Thursday, October 29, 2015

ICEF under investigation by LAUSD CSD Oversight Team

ICEF public charter schools under investigation by LAUSD Charter School Division Oversite Team
ICEF under investigation
Last week, I received an email from the LAUSD Charter School Division (CSD) informing me that CSD Petition Oversight Team would be investigating complaints against ICEF for the following:

1.      ICEF Vista students have been accepting items under and through the Stoner Avenue Elementary School fence on almost a daily basis;
2.      ICEF Vista school lunch server leaving ICEF Vista on the Stoner ES campus with two large bags filled with food;
3.    ICEF automated schoolwide phone call (i.e. robo-call, connect-ed) earlier this year soliciting donations and gifts for a baby shower for ICEF Vista Director Kristen Buczek. The baby shower was held on campus.
4.      ICEF inability to comply with the California Public Records Act
5.      ICEF home office denied access to inspect the Parent Volunteer logs
6.      ICEF use of public funds for defamation and libel.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

ICEF Vista breaks rules and puts campus safety at risk

ICEF Vista Elementary Charter School Academy puts students at risk by using unsecured canopy on campus in violation of safety rules
ICEF Vista uses unsecured canopy in violation of school safety rules
Little did I realized that the incident about ICEF Vista smuggling items on to the Stoner Avenue Elementary School campus would result in a second complaint.
  For quite a while now, ICEF Vista has been using a canopy shade all over campus.

   What's the problem with that?

    Well, last year, Stoner ES parents met with LAUSD officials to discuss shade options for the campus like trees, overhangs and canopies.  One of the things that parents were told was that due to safety reasons, canopies could not be used on campus. The structures were not secured and could easily blow over and hurt someone. It might sound ridiculous, but them's the rules and everyone on campus needs to abide by the rules for the safety of all.

    Yet, for quite sometime ICEF has been following its own rules and has used the canopy not only in the ICEF lunch area, as pictured, but also in the play yard where the danger of this unsecured structure blowing over and hurting someone was even greater.
ICEF Vista canopy since September

    A col-located charter school should not be able to put people on campus in danger to have a special advantage over the regular school.
      Even something as simple as shade is a resource that should be evenly distributed. The ICEF side of campus should not have special privileges to make their own rules.

Friday, October 23, 2015

ICEF community smuggles items on to Stoner ES campus

ICEF students accepting items through and under school fence
ICEF students handed items thru fence while
ICEF staff is only a few feet away

    For a few weeks now, Stoner Avenue Elementary School parents have been concern that ICEF Vista students are accepting items through and under the school fence on almost a daily basis.

    Presumably, it is just ICEF parents bringing their children lunch, but if it is, then why are the parents not going to the main office to drop of the lunch, or signing in at the office so that they can go on campus and hand their child the lunch. Something about smuggling "lunch" under the fence on to my children's campus just doesn't feel right.

ICEF students accepting items
under the school fence
    Considering that there was a recent incident where a gun was brought on to an ICEF campus, Stoner parents are greatly concerned that ICEF might not be following all safety protocols while co-locating at Stoner ES this year.

   Even more concerning is that this smuggling is done in plain view of ICEF staff. Does ICEF really believe that this practice of handing items through the fence is acceptable?

     Stoner ES parents are greatly concerned. They don't know if what is being smuggled on to campus is a gun, contraband or a baloney sandwich. Parents are demanding that this practice be stopped immediately.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

ICEF Vista uses public resources to throw a baby shower

Stoner Avenue Elementary School Orchestra shines at Del Rey Day 2015
Stoner Avenue Elementary School Orchestra shines at Del Rey Day 2015
    This weekend, Del Rey held its annual Del Rey Day celebration at Glenn Alla Park.  The event was awesome!  There was good food, good friends and great music.
     The Stoner Avenue Elementary school orchestra was one of the featured performers. The orchestra was great. It was exciting to see how the music program has evolved and grown since it began last year.
    While chilling at the event, I was talking to a group of neighbors who are also ICEF Vista parents.  I don't know if it was for my benefit, but the parents began complaining about the ICEF administration. The parents complained about the inexperienced staff at the school and home office, the lack of responsiveness from the administration, and the continual requests for donations and volunteer hours.
   Then one parent mentioned that they were most disturbed by the request for gifts for a baby shower for ICEF Vista Director Kristen Buczek. The others agreed and said they were very annoyed and peeved about this solicitation of gifts for the director.
   I was stunned and asked what happened. The parents complained that earlier this year, ICEF had sent a school wide automated telephone message (i.e. robo-call) to all parents soliciting gifts for Director Buczek's baby shower which was being held on campus. They said the solicitation was similar to all the others solicitations for donations that they had received and so many parents contributed without realizing that they did not have to. Parents were told the sex of the baby, preferred colors and even given suggestions on gifts.
   The parents said that they felt that if they did not donate to this or the many other ICEF Vista donation drives and pleas for volunteer work, their children might face bullying from other students for "not supporting the school." They claimed that some parents donate money or serve minimal volunteer hours just to avoid problems for their children.

