Wednesday, April 30, 2014
A CWC teacher took their class out to the playground during a time designated for the Stoner students. When the Stoner teacher requested that the CWC class yield the playground, instead of leave the playground in an orderly and civil fashion, the CWC teacher marched their student straight through the group of waiting Stoner students, and trampled over the Stoner students' backpacks and sweaters in the process.
I cannot believe that there would be so little space on the ample Stoner ES playground that the only path off the playground was straight through the Stoner students and over their belongings. Was it necessary to trample the Stoner students belonging when all they were asking was to use the playground when it was their time?
...and so what was the lesson imparted here to CWC and Stoner students:
That CWC students should be able to do whatever they want regardless of the rules and that if anyone speaks up for their rights, CWC students should continue to disrespect them and trample over them.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
I'm not posting a link to the comments, because the comments have tracked links. In a lapse of judgement, my wife clicked on one of the links from an email this person that said "Log in to your FB [Facebook]...and you will see what I mean." Of course, it was a tracked link and next thing she knew, her facebook account had been hacked. It was few days before she had realized the breach and changed her account settings.
Is this really how the CWC community conducts itself? Cyberbullying and hacking people's accounts? As "true" citizens wouldn't you want to engage in our democratic process and encourage dialog, not silence opposition by harassment and hacking.
On the plus side, since the harassment and cyber bullying from the CWC community has continued and only gotten worse, LAPD has opened an investigation on the email threats we have received in relation to Citizens of the World charter school.
Monday, April 28, 2014
[Flashback] CWC admin meets with Stoner parents, refuse to answer questions, parent demand an "Answer, answer!"
|Stoner community turns out to voice concerns about CWC|
FLASHBACK -- FLASHBACK
On February 13, 2014 LASUD hosted and moderated a meeting between Citizens of the World Charter Mar Vista administration and the Stoner Elementary community. The meeting began with CWC reciting platitudes about their commitment to community, diversity and education. It sounded like a good spiel, but once Stoner parents began asking questions, things went downhill fast.
Eighteen minutes in the meeting, I finally got the microphone. I had a list of prepared questions for the CWC admin. However, I never got past the first one because the principal and director could not respond to my first question.
|CWC admin, not answering and not looking too happy|
Principal Kerr and Director Held looked at each other with a deer in the headlights look, stunned by the questions and didn't say anything. I waited and still no response. They just kept looking at each other, while the audience sat in stunned silence. The silence was getting uncomfortable. So, I repeated by question "Who authorized giving the combination to the lock to all the CWC parents?" At this point Director Held began speaking and dancing around the question, but never gave an actual answer to the question.
Since they would not answer, the moderator decided to continue to more questions and passed the mic to the next person, my wife, who repeated the question a third time and still, the only answer we received was more silence while the Principal and Director looked at each other.
The crowd was incredulous and began chanting "Answer, answer!"
At that point, the meeting was basically over. If CWC could not give us a truthful answer to a straight forward question, how could we trust anything they were saying. Ultimately, we never received any answer to our straight-forward question about who was responsible for creating a major serious safety issue on our campus and yet the CWC director ended the meeting by claiming it was a success.
Obviously, we have a different understanding than CWC of what constitutes "success."
Friday, April 25, 2014
When someone raises concerns about CWC Mar Vista, instead of addressing the issues directly, CWC administration minimizes the problems, scapegoats the person raising concerns and labels them as anti-charter/anti-CWC. Then, the CWC community responds by directing online anonymous personal attacks against the person and their family. I know this because my family and I have been attacked by the CWC community for voicing our concerns. We have seen this behavior over and over again over the past few months. Is this really how citizens of the world behave themselves?
Sometime the attacks come as emails, sometimes posts on blogs and sometimes as comments on news stories about CWC.
In October 2013, the Argonaut wrote a story about the traffic woes cause by the co-location of CWC on the Stoner ES campus. In the comments section, you can see that the CWC community, over many months, overran the comments section and attacked me and my family with ridiculous claims and even posted links to assets held by family members in the area.
The attacks not only happen online, but in the real world too. CWC community members and supporters have called my brother's work and demanded that he be fired. They have dropped off letters at my parents house. They have even handed out fliers blaming me for all the problems with the co-location and at the same time making my daughter a target.Stoner parents have been followed home by CWC community members and harassed in the street by CWC founding parents for documenting the problems with the co-location.
