LOCAL Education

Welcome to Essential Education, our daily look at education in California and beyond. Here's the latest:

K-12LAUSD

Read L.A. Unified school board President Ref Rodriguez's resignation statement

LAUSD

Ref Rodriguez resigns as LAUSD president amid criminal charges, but remains on board

 (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Board of Education President Ref Rodriguez announced Tuesday that he would step down from that post.

Rodriguez said he would retain his seat on the board. Last week, Rodriguez was charged with perjury and other felonies for allegedly funneling $25,000 of his own money into his 2015 campaign and hiding the true source of the donations by reimbursing straw donors.

K-12LAUSD

Ref Rodriguez will step down as president but keep his seat on the L.A. Unified school board

Los Angeles Board of Education President Ref Rodriguez announced Tuesday that he would step down from that post.

Rodriguez said he would hold on to his seat on the board.

The move comes shortly after Rodriguez was charged with three felonies related to his election. Prosecutors accuse Rodriguez of engaging in a campaign money-laundering scheme. They said he gave more than $24,000 to his own campaign, while illegally representing that the donations had been made by more than two dozen other contributors.

The charges blindsided his fellow school board member.

California State UniversityHigher Education

Cal State trustees to discuss enrollment management, budget gaps and executive compensation

 (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)
(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

The California State University system faces difficult problems that don’t seem likely to disappear soon. The state covers a smaller proportion of CSU costs than it used to, and the number of students who want to attend keeps growing — with demand particularly high for certain popular campuses and programs.

The trustees of the nation’s largest public university system will be discussing how to make progress on both fronts when they meet in Long Beach, starting Tuesday.

For ParentsHigher EducationK-12LAUSDUniversity of California

UC Irvine's record donation, Harvey's hit on Texas schools, test results delayed: What's new in education

 (David Montero / Los Angeles Times)
(David Montero / Los Angeles Times)

In and around Los Angeles:

  • When should the school year start and end? L.A. Unified wants to know what you think.
  • Cal State is teaming up with Univision this weekend to host a free festival focused on showing young Latinos and their families the educational resources and opportunities available to them.

In California:

Nationwide:

Higher EducationUniversity of California

UC Irvine aims to transform public health with record-breaking $200-million donation

 (UC Irvine)
(UC Irvine)

One couple’s passion for integrative health has led to the largest donation ever made to UC Irvine. On Monday, UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman announced that the Samuelis have donated $200 million to launch what he billed as the nation’s first university-wide enterprise to embed integrative health approaches in research, teaching and patient care.

“The human body is a very complex and highly interconnected system. Therefore our healthcare needs to be looked at through a more holistic lens,” Henry Samueli, who also owns the Anaheim Ducks, said in remarks at UC Irvine. “Our genetics, our surrounding environment, our nutrition, our physical activity and our mental state all play critical roles in our well-being.”

For ParentsK-12

We still don't know when last school year's California standardized test scores will be released

 (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

We previously reported that the public release of California's standardized test scores from last school year had been delayed indefinitely.

Schools and parents got scores back this summer. At issue are the overall results for the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress.

The results were first scheduled to be released on Aug. 29, but the California Department of Education said that it needed to fix a glitch first. About 25,000 special education students' scores had wound up included in the wrong districts. 

That was three weeks ago.

First, officials said they were working to have the results ready for last week's State Board of Education meeting. Then, the target date became this week. As of Monday, California Department of Education spokesperson Bill Ainsworth said, "It's just taking longer to put everything together than we expected." The priority, he said, was making sure all the information is accurate. There is no firm date for release, but the scores won't come out this week, he said. 

Charter SchoolsHigher EducationK-12LAUSDUniversity of California

Rodriguez's puzzling finances, a rush to renew DACA status, Philadelphia discrimination lawsuit: What's new in education

The University of Virginia voted to remove plaques honoring alumni who fought for the Confederacy. Above, white nationalist groups march through the campus on Aug. 11. (Mykal McEldowney / Indianapolis Star)
The University of Virginia voted to remove plaques honoring alumni who fought for the Confederacy. Above, white nationalist groups march through the campus on Aug. 11. (Mykal McEldowney / Indianapolis Star)

In and around Los Angeles:

  • Some of Ref Rodriguez's friends and foes are confused by the school board president's involvement in what investigators call a campaign money-laundering scheme.
  • A local law school is helping "Dreamers" apply to renew their DACA status before the Oct. 5 deadline set by the Trump administration.

