers don't care. They teach a couple of examples from a problem, something like that, and they expect you to know it right away," she said.

Deasy's supporters say he's had a positive effect on the schools since he joined the district in 2011. Test scores have inched up just about every year, graduation rates have risen.

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LA schools' inspector general pleads for additional funding

LA Unified's inspector general is seeking more funding for his office.

Ken Teegardin/flickr Creative Commons

The Los Angeles Unified School District's Office of Inspector General is requesting another $1.8 million to address a growing number of concerns with charter schools, technology expansion and school finance. 

"The OIG needs to secure ongoing discretionary funds in order to adequately plan its work and activities as required by its Charter and government auditing standards," according to a report from Ken Bramlett, the inspector general.

Since 2009, funding for the inspector general decreased by 46 percent, diminishing staffing and creating a backlog of audits and investigations, according to the report.

Bramlett declined to comment before presenting the report to the board's Budget, Facilities and Audit Committee, but his office recently reopened an investigation into the district's $500 million iPad purchase.

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