Check out the comments section to any article (like here, or here) that shows CWC in a negative light and you will see that the comments quickly devolve into personal attacks against the author from anonymous individuals. It's very sad to see that this is how these citizens choose to conduct themselves, but I won't be deterred.
They have attacked me and my family, and have only steeled my resolve. I will stand strong to defend myself, my family, my community and my neighborhood school against these bullying attacks.
...and so I say, it's time to end the bullying from the CWC community. If they want to talk, they know where I live (since they posted that information online).
Thursday, April 24, 2014
On Friday, February 7, three members (shown in the pictures above) of the Citizens of the World Charter School Mar Vista community were seen in front of Stoner ES handing out out fliers containing a CWC logo that responded to the petition and 187 letters sent to CWC and LAUSD from the Stoner ES community. As you can see in highlighted section of the flier, CWC minimizes the complaints of the entire community and places the blame for all the problems on "the neighbor...who is a the preschool parent organizing the Stoner parents against CWC because he doesn't want traffic on his street.. "
After handing out their fliers, the three CWC members were seen at the CWC entrance on Lindblade fraternizing with the CWC principal and other CWC community members. In an email response to questions about this flier, the executive director denied that these people were affiliated with CWC.
Unless there is another neighbor that I am not aware of who has a daughter who is in pre-k and who lives on Stoner, Lindblade or Wagner, then they could only be talking about your humble blogger here. Why was it necessary to mention that my daughter was in pre-K and thus making her a target. After that CWC flier went out is when we started receiving anonymous threats from the CWC community.
A few days after the CWC flier was circulated, I received an email threat from someone representing themselves as from the CWC community and part of the Culver City gang (we'll have more on this in an upcoming FLASHBACK), basically, saying that if we didn't cut out what I was doing, they were going to organize "los del jarin" (Mar Vista Gardens) against us. There is only one way that I know of that gangs organize and that's not for a petition signing, protest or cupcake sale.
I was scared. I have lived in this neighborhood my whole life. I know these people don't joke around. I took this threat very seriously. We took the threat to the police, but they said they couldn't do anything because there was no direct threat. Yes, there was an implied threat, kind of like if the mafia showed up at your house and said "That's very nice family you have there. It'd be a shame if anything happened to them." There is no direct threat to your family, but you know what was meant.
We installed security cameras and upgraded all our locks, but we still did not feel safe with this threat hanging over our head. For the next month, we tried to stay out of our house as much as possible. When we were home, we stayed in doors with all doors and windows locked or in the backyard. I even considered pulling my child out of school and moving my family out of Del Rey.
Scared and not knowing where to turn, we reached out to the local community and let them know about the threat. These gangstas are people in our neighborhood. They are brothers, cousins, neighbors, former classmates, and people we go to church with, and while we do not love the sin, we still love the sinner. These people are part of our community. So, people who know people who know people who know people asked around about the threat. We eventually heard back that no, this threat was not from the gang. However, now, the gang was aware that the CWC community was using their reputation to menace and intimidate local residents and community activist who are working for the good of their neighborhood.
When the first tag went up, I freaked. Sometimes gangs will tag to show what is their turf. Was the message that CxC stood with CWC? Should I leave with my family and never return?
The next set of tags went up and I still didn't know what to make of it. When the third and worst set of tags went up, I thought oh no, but at the same time, I breathed a sigh of relief to see the messages "F--- you" with a tag of "CxC MVG" (Mar Vista Gardens). This, hopefully, meant that the threat against my family was not real, but sadly and unfortunately, this also meant that danger the CWC created was real, and that is not good for either school or the local community.
After having experienced over a month of insecurity, fear and doubt in my own home, I would not wish this upon anyone. My sympathies go out to the CWC students and families who have had to face this.
|Informational flier on car|
Early in the evening my family started noticing traffic on our residential street. Car were speeding, driving erratically, driving in the middle of the road, make fast U turns in driveways. When you see this kind of dangerous driving on our street, it can only mean there was a Citizens of the World Charter Mar Vista event going on. I pulled my daughters inside the house and told them they would not be able to play outside that evening like we usually do because of the traffic danger.
I went to see what the activity was all about and saw CWC was having yet another open house. I decided to distribute some informational fliers to those attending so that they could have a broader understanding of what was going on with this co-location.
As I was distributing fliers, a CWC parent called out to me "You are only hurting the children!" Oh on, I thought. Anytime a CWC parent has talked to me on the street, it ends with them yelling at me. I responded with a question "What about our children and what your school is doing to them?"