.......and, so, the Adventures continue!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

ICEF board meeting Oct 15 - $200K for lawyers, 3 expulsions & a gun on campus

On October 15, I attended the monthly ICEF Board meeting to complain about issues related to the co-location at Stoner.

ICEF Public Charter School Home office
ICEF Home office reception
When I arrived the meeting was still in closed session. I took a seat in the waiting area. As I waited, one ICEF parent began complaining loudly that she had requested a copy of the agenda the previous week from ICEF CEO Parker Hudnut, but received no response. She was quite indignant and decided not to stay for the meeting.

    As I continued to wait, another ICEF parent complained to ICEF staff member Linda Christiansen regarding an incident where a gun was brought on to an ICEF campus. Linda looked at me and then told the parent not to say the name of the school because she already knew what incident she was talking about. Linda mentioned that the school was not randomly "wanding" the students like they were supposed to. The parent said she was very concerned, but oddly did not bring this up at the meeting.

    The actual meeting was pretty dull. It started with ICEF summarizing the closed door session. In the closed session, ICEF Board approved to expel 3 students.  This was only a few week into the school year. I wondered if this had anything to do with the gun on campus.
    The meeting continued and at one point, ICEF mentioned that they were setting aside $200,000 for legal fees for this year. I don't know if the amount was mentioned to put me on notice, but all it did was give me a minimum suggested budget.

ICEF Board Meeting October 15, 2015 - Park Hudnut, Greg Brendel, Linda Christiansen
ICEF Board Meeting October 15, 2015
    At the end of the meeting was the public comments section. During my comments, the ICEF Board sat and listened but did not seemed to care at all what I was saying. It just looked like they wanted me to hurry up and finish so the meeting would end.

    End it did, and I was just left with more questions. So, I have been submitting more public records act requests in search of answers.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

LAUSD SSC Training turns in to charter co-location complaints

    This past weekend, LAUSD held training for School Site Council members at Horace Mann Middle School.
    You might remember Horace Mann was mentioned on this blog a year ago when COW Mar Vista was offered co-location space on that campus.  COW refused the space. I wonder if it had anything to with the fact the Horace Mann is a block away from Florance and Normandiae, where the LA Riots started in 1992.
    I personally thought the school looked great.  There were awesome murals on every inch of the hallways and the LAUSD staff went out of their way to make the visit to Horrace Mann a great experience. might be saying to yourself, that's great, but what does that have to with the co-location adventures today.
    Well, after getting a coffee and sitting at a table, I waited for the opening session of the training to begin. I started talking to the other parents around me and we weren't two minutes into the conversation when 2 parents began complaining about charter school co-locations at their campus. Everyone else at the table joined in an related their charter school horror stories.
   Sometimes, I think I maybe the only one who is concerned with the injustice that charter school co-locations create, but after meeting so many involved and active LAUSD parents at the training, I came to realize that the charter problem is something just about every LAUSD school is dealing with.
   Parents had various complaints from charters cherry picking students, to the loss of resources and classroom space to the separate and unequal conditions created by the charters.
   It was quite sad to hear these complaints, but it was also heartening to listen to all the parents who wanted the best for all students in LAUSD and were willing to work hard for to make this happen.

Friday, October 16, 2015

ICEF Amateur Hour - ICEF denies access to inspect public records

Sometimes I can't help but laugh at ICEF's amateur hour follies. They are almost too predicable...

Today, I finally had sometime during ICEF office hours to inspect the ICEF Vista charter school Parent Volunteer logs I've been trying to get my hands on.

August 17, I requested access to the logs.
September 11, ICEF's lawyer wrote in a postal letter that the documents would be available for inspection on Sept 22 at 10:30 PM.

    Yet today when I went in to inspect the records, ICEF CFO/CCO Greg Brendel denied access to inspect the records. At one point, frustrated and upset, Brendel shouted "I done playing games with you."
       That's funny, I didn't know he was playing games. I have a serious interest in reporting on ICEF since ICEF has moved in across the street from my house on the same campus that my children attend. The only way I can provide accurate reporting is to have access to ICEF's records which are public records. Under the California Public Records, these records should be available for inspection at all times during office hours.
     What does ICEF have to hide? Why are they not making these records available as they are supposed to under law?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

