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Commentary: Another LAUSD school cancels sports while charter schools move full speed ahead

Eagle Rock attempts an extra point during a football game.
Eagle Rock will not have a football season or any sports competition this school year.
(Eagle Rock High football)

Supporters of the Los Angeles Unified School District and its teachers’ union mostly criticize independent charter schools. The usual complaints are charter schools choose the best students, discourage special education students and somehow have more money.

Regardless of their arguments, there’s one basic fact: Charter schools are finding ways to succeed during the COVID-19 pandemic while LAUSD schools continuously wait for a giant bureaucracy to make decisions.

Nothing is more telling than how charter schools are handling high school sports when compared with LAUSD schools. Charter schools El Camino Real and Birmingham began their boys’ soccer seasons this past week with each claiming 6-0 wins over private school powers Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and Studio City Harvard-Westlake.

El Camino Real has already played two football games, a baseball game and held three cross-country meets. Birmingham will play its first football game next week and has competed in water polo, cross-country and baseball.

Meanwhile, there are LAUSD schools still trying to begin football practices and Eagle Rock announced Thursday that all sports have been canceled.

Remember, LAUSD has been saying since August it would be prepared when it was safe to return to school. Los Angeles County is in the red tier and headed to the much-less-restrictive orange tier, and yet LAUSD schools and administrators are struggling compared with the independent charter schools.

Kim Tyler, the mother of an Eagle Rock soccer player, said her son learned of soccer being canceled through a closed LAUSD communication portal on Thursday. The school cited safety concerns regarding bus transportation, finding personnel to watch over spectators at games and quarantine protocols. On Saturday, she received an email from the school that athletes will be able to condition but not play in games.

“I wish there had been meetings with the parents prior to making the decision,” Tyler said in an email. “We’d certainly be willing to help if we could. We could agree not to attend games, we could drive players ourselves to the games, we could help sanitize equipment.

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“Mainly I’m sad for the players. They were excited to return, and it gave them something to look forward to. They need the physical and mental benefits sports provide. And I know the coaches have been working hard to make this happen.

“The guidance from the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and LA Public Health indicates that outside sports can be played safely with protocols in place. I understand and support that people have to make their own decisions about their own safety, but I feel like parents and students — who are the ones affected by this decision — should have at least been brought into the decision-making process.”

Eagle Rock football coach Andy Moran said that he has confidence in principal Mylene Keipp, who made the decision to cancel sports competition. “I don’t think it was an easy decision,” he said.

But it’s clear what’s happening: The charter schools are moving full speed ahead while LAUSD schools slowly try to regroup, while others have given up.

That’s the fact. The difference is dealing with a never-ending bureaucracy versus schools that can act immediately.


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