I reached out my hand and introduced myself. "Hi, I'm A--- Benitez. I live where those palm trees are." She gave a look of surprise like she had just seen the devil. She obviously knew who I was. So, I continued, "Yes, I'm that neighbor. The one CWC is placing all the blame on for the problems. I'm the only one with a yard sign. I'm the only one who signed a petition. I'm the only one who was present at all the demonstrations. The only one who is causing problem. I'm that neighbor." I took a breath and calmed down.
I told her I was well aware of what was being said about me and my family by the CWC community, and told her that the CWC community had made my family a target and that we had received gang threats and threats from the CWC community because of this.
She was surprised "Wait, I thought we [CWC] were the ones receiving gang threats." I explained to her the threat I received from some one who was representing themselves as part of the CWC community and the Culver City street gang. I explained how that threat from their community ultimately resulted in the graffiti on their school fence. She had no idea of any of this. I told her to check out my blog. I hope she's reading this right now. (Hi! Thanks for the conversation.)
We continued to talk about other issues with the co-location including the competition for resources on campus, the separate entrances, the parents in the bathroom, the spikes left by the CWC parents and a few other issues. It seemed like this was the first time she was hearing any of this. She didn't believe the spikes and I told that I could probably point one out right now. We walked a few feet before we found a spike inside campus under a CWC lunch table. I told her about the ordeal with the spikes.
The more we talked, the more I realized that the CWC community is not being told the truth. They are receiving a whitewashed, varnished version of the truth where anyone who brings up a problem is made a scapegoat for bringing up their concerns and this is exacerbating the problem with the co-location. Just like the April 8th CWC communication about the gang activity and traffic problems minimizes both problems and places the blame for the traffic problem on "A resident", CWC is sending a distorted message to their community about what is really going on and is trying to shift blame on to others. This is helping to fuel the tensions between the communities and is creating more problems for both communities.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
FLASHBACK - FLASHBACK - FLASHBACK
Early in the school year, Citizens of the World Charter Mar Vista began leaving its entrance gate unlocked and opened for the convenience of the CWC community. Parents could enter and leave campus as they pleased.* Deliveries could be made without checking who or what was coming on campus. This also meant that CWC students and Stoner ES students could just walk off campus. Which is exactly what happened.
A special needs CWC student did escape campus. CWC was unaware that the child had even left campus. Fortunately, the child was found down the street by conscientious citizen of our neighborhood. The neighbor found the child in her yard babbling incoherently. The neighbor looked around, waited and didn't see anyone with the child. So, the good citizen called the police and the CWC student was reunited with their family. CWC would later learn about the incident.
CWC's poor campus security decision to leave its gate open and unlocked had to be addressed. Their solution to the problem was to put a combination lock on the gate and give the combination to all the parents. We saw how well that turned out.
and, that's today's FLASHBACK.
*Considering the CWC parents have been seen entering the students only bathroom, it's very disturbing that CWC parents had such free and unfettered access to the campus.
I can't believe I found more CWC spikes in the street this morning. It's been a week and these things are still all over the place. It's sad that this cwc created danger continues in our community.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
[special snark edition] CWC does not take safety concerns seriously. How can we take them seriously?
Considering the graffiti this month and that my family was almost run over by a CWC parent, I wanted to see what CWC was telling their community about the gang and traffic safety issues. I made a California Public Records Act request and was , frankly, not surprised to see that CWC was minimizing the gang problems and placing blame for traffic/safety problems on "A neighbor" and not on the actual unsafe driving by the CWC community, but we'll get to all that in a second.
This letter was sent out to the CWC community by the CWC Executive Director on April 8, 2014. A JPG of the document is below if you'd like to see the original released document. Here on the blog, we are going to go through this document line by line and adding some annotations in red.
Monday, April 21, 2014
|CWC parent removing graffiti filled fence cover|
This last week was Spring break and school was out, but this doesn't mean CWC stopped creating safety issues in our community. Based on the orders of CWC administration, a group of CWC parents threw spikes on the sidewalk and street around the Stoner Elementary School campus**. If this sounds too crazy to be true, then please read on.
On Tuesday, April 22 around 6 pm, a crew of 3 Citizens of the World Mar Vista parents (and two children) were seen removing the tagged up CWC fence covering. An hour later, the fence covering was down, but the removal started a multiple day safety issue in our neighborhood.
|CWC spikes picked up on April 15|
My wife, a neighbor and I spent an hour cleaning up the spikes. We picked up all that we could find on the sidewalk and street, but could see many more spikes inside campus that we could not reach.
