LOCAL Education

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

  • U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is withdrawing the Obama administration's policy on investigating campus sexual assault. The new policy doesn't have a timeline for investigations, and allows for informal resolutions.
  • The Times obtained data from Los Angeles Unified School District about the high schools that send the highest percentage of their graduates to college. Principals from those schools told us how they do it.
K-12

A saga of hope, grief and frustration at a toppled school in Mexico City

 (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

For more than two days, people throughout Mexico and the world waited for news from the southern part of Mexico City, where an elementary school had collapsed during this week’s devastating magnitude 7.1 earthquake.

In an instant, concrete walls and ceilings in parts of the elementary school crashed down, crushing students as young as first-graders. Over the next 50 or so hours, hopes would rise and fall as rescue efforts unfolded at the school. In the end, the search for a single survivor took a turn no one could have expected.

For ParentsK-12

Highland girl struck by car as she walked to 'unsafe' school bus stop awarded $36.1 million

Isabella Sanchez, before the crash (Family photo)
Isabella Sanchez, before the crash (Family photo)

Every morning on her way to first grade at Bonnie Oehl Elementary School in Highland, Isabella Sanchez crossed a residential street mid-block to catch her bus.

One morning about two months into the 2012 school year, she dashed across the street and was struck by a car. She flew 70 feet into the air, her attorney said, before landing on the pavement and going into cardiac arrest.

Isabella, 6 at the time, survived. But she was in a coma for three months and had a traumatic brain injury and fractures to her neck, arm, leg and pelvis. She was in a wheelchair and needed 24-hour care.

“You’re her arms, you’re her body, you’re her eyes, you’re her feelings, everything,” her mother, Carina Sanchez, 38, told The Times on Thursday in explaining her caregiving role. “For us to rest, like a regular person, that hasn’t happened since the day of the accident.”

Now, five years later, a jury has awarded the girl $36.1 million, ruling that Durham School Services, a private school bus company, and one of its drivers were negligent when they failed to notify the San Bernardino City Unified School District about a pattern of unsafe crossings at that bus stop.

For ParentsHigher EducationK-12LAUSD

These 10 L.A. high schools are the best at getting their graduates to college

Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies Harbor Teacher Prep Academy Bravo Medical Magnet High Social Justice Humanitas Academy Middle College High Daniel Pearl Magnet High Taft Charter High King/Drew Medical Magnet High Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies Northridge Academy High 86% 85 84 82 82 81 80 79 79 77 2016 graduates enrolled Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies Harbor Teacher Prep Academy Bravo Medical Magnet High Social Justice Humanitas Academy Middle College High Daniel Pearl Magnet High Taft Charter High King/Drew Medical Magnet High Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies Northridge Academy High 86% 85 84 82 82 81 80 79 79 77 L.A. Unified schools with highest college-going rates Data: abcdefg hijkl mnop qrstu vwxyz 1234 56789 Sonali Kohli @latimesgraphics Source: Los Angeles Unified School District

More students are graduating from Los Angeles Unified School District schools, but they’re not all going on to college.

Some district schools are more successful than others at getting their students to college. According to L.A. Unified data for the class of 2016 obtained by The Times, Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies was the most successful comprehensive high school — 86% had enrolled in a two-year or four-year college by April 2017.

The data are from National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit education research organization that tracks students through college.

Betsy DeVosHigher Education

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos rescinds Obama-era guidelines on campus sexual assault

 (Alex Brandon / Associated Press)
(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on Friday rescinded controversial Obama-era guidelines that had prodded colleges and universities to more aggressively — some say too aggressively — investigate campus sexual assaults.

The decision left women's groups worried that victims of sexual assault will lose protections or face intimidation to remain silent, but critics of the former guidelines said the change could lead to a process that also considers the rights of those accused.

The department said it was withdrawing the Obama administration’s policy — which was spelled out in a 2011 letter to schools — because of criticism that it placed too much pressure on school administrators, favored alleged victims and lacked due process for people who had been accused of sexual assault.

"Those documents have led to the deprivation of rights for many students — both accused students denied fair process and victims denied an adequate resolution of their complaints," the department's acting assistant secretary for civil rights, Candice Jackson, said in a letter Friday.

Betsy DeVosCalifornia State UniversityK-12University of California

High schools that get grads to college, Berkeley class disruptions, the mystery of Frida Sofia: What's new in education

Berkeley students are worried about "Free Speech Week" interruptions. (David Butow / For The Times)
Berkeley students are worried about "Free Speech Week" interruptions. (David Butow / For The Times)

Around Los Angeles:

In California:

  • The University of California system will chip in at least $300,000 to help UC Berkeley pay security costs for controversial speakers, including those at "Free Speech Week" later this month.
  • On campus, Berkeley students are facing canceled classes and office hours, and they're not happy about it. 

Nationwide and beyond:

California State UniversityCharter SchoolsHigher EducationK-12LAUSD

Lennox investigation, Rodriguez opinions, Redlands Unified sued: What's new in education

St. John Chrysostom Catholic School in Inglewood (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
St. John Chrysostom Catholic School in Inglewood (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

In and around Los Angeles:

  • L.A. County education officials are investigating a small public school district that has been enrolling Catholic school students.
  • The county's Board of Supervisors approved a $3.9-million settlement in a civil rights lawsuit involving an assault on a minor in juvenile hall. 
  • A charter school advocate's opinion on Ref Rodriguez. The view of the teachers union.

In California:

  • Four former Redlands Unified students are suing the district, saying a teacher sexually harassed them — but they were told to keep quiet.
  • Cal State's trustees approved a 2.5% salary increase for the system's chancellor.