In California:

Nationwide:

  • A lawsuit says Philadelphia's public school district relegated some female lacrosse and hockey players to what came to be known as the "Negro League."
  • The University of Virginia board voted to remove plaques that honor alumni who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.
Higher EducationUniversity of California

UC Berkeley officials say organizers of far-right festival have failed to complete reservations for two indoor venues

 (Jeremy Papasso / Associated Press)
(Jeremy Papasso / Associated Press)

UC Berkeley officials said Saturday that organizers of a far-right speakers’ series scheduled for later this month have missed the deadline to reserve two of the largest indoor venues on campus for the event, but that they will continue to work with organizers on planning for the festival.

“The university cannot defend spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide security arrangements for events” based on the press releases of organizers, Dan Mogulof, assistant vice chancellor of the university’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs, said in a statement.

Charter SchoolsK-12LAUSD

Why didn't school board President Ref Rodriguez just write himself a big check?

 (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

When news broke that Los Angeles school board President Ref Rodriguez was caught up in a criminal case over his campaign contributions, friends and foes alike were baffled.

Rodriguez, who won his school board seat in 2015, legally could have poured as much of his own money as he liked into his upstart campaign. So why would he, as prosecutors claim, have arranged for others to donate and then use his funds to illegally pay them back?

K-12

Teacher at elite Brentwood School charged with having unlawful sex with 16-year-old student

 (Los Angeles Times)
(Los Angeles Times)

A teacher at the elite Brentwood School was charged Friday with repeatedly having unlawful sex with a 16-year-old male student this summer, prosecutors said.

Aimee Palmitessa, 45, who worked for nine years at the private school, was arrested Aug. 18 after the teen reported the alleged assaults to authorities, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said. She was released on bail hours afterward.

Higher EducationUniversity of California

UCLA pharmacy closed after state finds it sent out drugs with expired, potentially dangerous ingredients

 (Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)
(Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

A state pharmacy inspector made a surprising discovery last year while conducting a routine records review at a Westside facility that compounded drugs for patients at UCLA medical centers.

More than 1,000 IV bags of sterile medications for heart patients and others with serious health issues had been made with expired and potentially dangerous ingredients, according to state Board of Pharmacy records.

Betsy DeVosCharter SchoolsHigher EducationK-12LAUSDUniversity of California

A blindsided L.A. school board, a $150-million settlement, arrests at Berkeley: What's new in education

 (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

In and around Los Angeles:

  • L.A. Unified school board members and charter school advocates said they got no warning about Ref Rodriguez's legal troubles before the news broke Wednesday.
  • L.A. Unified agreed to pour $151 million into 50 schools in a settlement over whether the district appropriately spends money earmarked for English learners, students from low-income families and students in the foster-care system.

In California:

  • Some UC Berkeley professors are calling for a shutdown of classes and activities when conservative speakers visit campus during "Free Speech Week." 
  • Nine people were arrested in protests at UC Berkeley over conservative writer Ben Shapiro's visit.
  • The State Board of Education approved and submitted California's plan for satisfying the Every Student Succeeds Act, but some say the document lacks urgency on equity.

Nationwide:

  • Some question Trump's early pledges of commitment to historically black colleges.
  • Harvard has revoked its invitation to Chelsea Manning to be a visiting fellow at the Kennedy School.
Higher EducationUniversity of California

9 arrested as protesters gather at UC Berkeley for talk by conservative speaker Ben Shapiro

Hundreds of protesters swarmed UC Berkeley on Thursday evening as conservative writer Ben Shapiro spoke on campus, with law enforcement out in force to prevent a repeat of recent violent clashes between far-left and far-right agitators.

Nine people were arrested, four of them on charges of carrying banned weapons. One was held on suspicion of battery on a police officer. Hundreds of law enforcement officers, many in riot gear, prepared for violence and seized potential weapons, but no major skirmishes were reported. Several shouting matches erupted but ended peacefully.

