The Ultimate Tragedy of Deregulating Schools

Mother killed and student injured getting to school.
Mother killed and student injured getting to school.
The tragic death of a mother and the severe injury of a student today underscore complaints that have been made for years by parents, teachers and principals at doubled up campuses throughout Los Angeles. 

As LAUSD moves to deregulate schools and flings open the doors to sell off parts of its campuses to schools accountable for little more than test scores, hundreds of unplanned car trips per day descend upon each peaceful neighborhood. Makeshift entrances and adhoc drop-offs ignore the originally designed ingress and egress of carefully planned facilities. Dozens of children at each co-located campus risk their lives dashing across streets. Double and triple-parked cars and stopped traffic are reported at nearly every co-location in the city. 

Now a young girl has lost her mother and has been injured herself.

The course that LAUSD is pursuing, viewing schools as business franchises, has led to thoughtless co-locations. Prop 39, which requires districts to provide facilities to charter school students, does not require the district to ignore public safety--or common sense. And the school district is creating more special schools to co-locate at neighborhood schools every year. Yet, the countless complaints about the doubling up have been rejected with district claims that public streets are not their purview. The City, in turn, claims that it can't control the second largest school district in the country. 

Today's incident puts both the school district and the City on notice that co-locations can gravely impact public safety in ways that cannot be ignored. The school district needs to stop thrusting an entirely new school onto an existing school and telling everyone to figure out the details for themselves. The impacts of these co-locations cannot be simply absorbed by over-taxed facilities and neighborhoods.

The solution is to require proposed co-locations to go through an approval process where their traffic and pedestrian safety plans face scrutiny similar to newly constructed schools. Then, if the school district and the City want to keep pointing fingers at each other, somebody will help them settle the argument--before another family suffers a tragedy like today. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ronnie Castro March 06, 2014 at 02:35 PM
Jenocean, as a CWC parent or staff member, I understand how difficult this information is to swallow. I am fully aware of the facts in this case. Your CWC board did not find it urgent enough to protect the families who enrolled in CWC. They once did (by training parents to be crossing guards), and for whatever reason they stopped. There's no propaganda here. Not every charter school would have made that deadly decision that ended the life of this mother. Your own charter school board changed over the past year or so. Maybe that's why they lost sight of safety essentials. Lawsuits are designed to punish people responsible for exactly this type of negligence and to set an example for others who may make the same thoughtless mistakes. I do hope that the family of this mother sues the school. Let a judge decide who's at fault. This child deserves justice for the loss of her mother.
Jenocean March 06, 2014 at 10:29 PM
My child is in preschool, and I am a self-employed journalist. I do not work for the school and do not have a child attending the school. Once again, get your facts straight and stop making assumptions that are simply wrong. Perhaps the school should sue you for libel.
Rene Diedrich March 20, 2014 at 06:28 PM
Jenocean, it is common knowledge that the mainstream media is devoted to the deep pockets that essential reduce them from journalists to glorified stenographers banging out propaganda about the failure of public schools and the ope provided by charters . Of course garter schools are wildly lucrative and have no obligation to serve special needs students, ESL demographics or anyone they choose not to. I don't know what the truth is , but if the board earned the $200k and failed to address that issue with the traffic , I'd like to know what they did with that money. The school is liable for the woman's death, and so is LAUSD for housing both campuses in a fashion that compromised the safety of students on both. Frankly, your attack on Karen Wolfe illustrates the kind of climate our schools operate in . There is a mean spirit in each revocation that betrays far worse character flaws than those of a person who has defaulted on student loans. Thousands of LAUSD teachers, myself included will be doing this bc the districts profit driven agenda has purged us to make room for interns who are cheaper and more obedient. These are qualities I am sure you value, but in schools they are detrimental to learning as well as the safety of students. When your child is in a public school, maybe you will get that . I do not know what Wolfe lied about if anything . What I do know is she us tireless as advocate and activist who defends children from the white chalk criminals and plutocrats infested in our schools right now. If she was deceitful, I am sure it was for a good reason, which is more than I can say about your wanton defamation . Karen is a good parent, a formidable foe against enemies of public education and a friend to students, teachers and parents in LA. Her compassion and intelligence are obvious in this article and her work for other education sites. What do you do for your community? I guess I can't google you to fund out, how convenient.
Jenocean March 23, 2014 at 07:58 PM
I'm sorry, Rene, your ignorance about both journalism and charter schools is rather astounding. Charters cannot discriminate against kids with special needs. WISH Charter and CHIME charter are known as two of the best public schools in terms of how they work inclusively with special needs kids. And I personally know an African American girl with autism from my son's preschool who is at CWC MV with a full-time one-on-one aide provided by the school. Another close friend from my neighborhood has a son with CHARGE syndrome at CWC. He has had something like a dozen surgeries, including several open heart surgeries, and is so disabled that a nurse accompanies him to school. She was so grateful to find CWC because LAUSD had put her son in a chaotic special class alongside kids with Down Syndrome, even though he is brilliant and was reading a year above grade level. At CWC he is mainstreamed into the regular class, as are all students. I've met other parents of special needs kids at WISH and CWC who are so thrilled by this inclusive model and the differentiated instruction the schools provide. As a teacher and union member, you would be wise to examine the reasons why 20% of LAUSD students are moving to charters. When LAUSD has such an impossible time firing teachers who are incompetent, abusive or drunk on the job, many savvy parents are going to opt out of that system.


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