District may seek waiver from 'lowest performing' label

Glendale Unified officials are decrying a state decision to put Benjamin Franklin Elementary on the list of California's 1,000 lowest-performing schools.

Known as the Open Enrollment Act list, it comes from legislation drafted by former state Sen. Gloria Romero and signed into law in 2010.

Each year, it presents the state's lowest-scoring schools according to their Academic Performance Index, or API, scores.

The list is meant to inform the public of the state's lowest-performing schools, allowing parents the choice to enroll their children elsewhere when a campus underperforms.

Of the 1,000 scores compiled in late 2012, the lowest API score was 409 and came from an Oakland Unified high school. Meanwhile, Franklin Elementary scored 802 on the API, which meets the state's API target goal of 800 or above.

The magnet school known for attracting students to its language immersion programs was one of more than 80 schools on the list with an API score of 800 or higher.

It marks the second consecutive year Franklin has landed on the list. Last year, the school was removed after Glendale Unified officials secured a waiver.

“I behaved myself last time and this time I find it harder to do so,” Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan said at a recent school board meeting. “I will use the term ‘asinine.'”

He also took the legislation that created the list to task.

“We are in a situation where Ms. Romero left us with her thousand lowest-achieving schools and it is off of legislation ill-conceived, ill-written, and we will be filing for a waiver for Franklin,” Sheehan said.

The rules that determine which schools land on the list are part of a “flawed” process, said Kelly King, director of Glendale Unified's categorical programs.

When the state collects the lowest API scores from schools, only the scores of 165 middle schools, 148 high schools and 687 elementary schools can be included on the list.

Additionally, no district can have more than 10% of its schools included in the list.

“It's a great example of how the intent of the law and the actual implementation of the law differ,” King said. “It's not fair to the families or to the kids or to the teachers for them to be high achieving on one hand and low achieving on the other.”

The Glendale school board will formally decide whether to seek a waiver for the second time in the coming weeks.


Follow Kelly Corrigan on on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World