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The Thompson Letter to LAUSD

Education activist and President of the Granada Hills Neighborhood Council Kim Thompson has sent out correspondence to all concerned parties stating the case against making the Valley Regional High School No. 4 a charter.

Also, in adjacent Porter Ranch, Beckford Elementary prepares for Teacher Appreciation Week, which the District celebrates by sending out RIFs. In a previous item, we noted that one of the teachers advised of a possible pending layoff is Carol Champommier, whose only child was slain by law enforcement last June.

That case against chartering Valley Regional High School No. 4 is laid out in the complete letter Thompson sends to the board and other stakeholders, in which she accuses Granada Charter 1 of cherry-picking students, especially through all but eliminating special education offerings at the school. She also assails the skills of Granada 1 adminstrator Brian Baier, and calls outgoing Councilman Greig Smith's sustained LAUSD-bashing "disingenuous and phony".

I am writing to you to plead with you to vote for LAUSD, Local District 1 to operate Valley Region High School #4! I am a parent who is very familiar with the workings of Granada Charter and since I have no personal agenda, I truly want Local District 1 to operate the school for the best reasons there could be. They are wonderful educators with an outstanding plan. I’ve read both plans. I’ve attended every community informational meeting and I believe without the shadow of a doubt that Local District 1 is the best choice for our community.

I am not a charter school-basher, by any means. I believe that there is a place for them but I also believe that in this particular instance, there is no need for a charter. Granada Hills Charter High School was doing absolutely fine when it wasn’t a charter. Although they may have slightly raised scores since becoming a charter, it is not because of anything spectacular they have done educationally. It is because they removed the deaf students, they nearly eliminated their special education and severely cut it down, and they transferred out any child they identified as a potential drop out so that LAUSD could have the drop-out rates as opposed to them. Is that really equitable?

Please look at their demographics. They don’t have the experience to handle the population of the new high school. They are the only school with the highest number of whites, the lowest number of Latinos, the highest number of Asians, the lowest number of Special Ed students, the lowest number of socio-economic disadvantaged, and the highest number of gifted and talented. Those demographics are the only proof you should need to make an educated, informed decision on the right thing to do. The new school will not be the same demographics as theirs and they won’t be able to cherry pick their students and change those numbers over the course of five years like they did with GHCHS. I fear what this trend will do to our wonderful public education system.

One of the things I hate the most is their supposed “board”. It is the least transparent board of any organization I’ve ever been associated with. If you have any kind of trouble with this school, you can go to the Brian Bauer appointed board but if they don’t agree with you, there is no more recourse. You cannot appeal to anyone else. I have been involved with LAUSD since my son started kindergarten in 1995. He has since graduated and my second son is a student at GHCHS. Luckily he is a “good” boy and he is also “gifted” or I am sure I would have more personal problems with the school, but I don’t. I simply don’t like the way Brian Bauer administrates and I don’t like the idea of his wanting another charter school when there is nothing wrong with Local District 1. I have never had a problem with any school within the district of LAUSD and I have found the vast majority of the teachers in Local District 1 to be above and beyond excellent.

The Councilman in the district where this school lies picked up the rants of the LA Daily News and has consistently bashed LAUSD since 2002 in preparation for his 2003 race against former School Board Member, Julie Korenstein. That has continued to this day and I find it disingenuous and phony.

GHCHS spent far too much money on billboards, busing students to the vote, taking out ads, donating to campaigns and still – they only beat Local District 1 by approximately 72 votes. So please keep that information in mind when you are voting. 6000 votes and they still couldn’t cause an overwhelming vote in their favor! That says a lot.

I was ecstatic to see the Superintendent’s recommendation and GHCHS immediately sent us an email begging us to call you and write you to vote for them. They will try to get the families of their school kids and the community members they have been actively courting for a year to email and call you but I am begging you to please do what is right for the children of this community – all of the children – and what is right for our free public education system.

Whatever the outcome of the battle, the Thompson letter has stated community opposition in a way that permits unity in opposition, a potential go-to document for those who oppose the chartering of the school for different reasons.

Galatzan's office's "Galatzan Gazette" noted the presentations of the two main applicants last December.