Charter School Oversight
Unchecked expansion of the charter industry drains millions of dollars away from neighborhood schools and creates equity and transparency problems. LAUSD must protect neighborhood schools by regulating charter industry growth and charter school co-locations onto neighborhood schools.
My son is in transitional kindergarten at Trinity Elementary School. Last year, the Gabri- ella Charter School co-located onto our school campus. Now two schools share the same campus, and they compete for the same students, classrooms, and resources.
Gabriella Charter School tried to take over a second-grade classroom at our public school and we had to fight to keep it. They use the janitorial staff employed by Trinity, but the custodians do not receive additional pay—or even the additional supplies they need to serve the extra students and classrooms. Gabriella also treats our special needs students with blatant disrespect; they refused to soundproof their dance studio which is right next to a special education classroom full of students who are sensitive to loud noise. Co-locations have divided our community and caused a lot of tension for our kids and parents.
Parent, Trinity Elementary School
Just the Facts
The original intent of charter schools was to incubate innovative strategies to improve student learning. We support charter schools that are committed to that work. But in Los Angeles, the corporate-dominated charter industry has been more focused on starving our public schools and advanc- ing a privatization and union-busting agenda.
Los Angeles is home to the largest concentration of corporate charter schools in the country. Since 2008, the charter industry has grown a whopping 287% and now totals 224 independent charter schools in LAUSD.1 The charter industry costs the district nearly $600 million every year.2 Unlike our neighborhood schools, charters don’t serve all students. The industry has been scrutinized for discriminatory access affecting students of color, low-income students, English language learners, and special education students. Some charters “counsel out” students whom they don’t want to accommodate, such as students with poor academic records or special needs.3 Corporate-run charter schools operate with privately appointed boards that often do not represent the public, yet make decisions about how public funds are spent. They often do not report on finances transparently and have been hit by constant conflict-of-interest controversies.4 The charter industry also continues to expand through “co-locations,” where a charter school and a neighborhood school are run separately but coexist on the same public school campus. Co-located charter schools take over public school computer labs, parent centers, nurse and counselor offices. Co-locations create tension and competition among school administrators, teachers, and parents.
LAUSD must protect neighborhood schools by regulating the growing charter industry and charter school co-locations on neighborhood campuses. The district must require community impact studies of charter schools, as well as requiring charters to provide annual data on student demographics, enrollment, dismissals, and expulsions. Safeguards need to be established to ensure that co-locations do not diminish the learning and working conditions at our neighborhood schools. At all co-located sites, parents and educators must have seats at the table to ensure that the co-location does not adversely impact the district neighborhood school, its programs, or its ability to expand those programs.
1 Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), About Charter Schools. Retrieve from: https://achieve.lausd.net/Page/1816
2 Zoller, S., “Review: Fiscal Impact of Charter Schools on LAUSD.” MGT America Consulting, LLC. May 2016. p. 37
3 Miron, G., “Charters Should Be Expected to Serve All Kinds of Students” Education Next. Fall 2014 / Vol. 14, No. 4
4 Dingerson, L., Gutierrez, E., & Regullano, G., “WHOSE SCHOOLS? Community Representation and Transparencyin Charter School Governance in Los Angeles.” United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA). Jun. 2018. p.4