Nationwide and beyond:

  •  In Mexico City, the search continued for survivors in a three-story school that had collapsed, killing at least 25 people.
  • The U.S. Department of Education could be doing a better job keeping track of colleges' financial health, according to a new report from the federal Government Accountability Office.
HS InsiderK-12

Student opinion: Dream on, Trump, DACA isn’t ending

 (Maya Avelar / HS Insider)
(Maya Avelar / HS Insider)

Chloe Hilles, a senior at Foothill Technology High School, argues ending DACA is not good for the country.

Eight hundred thousand peoples, including military personnel and civil servants, will be affected by the latest and cruelest decision by President Donald Trump – 800,000 who just so happened to be unlucky in their situation but took the initiative to better it.

Beginning in 2012, former President Barack Obama made the executive decision to grant young, undocumented immigrants opportunities through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, colloquially known as DACA. Since its beginning, DACA has helped almost 800,000 teenagers and young adults who unwillingly entered the United States illegally with their family.

They are all the Dreamers. The ones who came to this country without a choice, who have worked hard to gain the protections they have today. You probably know a Dreamer. It could be the person who sits next to you in math class, or your friendly co-worker. Maybe it’s your neighbor who will be leaving for college in the fall, or the first responder to an accident.

Now, these Dreamers are at risk of being deported to a country they might never have grown up in, with a language they don’t know. Many Dreamers came to the United States at such a young age they don’t know anything about their country of origin. The United States might be the only country they consider their home.

Charter SchoolsFor ParentsK-12LAUSD

L.A. teachers union calls for embattled ex-president Ref Rodriguez to leave school board

Los Angeles school board member Ref Rodriguez (Los  Angeles Times)
Los Angeles school board member Ref Rodriguez (Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles teachers union on Wednesday called for school board member Ref Rodriguez, who is facing felony charges, to resign from the L.A. Board of Education.

The union said in a statement that Rodriguez did not do enough by announcing Tuesday that he would step down as board president. 

"His decision to stay on the board runs afoul of the commitment needed for his elected position, to the students, parents and educators he is meant to serve," said the statement signed by the union's officers. "It is not reflective of a 'kids first' agenda he and his colleagues trumpet so often."

"While we believe in due process rights, choosing to stay on as a board member means he will continue to make long-lasting policy decisions, including who becomes the next board president," the officers stated. "Our students will take a back seat to what happens next in this criminal case. His voting record as a school board member, including possible conflicts of interest, will inevitably all be called into question."

The union's stand is not particularly surprising. 

United Teachers Los Angeles opposed Rodriguez when he was elected to the Board of Education in 2015. The union also is concerned that the current, slim board majority will lean increasingly in favor of charter schools. The departure of Rodriguez would subtract a key vote from that bloc. 

Advocates of charter schools spent record sums in 2015 and 2017 to help elect a pro-charter board majority. The other major spender, backing opposing candidates in those campaigns, was the teachers union.

Allies and backers of Rodriguez have generally applauded his decision to step down as president, a post he has held only since July. But they've also generally supported — at least publicly — his plans to stay on as a board member. 

Some Rodriguez supporters have downplayed the charges against him, filed by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office last week. Prosecutors allege that he secretly funneled nearly $25,000 of his own money into his campaign through straw donors. Rodriguez legally could have put the money into his campaign directly.

The City Ethics Commission faulted Rodriguez for allegedly trying to hide, from voters and others, the true source of the donations.

California State UniversityHigher Education

Cal State trustees approve raises for top executives

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

Cal State trustees unanimously approved a salary increase for top executives at the end of a two-day meeting in which they also discussed budget shortfalls, enrollment growth and protections for immigration students.

The board of the nation’s largest public university system approved a 2.5% salary increase for Chancellor Timothy P. White, six vice chancellors and the system’s campus presidents.

K-12

L.A. County to investigate public school system's enrollment of Catholic school students

 (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County education officials have launched an investigation into fiscal and legal questions surrounding a small public school district that has been enrolling Catholic school students.

The inquiry centers on the Lennox Virtual Academy, an online school operated by the Lennox School District, which has about 5,000 students and is located near Los Angeles International Airport. Earlier this month, The Times reported that the district had entered into unorthodox partnerships with at least four Catholic schools, offering them money and free laptops in exchange for enrolling their students in the district’s virtual academy.

K-12

School district failed to investigate sex abuse allegations against Redlands teacher, lawsuit claims

 (Redlands Police Department)
(Redlands Police Department)

Four former high school students are suing the Redlands Unified School District, alleging they were sexually harassed and abused by a teacher but were told to keep quiet when they reported his behavior to school officials.

An administrator told one student in 2012 that then-Redlands High School math teacher Kevin Kirkland would be disciplined as long as she “did not go to the press,” according to the lawsuit filed this week in San Bernardino County Superior Court. The suit claims that district officials knew of problems with Kirkland dating back to 2006. In 2016, the district tried to dissuade a student from reporting the assault to police, according to the suit.

Betsy DeVosCalifornia State UniversityCharter SchoolsHigher EducationK-12LAUSD

Rodriguez resigns, a controversial assignment, Cal State faculty's concerns: What's new in education

Cal State University Chancellor Timothy P. White speaks during a Board of Trustees meeting in July. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Cal State University Chancellor Timothy P. White speaks during a Board of Trustees meeting in July. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

In and around Los Angeles:

  • Facing felony charges, L.A. Unified board president Ref Rodriguez said he would step down from the presidency but keep his seat on the board.

In California:

  • Cal State faculty spoke out against what they called the "hasty" decisions to ease requirements.
  • California's college students are borrowing less than their peers in almost all other states.

Nationwide:

  • A South Carolina teacher asked students to explain the KKK's thinking.
  • The U.S. Department of Education said it would end its collaboration with an arm of the government that served as a watchdog for student loans.
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.
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