Friday, August 31, 2012

Courtroom Shennanigins (7th and 8th grade)

(Note:  There are two posts today.  The next post provides a summary of the hearing.  This post is just one specific issue within the larger discussion.)

I waited until today to write this because I wanted to see how it played out in court today.  Since we have our answer, I want to share with the wider community our perspective on the recent BCS allegations with respect to their 7th and 8th grade.

BCS has been trying to make hay about the District's supposed failure to deliver furniture for their 7th and 8th grade kids.  Readers may recall that LASD determined that the best location for the BCS 7th and 8th grade program was to co-locate them at Blach, rather than to try to locate them at Egan and further impact the Egan program.  BCS was none to happy about this, and has been fighting it every step of the way.

Leading up to today's hearing BCS amended their complaint to include the assertion that LASD had failed to provide them furniture at the Blach location.  Arturo Gonzalez, counsel for BCS, went so far as to send a letter to the judge telling her he had a photo that she needed to see.  (letter) It turns out that the photo was a group of students seated on the carpet in a portable.  Hardly the stuff of a revolution. 

Where it starts to get frustrating to me is how BCS intentionally manipulated the situation to make all of this occur.  We have a series of communications stretching back to June 2012 wherein our facilities folks try to work out with BCS what all of the furnishing arrangements will be.  Randy Kenyon asks how they intend to use the space, so that he can arrange appropriate desks, etc.  BCS says they want to see the space first, then they delay the entire process, even into the early weeks of August.  A fair bit of the back and forth is because BCS already has desks for 7th and 8th graders, located at Egan.  We were willing to move those desks to Blach, but BCS wanted us to provide two sets, one at Egan and one at Blach.  Since we aren't required to spend extra taxpayer funds providing BCS students with redundant furniture, we declined to pay for it, but offered that if BCS wanted to fund it, we would procure it and put everything in place.  (link to email threads)  BCS continued to delay, right up to the start of school.  Lacking any more specific information, and knowing that Ken Moore had told the parents that they would be holding the 7th and 8th grade classes at Egan, we didn't move the furniture from Egan to Blach.

If that were the end of it, I probably wouldn't be as frustrated. BCS, though, seems to think it's OK to involve the students directly and create photo ops to try to create a false point for the court.  They chartered luxury coaches (you know the type- the great big buses with air conditioning and TV's in the ceiling) to haul their kids the 4 miles across town to Blach, and took pictures to submit to the court.  (Interestingly, they didn't include photos of the buses, but diligent folks did capture the images) I understand that they also arranged a "press tour" this morning to complain to the local media about  how LASD is trying to cheat their 7th and 8th grade students. 

I'm deeply disappointed that people who profess to be "all about the children" would do such a thing.  They have failed in at least two significant ways:
1) they've involved and manipulated the kids for political benefit.  Frankly, it's just not appropriate to use kids as props in the theater you're orchestrating
2) they lied to the court by concealing their manipulation of the situation.  Great set of values to pass on to the students...

Maybe I'm reacting strongly to this, but I really believe that they've crossed the line with this stunt.  It's just not appropriate.  The first thing the judge did today was to throw out all of their late filings, so we probably won't see this discussion in front of the courts.  However, I did hear from enough community members that I felt compelled to set the record straight.  If adults reasonably disagree about something, well, we all know how to find the courthouse, but leave the kids out of the charade.  They aren't pawns to be played with.

(Please see the next post for a more detailed summary of the court hearing.)