Betsy DeVosK-12

'Heartbreak' for California Board of Education member: Focusing on compliance instead of equity

 (Christina House / For The Times)
(Christina House / For The Times)

The California State Board of Education had been focused for hours on how to meet requirements to help its lowest performing schools and districts.

But after long, jargon-laden discussions about “building capacity” and “creating new systems,” board member Feliza Ortiz-Licon took a step back and apologized to civil rights groups.

Higher EducationUniversity of California

UC Berkeley faculty call for campus boycott of Milo Yiannopoulos during 'Free Speech Week'

 (Jeremy Papasso / Associated Press)
(Jeremy Papasso / Associated Press)

More than 200 UC Berkeley instructors and faculty members are calling for a shutdown of classes and activities when right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos and other conservative speakers visit campus this month.

In a letter sent to the campus community this week, the faculty members said that a boycott of Yiannopoulos’ “Free Speech Week” would protect their students from potentially deadly violence. The letter cited shootings, stabbings and beatings during confrontations between the right and left in Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Charlottesville, Va.; Maryland and Virginia.

Charter SchoolsK-12LAUSD

Charges against school board president stun L.A.'s education world

 (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Charter school advocates in Los Angeles had been having a great year. With millions of dollars at their disposal, they had won their first majority on the school board and installed a pro-charter board president, Ref Rodriguez.

They had ambitious plans for the future and they had the leadership of Rodriguez, a figure in the national education reform movement.

Then, on Wednesday, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office charged Rodriguez with three felonies in a 14-page criminal complaint.

No one — not district or charter school leaders or his fellow board members — said they knew it was coming before the news broke.

K-12LAUSD

Settlement to send $151 million to 50 L.A. schools over the next three years

Santee Education Complex will receive some of the settlement funding. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Santee Education Complex will receive some of the settlement funding. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles Unified School District will pour $151 million into a group of 50 schools to settle a lawsuit over how the school system spends money intended for some of its neediest students.

The funds, to be distributed over three years, will go to schools in low-income neighborhoods, mostly in South and East Los Angeles, and will pay for such efforts as increased tutoring, mental health support, counseling, parent participation and restorative justice.

The extra help is supposed to benefit three groups of students: those from low-income families, English learners and those in the foster-care system.

Read the settlement and see the full list of schools receiving funds »

Districts receive extra funding from the state to benefit those students. In L.A. Unified, where most students fall into at least one of those categories, the targeted money adds up to more than $1 billion annually.

Nearly all of the students at the 50 campuses named in the settlement are in these targeted groups.

Higher EducationUniversity of California

Unprecedented measures at Berkeley for conservative writer's speech

 (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

To see what free speech looks like in 2017 at the birthplace of the famed movement, consider the elaborate preparations underway for a talk Thursday by a conservative writer.

Ben Shapiro isn’t nearly as controversial as some right-wing speakers who have roiled the campus over the last year.

Nonetheless, UC Berkeley has told students that counseling is available to those stressed by all the commotion. A large swath of the campus will be closed off, including the plaza where the free speech movement began in the 1960s. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on security, and police can now use pepper spray on protesters after a 20-year-old ban was lifted by the City Council this week. Shapiro’s appearance is a key test for Berkeley.

Higher EducationUniversity of California

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol T. Christ: 'Free speech has itself become controversial'

 (David Butow / For The Times)
(David Butow / For The Times)

UC Berkeley, home of the free speech movement, has become the nation’s most prominent stage for violent confrontations between the left and the right. This month, conservative speakers Ben Shapiro, Milo Yiannopoulos, Ann Coulter and Steve Bannon all are expected to visit Berkeley, and the campus is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in security costs to prevent violence.

Chancellor Carol T. Christ, who has more than three decades of teaching and administrative experience at Berkeley and also served as president of Smith College, said a “combustible mix” of changing youth sensibilities, political polarization and the choice of university campuses as battlegrounds has made protecting free speech more fraught than ever. She spoke with The Times on Wednesday in San Diego, during a break in the UC regents meeting.

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