May 7, 2020News
A 200-car caravan traveled from downtown LA to the front door of actor Kristen Bell’s house in Los Feliz on May 7, delivering a
letter urging the celebrity to prioritize public health and oppose the co-location of Citizens of the World charter. Bell sits on the board of the charter school, which is attempting to take classrooms from Shirley Elementary next school year.
The caravan then visited the house of a member of the board of Gabriella Charter School, which is seeking to co-locate at Lizarraga Elementary. The caravan followed a news conference outside LAUSD headquarters, where, following safe social distancing, parents, students, and educators from schools facing co-location demanded that LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner and the LAUSD School Board enact a moratorium on new charter co-locations for the 2020-21 school year.
A state law known as Prop. 39 allows charter companies to take so-called “unused” space from neighborhood public schools in a process called “co-location.” Co-location results in a charter school taking rooms from the public school and sharing libraries, cafeterias, bathrooms, hallways, and entrances with that public school.
“I’m deeply worried about the public health threat that co-location will pose to our school,” said Sally Ortiz, a teacher at Lizarraga Elementary. “Governor Newsom has said that when schools reopen, we will have to practice social and physical distancing. How are we supposed to socially distance if a new charter school comes and takes our rooms? With two schools sharing one building, there is more potential for the virus to spread.”
If LAUSD allows new charter co-locations to proceed for the 2020-21 school year, it will jeopardize the health of all involved — of public and charter school students, educators, and their families. Thousands of parents, teachers, and students have signed onto a petition calling on Superintendent Beutner to prioritize their health and enact the moratorium.
“When schools reopen, our lives will depend on getting it right,” UTLA officer and LAUSD parent Alex Orozco said. “We know that safety will be impossible if we cram too many children into too little space. This is not about politics, it is about the health of all of our children. New co-locations will endanger students from both charters and public schools. Safety must come first, and LAUSD needs to take action to protect us all.”