Supt. allows permits to stand

GLENDALE — The more than 500 students who live in Los Angeles but attend Glendale Unified schools won a one-year reprieve this week from a plan that would have closed the borders between the two districts.

Glendale Unified was poised to lose $2.5 million in attendance-based revenue if all of its Los Angeles-based students had their inter-district permits revoked, but an announcement by Los Angeles Unified Supt. Ramon Cortines on Tuesday put the possible move off until the next school year.

Like Los Angeles Unified and other districts statewide, Glendale Unified this year filed a “qualified” budget, which is an admission that it might not meet its financial obligations moving forward.

“This year we are dodging a bullet,” Deputy Supt. Dick Sheehan said. “What this does is it buys us time as well, to react to what they’re considering.”

In February, Los Angeles Unified officials proposed recalling all students on inter-district permits. After outcry from parents, officials tweaked the policy to exclude high school students and those who were in their final year of elementary and middle school or children of district employees.

At a school board meeting Tuesday, Cortines postponed the policy, but made it clear the issue would be reexamined as early as September.

At stake locally is the future of nascent Italian- and other dual-language immersion programs, known as the Foreign Language Academy of Glendale, Sheehan said.

Franklin and Edison elementary schools could have had their dual-language immersion programs depleted of enrolled students if Los Angeles Unified revoked the permits.

“To lose the students and the parents who have made these things so wonderful so far . . .  it’s heartbreaking,” said Amiee Klem, whose daughter is in the Italian program at Franklin, which draws half of its students from outside Glendale.

Affected parents were instructed to appeal their revoked permits and demonstrate that Los Angeles Unified lacked a similar dual-language immersion program.

Because Los Angeles Unified lacks a similar program where students are instructed 90% in a foreign language and 10% in English in the first year, parents could argue the Glendale program was unique, Sheehan said.

“[But] if Los Angeles Unified were to do a comparable program, they could pull them back,” he said. “We think these are very fundamentally sound programs that we look to build upon for our future. These have big impacts on Glendale.”

The programs take years to get fully operational. The Italian class, for example, will expand into first grade next year as the current class moves through the system.

More than 100 of the 500 students on inter-district permits are in a FLAG program.

District officials continue to review each case and identify resources that can keep students attending Glendale schools, Sheehan said.

“Everybody is trying to do what’s right for their own students,” he said. “We want a working relationship with [Los Angeles Unified] and not [something] adversarial, because ultimately we’re talking about students.”

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