March 16, 2017Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UTLA Communications Director
Protecting Our Students Against Unaccountable Charter Schools
- Students, Parents, Educators and Community Leaders
- Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles
- State Senator Tony Mendoza, D-Buena Park
- Youth advocate and School Board District 6 Candidate Imelda Padilla
- UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl
- Reclaim Our Schools Los Angeles, LAANE, ACCE and others
Thursday, March 16 at 3:30 PM
Arminta Elementary School, 11530 Strathern St., North Hollywood, CA 91605
NORTH HOLLYWOOD — Parents, students and community leaders will rally around two state bills – AB 1478 and SB 808 — aimed at school accountability and local control. They will also be calling for rescinding offers of co-location to Celerity charter schools, currently under local and federal investigation for fraud, corruption, embezzlement, financial malfeasance and conflicts of interest.
“The Celerity scandal shows that unscrupulous people are allowed to cheat taxpayers and students through privately operated charter schools,” says Alex Caputo-Pearl, UTLA president. “Celerity has violated the public trust, why give them more public space?”
Despite being under investigation, Celerity recently targeted Arminta Elementary School for co-location. Celerity charter schools are currently operating, rent free and taxpayer-funded, at 8 LAUSD schools and are seeking space on an additional 10 campuses for next school year.
Under current California law (Proposition 39), space without a dedicated teacher and student roster can be given to a charter school, but often that "open space" includes parent centers, computer labs and tutoring programs that are key components to a quality education. There are more than 220 independent charter schools operating in L.A. Unified, which has the most co-located schools in the state.
Summary of the two charter school bills:
• AB 1478 (Jones-Sawyer): Accountability and Transparency at Charter Schools. Requires charter school governing boards to comply with laws promoting transparency and accountability to parents and the public in the operation of public schools and expenditure of public funds; it does not ask more from charter schools than of traditional public schools. The public’s business should be transacted in public. Companies and organizations that manage charter schools must open board meetings to parents and the public.
• SB 808 (Mendoza): Local Control of Charter Schools. Requires that all charter school petitions must be approved by the school board of the school district in which they reside. School boards are elected to make decisions in the best interest of the communities they serve. By summarily overruling rigorous evaluations of charter petitions by local school boards, county and state education officers are undermining the practice of local control.
Celerity made headlines in the LA Times recently, which found that CEO Vielka McFarlane earned over $471,000 in 2013, sported Armani suits, and arrived at schools in limos while students lacked basic school supplies. According to financial records cited by the Times, she paid for many of these expenses with “credit cards belonging to her charter schools, which receive a bulk of their funding from the state.”
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