An Open Letter to LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner

FIRST PERSON-I am a whistle blower and ex-LAUSD teacher who was fired in 2010 on completely fabricated charges, even though I had well-documented evidence and an exemplary 20-year teaching career.

Why was I fired? Because I dared to report rampant fraud in both LAUSD's financial and academic functions, which continues to put the District on the verge of bankruptcy. 

Although many have told me that you are merely the latest iteration of superintendent bent on moving LAUSD toward privatization for corporate vendor profit, with little regard for improving LAUSD's academic achievement, your recent excursions around LAUSD have given me a glimmer of hope. I am pleased that you have gone into offices and asked employees what they are actually doing on a day-to-day basis. Perhaps your experience as a businessman, philanthropist and teacher will lead you to finally address and fix an LAUSD that 40 years ago was actually better able to educate all its students, doing so at a fraction of the cost to our society. These unnecessary costs now include the deferred costs of the criminal justice system that must clean up the mess that entrenched LAUSD bureaucrats have created by falsifying grades, assessments, and attendance. This practice has left ex-students of LAUSD on the street without the education to become productive working members of our society. 

When you were hired as superintendent, the fact that you didn't have an education background was criticized as a deficit, but I think nothing could be further from the truth. On the contrary, the real deficit seen in all your predecessors was their lack of business and legal experience needed to run LAUSD, a district that is, in the final analysis, one of the biggest businesses in the state, despite its non-profit status. 

Most of your predecessors at LAUSD have risen to the Superintendent position by moving up from teaching into various higher echelons of LAUSD administration -- but only if they have done what they have been asked to do by superiors, with no questions asked and whether it makes any sense or not. So now you have to deal with an LAUSD administration that is an entrenched administrative bureaucracy in which nobody thinks. Administrators and others just rubber stamp whatever their superiors request. 

While this is pervasive throughout the District and directly responsible for the dire financial and academic straits LAUSD presently finds itself in, it is not a phenomenon at just the lower levels of the District, but also permeates a captive Board. 

One example to show how high up this dysfunction goes can be seen by looking at the career of your interim LAUSD superintendent predecessor Vivian Ekchian, whose success at LAUSD is directly attributable to her willingness to sign any document placed before her, whether or not she had any actual knowledge of the facts involved. 

So, you have a choice. You can either depend on LAUSD's entrenched, self-serving bureaucracy for the information necessary to fix LAUSD definitively or you can ask me and all the other credible people who can give you proof to substantiate our allegations. Alas, most of these folks have already been targeted and removed from the District for having dared to challenge the LAUSD party line, but a bright guy like you should have no trouble determining who is telling you the truth. As for me, I would be happy to tell you what I know for free with no conflict of interest, given that I am no longer an LAUSD employee.

 

(Leonard Isenberg is a Los Angeles, observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He was a second- generation teacher at LAUSD and blogs at perdaily.com. Leonard can be reached at Lenny@perdaily.com.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.