I alerted CWC (and cc'd LAUSD) to the danger and asked that CWC come an clean up the dangerous situation that they created. I received no response.
|More CWC spikes April 18|
On Saturday morning, I emailed CWC to follow up and demanded that they clean up this safety issue immediately. These spikes should have never been in the street in the first place and should have been immediately removed when CWC was notifed of the danger on Wednesday morning.
The CWC principle responded that she would deal with problem in a day or two. A concerned LAUSD administrator immediately responded to the principle's email saying that if CWC could not be there that day, she would go herself.
An hour later, I get an email from the CWC principle saying that she inspected the area and didn't see any problem. She also thanked me for alerting her to the problem (but not for cleaning up their dangerous mess that CWC created, but just for alerting her to the problem; a problem that she did not see as serious and thought could be addressed in a few days.) An hour after that, I received an email from CWC director stating that she had just been to the area and there was "not much to speak of" and that she cleaned up a few remaining brackets.
|More CWC spikes found April 19 using magnet|
Ten minutes after receiving the directors email, I went to inspect the area myself. I took a magnet on a string and went "fishing" for brackets with my daughters. We found another two dozen brackets in the street and on the sidewalk.
These brackets left on the ground are basically spikes that could cause serious injury. These brackets were left on the ground by the CWC parents who removed the fence covering. These spikes in the community are an example of the problems that occur when volunteer parents are performing the functions and duties of paid professionals. As such, these "helpful" parents end up creating more problems for all involved.
This is another disturbing example of the safety issues CWC is bringing to our campus and neighborhood. It's troubling that even when a safety issue is pointed out to CWC administration, they either do not see a problem (principle) or try to minimize the extent of the problem (director). These spikes should have never been left on the street and sidewalk in the first place, and should have been addressed and cleaned up when CWC was first alerted to the danger, not days later after multiple complaints.
**Just so I am clear, I'm not saying that CWC directly ordered parents to throw spikes in the street, but CWC's reckless order to have volunteer parents remove the fence covering resulted in the spikes being thrown in the street. Therefore, based on the orders of CWC admin, CWC parents were throwing spikes in the streets.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Just like many of the other issues with the co-location of CWC on the Stoner ES campus, what is a source of pride for CWC, is a sore point for everyone else. To CWC, the fence covering gave a "A feeling of cocoon-like safety by being surrounded by a beautiful and private fence." and was "Helping the space to feel 'kinder and gentler...'" To the Stoner and local community the covering represented separation and segregation, entitlement and elitism, and a lack of respect for the local community.
The fence covering has been a sore point since it was first put up. One day, the neighborhood was an open and inviting place, then without warning, there was separation and the claim that fence covering was for a "true community."
The fence covering was one of the most blatant examples of the segregation that CWC is bringing to the Stoner ES campus. The separation and inequality was even written directly on the fence covering: "A true community of learners." This phrase was written in two places on the fence covering. Could they not realize how insulting this message would be to the home school and surrounding community? "A true community" What does that say to the people in the community who live in the area? Are we not a real community? Was CWC even aware that the Stoner motto is "a learning community?" If CWC is a "true" community and "true" learners, what does that say to the Stoner students? Are they a false community? Are they untrue learners?
Everyday local residents and Stoner students had to pass by this backhanded insult to our community and school. Residents and Stoner parents complained about the fence covering, but their pleas fell on deaf ears and so resentment in community began to simmer.
On Friday March 7, a red "CxC" appeared on the fence covering over the CWC logo. The tag was quickly covered over in white, but was still visible.
The following Monday, March 10, two new CxC tags showed up.
Then on April 6 the fence covering tagged all over. This time with a stronger profanity filled message.
The covering is down now. For the safety of the neighborhood and school, let's hope the covering stays down.
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Today's parent liaison meeting was cancelled and will be rescheduled for after Spring break.
This is a rather disappointing turn of events. There are pressing issues to discuss, most importantly safety.
With the latest graffiti incident, it should be a priority to get both schools parents together as soon as possible to discuss safety for the entire campus.
Plus, we still have a safety problem on campus of CWC parents entering the students only bathroom. The signs have been changed three times, getting bigger each time, and still the message is not getting through.
