Election season was clearly over on Tuesday afternoon as the LAUSD set about to fulfill the legal requirement of getting public input into the Local Control Funding Formula. Outgoing District 3 representative Tamar Galatzan did not even bother to show up to the meeting. District 2’s Monica Garcia left as public comment began. Even George McKenna’s seat was empty before the last speaker had a turn at the podium.
A limited audience was not the only barrier faced by stakeholders who wanted to present their concerns to the Board. In case the inconvenient start time of 2:30 was not enough to dissuade people from attending, the board set a limit of 75 speakers, each of whom were allowed to speak for two minutes. They were warned in advance that the Board “would not be rude” about enforcing this limit, the mike would just be cut.
When adult speakers went over their allotted time, Board President Richard Vladovic summoned his patience to politely remind them to wrap up their comments. However, when a young adult pushed the limit in expressing his frustration with the district, the Vladovic with anger management issues was on full display. When the speaker proved that he would not need a mike to finish his comments, Vladovic sent the school police in to remove him from the podium.
As the assembly line of speakers neared its end, Jose Gallegos stepped up to the podium. He began by requesting that the clock not be started until all Board members had put down their phones so that they could pay attention. When he realized that this request had been counted against his time, he declared the situation “f***ed up.”
He then shared his thoughts about how the district had failed him. He told the story of his sister who was unable to walk at graduation because of an inflexible attendance policy. Realizing that his time was about to expire, he declared his intention to finish his thoughts. The mike was cut and the school police were sent in. One witness stated that they had their hands on their guns.” Unintimidated, the speaker continued.
Unwilling to back down, Vladovic reacted to the situation by calling for an adjournment of the meeting. When audience members complained that he could not end the meeting because everyone had not had a chance to speak, Vladovic responded that “we can do what we want, ma’am.”
In the end, the “adjournment” was changed to a “recess” and the last few speakers were allowed their turn at the podium. However, the message was clear, the Board really did not care what any of them had to say. They are going to do what they want. So much for “parent and community engagement.”
(Carl Petersen posts at Change the LAUSD and was candidate for the LA School Board.)
Vol 13 Issue 50
Pub: Jun 19, 2015