Parent Engagement Gone Wrong: Parents Beware, You Can Get A “Disruptive Parent” Accusation in LAUSD

Let me get this straight. I can be issued a letter by my child’s school labeling me as a “disruptive parent”? A disruptive parent letter is just what it sounds like. But what does that even mean? Can I in turn issue the same type of letter to my child’s school or teacher? What determines the pleasure of receiving one of these letters? That’s where it gets a little sticky. In an article in the LA School Report, Christopher Ortiz, director of School Operations, said the district has the legal right to issue the letters if the parent is not deprived of educational rights and has been disruptive, like yelling obscene statements at school. The reasons for issuance are open to interpretation. You can pretty much recieve one for any reason the district sees fit or finds to be “reasonable.” Lots of room for interpretation, giving them lots of wiggle room. There have also been plenty of parents and parent groups concerned with misuse in the issuance of these “disruptive parent letters.” According to the article, many parents believe that the letters are being used as a way to suppress parents that are outspoken, and went on to say that because of these letters, it has now created an environment where parents feel unwelcome on campus. As a result, parents are choosing other schools, such as charter schools where there isn’t a threat of being labeled “disruptive,” and these schools work actively with the parents to produce results. As a parent, I could only imagine the type of climate these letters would create on campus. If I am a “disruptive parent,” being labeled as such would only agitate me further. How is this a solution?

Recently I sent a strongly worded email to my daughter’s teachers, she was working on a group project and didn’t receive the grade we were hoping for, she was also not presented with the grading rubric right away letting her know what she did wrong and areas for improvement. This was a project that I saw my little scholar working avidly on, and I was beyond upset when my daughter received a low score. The hoop earrings were about to come off. This alone could have been reason enough to be labeled as a disruptive parent had she been at LAUSD. Instead of receiving one of these letters, her teachers scheduled a meeting with me to take place a few days later. This also gave me the time to cool off. We met, they explained the rubric and why she received the grade that she did. The reason rubrics weren’t handed out on the spot was because the grade was cumulative and other components for assessment were factored in. We resolved the situation and worked together. Had I received letter telling me that I was “disruptive,” I would have only been further agitated, and the last thing I would have wanted was to work together with my child’s educators. It was a learning experience for us all.

If a parent receives one of these “disruptive” letters, there is no appeal process, and parents may feel that they are being stripped of their rights. This scolding letter can discourage parental involvement.

This is reflective of the state of our criminal justice system. Where the poor and voiceless are further marginalized and silenced, punishing parents is not questioned. Already, there are more school police on campuses than there are counselors. We get the message loud and clear LAUSD, and we aren’t happy. The similarities between our schools and criminal system need to end. Our schools cannot be a mirror of that system. LAUSD, you’re doing it wrong. So here are some recommendations:

  • There should be specific guidelines given to parents
  • An appeal process or hearing process handled by a neutral party
  • A complaint process to track staff members who treat parents disrespectfully.
What do you think?

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Lily Gonzalez

Lily Gonzalez

Lily Gonzalez was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, the daughter of a single, immigrant father. Lily strives to make her father’s dream of a family of college graduates come true. She is a product of LAUSD Schools and a graduate of South Gate High School.

She is a recent cancer survivor and through some years of adversity has risen above all her recent challenges. Lily is a Homeboy Industries graduate and full-time student at California State University, Northridge. She has continued to live her life in South Los Angeles with her two children. She works to show her children that anything can be done with hard work, determination and perseverance even in the face of unimaginable challenges. Her daughter is in a Charter School and she is working to find the right Preschool program for her youngest child.

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