“My child was cyber-bullied by one of her classmates,” says a mom from one of the local school districts in Los Angeles County. Fortunately for this mom she knew what to do. Thanks to One Million NIU trainers Camille and Anna, this parent made a screen print of the cyber-bullying message and took the issue up with the school principal. The perpetrator of the cyber-bullying was subsequently suspended and peace of mind was restored to the child being bullied.
Many cyber-crimes are being committed against and targeted at our children, which makes it imperative to get parents the on-line tools they need to protect their children on the Internet. Commissioner Timothy Simon of the California Public Utilities Commission told me, “law enforcement’s number one issue is identifying predators who are attempting to do bad things to our children posing as someone they are not.”
The One Million NIU Initiative is teaching parents across the state how to protect their children from these on-line predators. One mom from the Duarte Unified School District told one hundred parents, community members and administrators in the audience at her One Million NIU graduation ceremony, “there are a lot of sick people out there” and was thankful the school district and the NIU Team joined forces to teach her how to better protect her child from on-line predators. No doubt, knowledge begets transparency, and those school districts that have embraced the NIU Initiative are reaping significant benefits for their parents and the children in their schools.
Which begs the question: What in the world is going on at LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District)? Parent’s worlds have been rocked by the recent sexual abuse allegations at Miramonte Elementary School and at another school in the district. According to some parents who currently have children enrolled in LAUSD schools, not enough is being done to create the transparency needed to make the schools safer. The newly formed – cornerstone parent component of LAUSD, Parents as Equal Partners Advisory Committee, is supposed to be the vehicle to create the transparency, giving parents a voice and access to the system. However, based on the two meetings I have attended, as a parent advocate and concerned citizen, LAUSD seems to be going in the opposite direction of greater transparency.
“Parents as Equal Partners Advisory Committee (PEPAC), has made quorum on only one occasion in it’s almost 9 months of existence,” said Roberto Fonseca, the President of the District Advisory Committee (DAC) for LAUSD. The DAC is a state mandated parent Title I committee. With two armed and uniformed school police officers stationed at the door during the PEPAC meetings, our undocumented parents appear to be unwelcomed, even though a sizeable share of the hundreds of millions of dollars in Title I funding is a result of the undocumented families attending LAUSD schools. Beyond the unwelcoming nature of the PEPAC meetings are it’s diversity challenges. Not a single parent on the Executive Committee is Latina. LAUSD’s student body is comprised of more than 80% Latinos.
PEPAC was not elected/formed by the parents of LAUSD. In fact, PEPAC has less than 4 parents, in a committee of 30 adults, who have children currently enrolled in the district. A former Judge who now has a child attending LAUSD schools said, “PEPAC has violated both Brown and/or Green Acts in each of the meetings they have convened.” Given the public nature of both the building and the funding to which the PEPAC has oversight, this could possibly warrant an investigation by the state.
These intolerable circumstances must be corrected immediately. This can be accomplished with greater parent access and increased ownership avenues for parents. A cure could be to create a position for parents equal in hierarchy to the Superintendent of LAUSD. In so doing, the elected School Board can hear directly from their parents, in an official capacity. Precedence for this position is the Special Counsel appointed in 2004, where the LAUSD school board voted to get their own attorney. Here, they get their own parent advocate, a key to increasing transparency and the immediate safety of our children. Parents: their money, their schools.
L.A. Ortega is president of the non-profit corporation Community Union, Inc, which provides computer technology training and computer redeployment programs to youth and adults from 8 Community Technology Centers located throughout the greater Los Angeles region. He can be reached at Lortega@communityunion.org.Posted - Copyright © 2022 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.