- Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty
In the ten months since I first filed a complaint about Granada Hills Charter High School’s enrollment practices, there have been some incremental changes. Most importantly, while the original enrollment page had no provisions to compensate for the specific challenges that homeless students face, the school is now in compliance with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act as its web page now includes a specific link for “Homeless and Foster Enrollment”.
Unfortunately, there are still areas where GHCHS is not in compliance. While the LAUSD’s Charter School Division (CSD) assured me, in a letter dated July 28, 2017, that the charter had “agreed to revise its enrollment form and website to provide further clarification regarding the distinction between admission and enrollment and what is requested after a student has been admitted to GHCHS”, the revisions released last week do not reflect these changes. On Tuesday, I provided this information to the School Board:
My name is Carl Petersen and I am a parent, including having two children who are on the autism spectrum. I realize how much money the charter school industry has spent to make sure that you do not regulate the charters, but you still have a responsibility to all of the children, including the most vulnerable, which is why it is very disappointing that I am here for the same issue on multiple occasions.
My neighborhood school is Granada Hills Charter High School. It was taken over by a charter. Before that my wife graduated from that school, so it is our neighborhood school. As such, all children within the former District boundaries should have the opportunity to go to that school. To make sure that that happens their charter states that “Granada Hills Charter shall not request or require submission of a student’s IEP, 504 Plan, or any other record or related information prior to admission” (emphasis mine)
As you know, I have been up here several times stating that they are still requesting information that identifies a student as having special education needs and the response that I received from the Charter School Division was that they are not going to enforce it. The school would take care of it.
Last week the school released the website of their latest admission requirements and in the packet, you can see that it states: “504 and IEP documents are not required to enroll. However, providing these documents will assist GHCHS in providing a continuity of services.” That is a request. The charter specifically says that they may not request this information, yet the Charter School Division continuously allows them to get away with this.
If you continue with the packet you will see that that wording appears on another page. It also asks for the student’s race. I want to know why they are asking for a student’s race before enrollment. That is not allowed.
The next page again requests the IEP. They are not allowed to request the IEP.
You will also see in this package the Charter School Division’s response to one of my prior appearances before you. The next page has the data that shows that this is having an effect, that they are serving fewer children with special education needs than the schools around them, particularly LAUSD schools.
Finally, under the California Education Code, I am allowed to submit items for your agenda. I have submitted this resolution several weeks ago and I am still waiting for this to be put on the agenda. A copy of my proposed resolution is in your packet.
Granada needs to be forced to serve all children. It is a neighborhood school.
At this point, there is little doubt that GHCHS does not have any interest in complying with this aspect of their charter. Unfortunately, discouraging the enrollment of students with special needs is not the only way that the administration is failing their original promises to the community. The conversion from a public school was supposed to increase representation from the community, but the Governing Board is now an unelected body. There are also numerous complaints against the school from parents who live in the area but have been forced to enroll their children in the iGranada program instead of a traditional program that includes credentialed teachers. The LAUSD issued a Notice to Cure for this issue on September 21, 2016, but it has not been resolved.
Supporters of GHCHS’ Executive Director, Brian Bauer have quoted him as saying that the school has no responsibility to automatically enroll those living within the school’s former district boundaries. This is a complete about-face from the following statement that Bauer made at the January 2011, Governing Board meeting:
“Brian Bauer confirmed to the parent that GHCHS is required to enroll students according to the LAUSD attendance boundary and the only additional enrollees are through the School’s open enrollment application process.”
As a recipient of public funds for a charter that was converted from a public school, Bauer has a responsibility to ensure that every neighborhood child is enrolled in a program that meets their needs. As the authorizer of this charter, the LAUSD has an obligation to provide complete oversight and to shut down any activity that does not comply with the charter or the law.
Hundreds of parents have shown their support by signing the Stop Granada Hills Charter H.S. From Discouraging the Enrollment of Special Ed Students petition. The LAUSD has still not taken action.
Carl Petersen is a parent and special education advocate, elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race. He was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a “strong supporter of public schools.”