School's Parent Council Calls for LEARN Executive to Resign

TIMES EDUCATION WRITER

The parent council at a Hollywood Hills LEARN school has called for the resignation of LEARN's chief executive after learning that he put his children in private school.

In a turbulent meeting Thursday night, the decision-making council at Valley View Elementary School voted to draft a letter to Mike Roos, president of Los Angeles Educational Alliance for Restructuring Now, saying that he had betrayed the mission of the nonprofit organization.

Roos has led LEARN since it was created in 1993 to coordinate reforms on Los Angeles Unified School District campuses that would boost achievement and increase confidence in public education. Nearly half the district's 660 campuses have become LEARN schools.

The Times reported Wednesday that Roos has put his two school-age daughters in a Larchmont-area private school.

Roos said he decided to remove the older daughter from his neighborhood public school, also part of LEARN, only for a year until she and her younger sister could attend together.

Valley View parent Hall Davidson dismissed that explanation as "malarkey" in an emotional speech to about 30 parents in the school auditorium.

"You cannot ask parents to get involved and go the last mile if you don't yourself," Davidson said.

Davidson proposed that the council, which has been in a two-year negotiation with Los Angeles school officials to get a new principal, "symbolically" drop out of LEARN for six months on the understanding that it would actually withdraw if Roos had not left his $200,000-a-year post by then.

Council Chairman David Michaels said the parent leadership group could not decide to withdraw without asking the views of all the school parents, but had no objection to a letter demanding Roos' departure.

The debate stirred deep feelings among the council members over their struggle to remove a principal whom they consider to be out of step with the LEARN reforms. One of LEARN's central tenets is allowing parents, teachers and staff members to vote on leadership issues--including the power to remove their principal, under certain conditions.

Several parents said they thought the process had let them down. Others blamed the school's spotty test scores--below the national average in most grade levels--on the turmoil involving the principal, who took a medical leave early this semester but has yet to be permanently replaced.

"I've been saying for a year it is time to detach from LEARN," one parent said.

But some said that despite their frustration they did not want to even threaten dropping out because they thought the reform effort had helped the school.

By a unanimous show of hands, the council agreed to have Davidson draft the letter, which it will review early next week before mailing.

Informed of the action Friday, Roos said he had no intention of resigning.

"It continues to be the most exciting thing I can do with my time," he said of the job.

Roos said he had great empathy for those involved in "a regrettable situation" at the school, but said LEARN gives them bargaining power they would otherwise not have.

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