On Tuesday, July 10th, I attended the regular weekly Los Angeles Unified School Board meeting. There were a couple important resolutions that were voted on that day. The first one was to help and support children who have been separated from their parents as a result of the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy on immigration.
The resolution, “Putting Kids First Means Keeping Families Together” was authored by Board Vice President Nick Melvoin and co-sponsored by Board President Monica Garcia, Board Member Kelly Gonez, and former Board Member Ref Rodriguez. This resolution will help children that have been separated by addressing the “emotional, mental, and physical trauma caused by forcibly separation policies,” offering approximately 500 children, which mainly included separated children in foster care in the Los Angeles area, who have been affected by this heartless policy.
These children will have access to resources such as counseling, medical & dental care, food and supplies. LAUSD will do everything in its power to help reunite separated children with their parents. There were many public comments made in support of this resolution, and the board passed the resolution with a unanimous vote. There were applauses in celebration of the resolution’s passing, and there was a feeling of unity in room because there was no hesitation from anyone on whether or not we would help these children.
The other resolution that I was there for was not as well supported by all sides. It was a resolution for a parcel tax that would add a tax for homeowners to help the district with their current financial crisis. This resolution was the main reason that I attended the board meeting that day. The reason that I did not support this resolution was because it excluded any of the revenue from this parcel tax from going to charter schools. I am a charter school parent and a homeowner in Board District 6, I refuse to support and much less pay for something that excludes my child’s school, simply because it is a charter school. My daughter’s school is a neighborhood school, that was built in 1960. Why shouldn’t this neighborhood public school receive any benefit from this proposed parcel tax?
There were many speakers there for public comment. The audience was pretty well divided between those who supported the resolution and those that did not. I did think it was interesting that two former Board Members Bennett Kayser and Jackie Goldberg who were Board District 5 former members were there to speak. They both spoke in support of the parcel tax.
At the end of the public comments, there was an opportunity for me to speak, and I took it. I began to explain my concerns and why I did not support this resolution. My frustration with the situation and the constant exclusion of charter schools, that I’ve seen in the last two years, took over. I began to yell and cry, my voice shook and my emotional state took over. However, I continued to express my thoughts as best I could. By the end of my three minutes of public comment, I did the best I could to voice all of my frustrations, and I made sure the board heard what I had to say. After I sat down, Board member Dr. Richard Vladovic agreed with me & declared that it was wrong, especially since charter schools are about 20% of the districts schools. He said that charter parents shouldn’t feel like they have a Scarlet letter on their chest, but that’s exactly how it feels. He then offered to add an amendment that would include charter schools.
Board member McKenna argued that charters were never excluded from the beginning, and he didn’t understand why all these charter parents were coming to speak out against it. He basically said just because it didn’t state that charters were separate, that it didn’t mean they weren’t included, under the umbrella of “district schools.” Honestly, it sounded like an excuse to me and a way of making it seem like charter families and supporters were over exaggerating the situation. At one point, the board had to check with the legal department to clarify exactly what was stated in the resolution. A woman came to the podium and stated that “We could interpret it that way” but, it wasn’t clear and clarification was still needed in order to include charter schools in writing. This did become a moot point since the resolution did not pass but if it had, there would be no reason to leave out charter schools. The point of my story is that I spoke up, and my voice was heard. Not only was it heard but it was respected, and it caused a change. This is why we need to continue to show up and speak up at LAUSD Board Meetings.
Roxann made sure to play an active role in her daughter’s education, by becoming an active parent volunteer. From field trips, to book fairs, to starting a new parent group called, Parent Voice, at her daughter’s school. Wanting to get more involved and make a difference, she began to get civilly engaged in local elections by organizing parents in her community. Roxann is now a Parent Engagement Coordinator with Speak UP, where she works with parents in LAUSD’s Board District 3 and 6. Roxann recently became a Board Member on the Sylmar Neighborhood Council. And she proudly represents her Assembly District 39, in the California Democratic Party.
Roxann has been a blogger with La Comadre for two years and she is grateful to be a part of the La Comadre Network.
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