Also, we have the issue of traffic and pedestrian safety on the streets around the Cwc entrance.
Oh, and there is also....I guess we'll have to wait another two weeks.
Monday, April 7, 2014
This is getting ridiculous. Over the weekend, CWC's fence covering was tagged up really badly.
While we here at this blog do not condon this behavior, it is not surprising given the neighborhood and the on going problems with this charter co-location.
There is an old folks tale in the neighborhood; a legend, really. When the land was filled with chaos, and lawlessness abound, only the lawless were able to bring order and safety to this land.
During the 1992 LA Riots, the city was in chaos. Police and firefighter were busy stopping looting and fires all over the city.
As the legend goes, a group of Culver City gang members met and decided they were not going to let their neighborhood be looted and burned to the ground. Their top priorities were the Johnston's Market (now Northgate) and Stoner Elementary because that's where their moms shop and that's where their families go to school.
Like some kind of scene out of a movie, groups of cholos lined their cars up in the Stoner and Top Value parking lots with their headlights on facing out to the street and stood guard.
...and so, in our city's darkest hour, CxC became the unlikely protectors of the neighborhood; These hommies turned heros, these gangstas turned guardians, these sinners acting as saints; they kept order and protected the neighborhood's most valuable assets. While the rest of the city burned, no harm reached our sleepy corner of LA.
Now, there is a new threat to the neighborhood. Our children are not safe at school and are facing segregated conditions. The streets are dangerous. There have been complaints filed, letters written, and protests held asking for relief from these unjust conditions, and yet the authorities do nothing.
When the law refuses to act...
Friday, April 4, 2014
Embarrassed? Really? What is wrong with these citizens? Yes, how embarrassing would it be to have run over my wife, infant daughter and nephew in a crosswalk while driving reverse? When you almost run over someone because of your recklessness, a shrug is not the correct response. A mea culpa for this dangerous behavior should have been in order, but this shameless behavior from the CWC community is not surprising.
CWC has a culture of entitlement that manifests itself as disrespect to the community and a flouting of the law when they are in our neighborhood. During drop off and pick up times our quiet residential street turns into a lawless land where people do whatever they want: drive in the middle of the street, park in the red, block driveways and even drive in reverse down the street among other offenses. It’s not surprising that we are still seeing traffic issues on Lindblade and that the problems are becoming worse.
Let’s look at few examples from just yesterday:
- Here is a CWC car parked at 7:43 AM in the bus loading zone which begins at 7 AM*
- Here we have a CWC car parked in front of a driveway
- …and the worst one:
• Doesn’t stop at stop sign going south on Stoner Ave.
• Parks in red zone in front of fire hydrant
• Reverses into an intersection
• Drives through a cross walk
• Does not stop at stop sign going west on Lindblade St.*
(*This may not be illegal since he was technically never behind the stop sign because he drove through the crosswalk…oh, right.)
What makes this most infuriating is that this citizen is illegally parked just few feet away from the loading zone that was created for CWC and that upset local residents by taking away parking spot from the community. Why would someone feel so entitled and exempt from the law that they think that this behavior was acceptable? Is this how these worldly citizens behave in their own neighborhood or just ours?
The traffic safety has been an on-going issue with this colocation. On October 16 2013, the Argonaut ran a story on the traffic problems caused by the colocation of Citizens of the World Mar Vista on the Stoner Avenue Elementary campus. It’s been 5 months and just like most all the other complaints against CWC, the situation has only gotten worse.
What can be done about this charter school’s community lack of basic citizenship and the safety problems that it causes? We don’t want to wait until we have a tragedy on the street like happened at CWC Hollywood until something is done about the safety in the neighborhood.
Yesterday, I was very lucky that my family was not hurt or worse. If CWC’s community behavior continues, someone else might not be so lucky.
Ignoring the problems caused by CWC, Stoner parents priorities include:
-classes in civics
-increase in teacher pay
-music, art & dance
-increase parental involvement and development.
-increase in instruction time
We were also informed that our request for instruments for our school had been placed. We are excited and looking forward to having a strong music and art program at Stoner ES.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
ATTENTION blog followers: No need to call the riot police, it's just another announcement of an LAUSD official visiting Stoner ES.
Tomorrow at 8:30, LAUSD council member Steve Zimmer will be visiting Stoner ES to discuss the LCFF.
This is a great chance to let LAUSD know how we would like this money spent:
-smaller class sizes
-more instruction time
-dance, music & art programs