Los Angeles Parents Score A Victory!
BREAKING NEWS: After months of asking for meetings of the LAUSD Special Education Committee to resume, one has been scheduled for March 25!
When physical school sites shut down last March, all LAUSD committee meetings were also suspended, including those for the Special Education and Parent Engagement Committees. This eliminated an important form of feedback between the district and the parents that would have been beneficial at a time when communication was especially needed.
As the crisis caused by the pandemic wore on, public agencies, including the LAUSD Board, adapted and began to hold meetings online so that Safer At Home rules could be followed. However, with the exception of the Committee of the Whole, the district’s committees remained silent.
When Kelly Gonez assumed the position of Board President last December she announced her intention to keep the board’s committees suspended through the end of the semester. When Board Member Scott Schmerelson asked her to allow him to reconvene the Special Education and Parent Engagement Committees, she told him that he would have to find four votes to overrule her decision. She told the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) that the meetings could not be held because the district staff “have a lot of responsibilities on their plate at this time.”
According to one district source, board members received a flood of emails and phone calls asking that the committees be allowed to begin meeting again. Northridge East and Northridge West are among the neighborhood councils that weighed in, stating that these committees encourage stakeholder participation. The CAC also passed a motion with a vote of 18–0–1 stating that resumption of meetings of the Special Education Committee would “allow families of students with disabilities to have a place to come and provide a strong voice for our students.”
It appears that Gonez has finally listened to her constituents; a meeting of the Special Education has been scheduled for March 25, 2021. Unfortunately, the Northridge West Neighborhood Council’s request to have the meeting “held during after-work hours to allow for more participation” has been ignored as the meeting is set to begin at 1:00 PM.
While a meeting of the Parent Engagement Committee has not yet been placed on the calendar, it is expected that it will be soon. It would be helpful if the public demonstrated that these meetings are important by participating in the meeting scheduled for March 25. Call-in information can be found on the district’s website.
Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, a member of the LAUSD’s CAC, and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action endorsed him, and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a “strong supporter of public schools.” For links to his blogs, please visit www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.