ICEF removes "volunteer" requirement after complaints from this blog

ICEF Vista allows parents to complete  "volunteer" requirement by donating good
ICEF Vista allows parents to complete
"volunteer" requirement by donating goods.
      In previous years, ICEF Vista required its parents to sign an agreement that they would complete 40 hours of required volunteer service for ICEF.  If parents could not provide the 40 hours, they were allowed to donate goods to complete their service requirement.
    This volunteer requirement is a violation of both California Constitution Article 9 sec. 5 and Education Code § 49011(b)(4) and creates an undue burden on the parents of a public school.
    In August 17, I submitted a public records request to see the ICEF Vista Parent handbook for 2015/16. ICEF responded and said the handbook was at the printers and would be available on August 28.
    When I spoke with ICEF's lawyers on Friday, August 28 regarding another records request, I mentioned the required volunteer hours were a violation of state law. Suddenly, there was a delay in the release of the handbook book because ICEF claimed there were type-o's in the handbook that need to be corrected.
    When ICEF finally release the handbook on September 22, the volunteer requirement was mysteriously gone from their handbook.
    Unfortunately, by this time, many parents had already donated goods to cover the hours they thought they were required to complete.  The picture below is from the first day of school. On that first day, many parents showed up with bags full of supplies for the school.
ICEF Vista parents donating goods on the first day of school  to complete the "volunteer" requirement
ICEF Vista parents donating goods on the first day of school
 to complete the "volunteer" requirement
      I spoke with some of the ICEF parents, and many of them were still under the impression that the required volunteer hours had to be completed and so they donated goods on the first day so that they could complete the requirement. Some ICEF parents were quite upset when they learned that they did not have to complete the "volunteer" requirement.
     I am glad that ICEF removed the "volunteer" requirement, but it's disturbing that it took investigative reporting from this blog for ICEF to comply with the law.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

ICEF Vista co-location: "definite divide" = separate and unequal

       When the idea of a co-location of ICEF Vista Charter School on the Stoner ES campus was presented to the ICEF Vista community, administration promised a "definite divide" between the Stoner ES students and ICEF charter students.
Definite divide: ICEF Vista students coned off from the rest of campus
Definite divide: ICEF Vista students coned off from the rest of campus
     We have seen this "definite divide" all over campus.  Whether it is our children being told to not use the bathrooms near the charter, the cones on the play ground,  the security guard on the ICEF side of campus, or the white versus blue shirt collars, signs of the separate and unequal "definite divide" are present all around on Stoner campus.
    ICEF parents, who wouldn't send their children to Stoner ES because Stoner is the school across the street from the projects, are more then happy to send their children to the same campus under the guise of a charter school.
   It is sad to see the parents, who were at Stoner a year or two ago and wouldn't even donate 10 minutes of their time to improve Stoner, switch over to ICEF where they are willing to sign an agreement to provide 40 hours of free work to the charter or if they can't work for 40 hours, they can pay for the volunteer time by "donating" supplies.
   This divide is not lost on the children.  The children can see the separate and unequal conditions on campus and disturbed by what they are living through.
   Many in the community are call the co-location a new segregation with separate and unequal conditions for students on the same campus.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

ICEF co-location traffic woes

ICEF Vista co-location brings traffic and safety issues:
4 cars enter the intersection of Stoner and Lindblade,
all four corners are coned off by ICEF
During the previous co-location, traffic and safety in the neighborhoods were the issues that initially alerted local residents to the problem of charter school co-location.

   We are once again seeing the same traffic and safety issues with the co-location of ICEF Vista.  ICEF parents are blocking crosswalks, parking in front of fire hydrants and generally bringing the same parking and safety issues as the previous co-location.
  The growing frustration with the parking situation has already led to some confrontations between ICEF and local residents, including an ugly incident I reported on where an ICEF parent hurled a racial slur at a neighbor.

  The first month of school was great. The parking in front of my house was always open and I had no traffic on my street. Those first few weeks, I would see the ICEF Principal or Vice Principal standing out on our street instructing ICEF parents not to drive that way.  Word on the street has it that ICEF was also telling its people not to park directly in front of my house.
   That was great for me but unfortunately, this meant that the traffic and parking issues were just being forced on the houses south of Stoner Avenue, and that is something I not cool with. I don't want to just move the problem down the street and have it effect my neighbor's quality of life.

    Now, that the honeymoon period of the first few weeks of school have passed, ICEF's community is falling into the same pattern of the previously co-located charter. Traffic and safety laws are being routinely ignored by the ICEF community. I am not hanging out on my street all day, every day, but it seems that every time I pass by I see an ICEF parent braking the law in the neighborhood.

    Here are just a few examples of what we are seeing:

2 car from ICEF block 1 driveway. 1 of the cars is in the red

ICEF parents parks in front of driveway while picking up a student

ICEF parent parks in red and in the cross walk to pick up student after school

ICEF parent parked in the bus zone at 7:45 AM.

Another ICEF car parked in the bus zone at 3:22 PM

ICEF car parked in red and obstructing view of the crosswalk from around the bend.

ICEF parent parks in front of fire hydrant to pick up student

Another ICEF parent parks in front of fire hydrant for pick up

ICEF Vice Principal Pope speaks to driver.

Monday, September 28, 2015

ICEF sent demand to cease and desist defamation against blogger

     On Friday September 18, 2015, I responded to ICEF's cease and desist letter to me and told them their first two demands were based on a lie and an absurd notion, and that I wouldn't agree to them.  It seems that the real point of their demand is that ICEF is upset at the reporting on the co-location that I am doing on this blog and is looking for any way to shut me down and shut me up even if it means running around and making up things about me.

ICEF, ICEF...pants on fire.
     The following Monday, September 21 2015, I sent ICEF a letter demanding that ICEF cease and desist their defamation against me.

   Specifically, in ICEF's cease and desist letter, ICEF's first claim is that I locked ICEF teachers and staff in campus.
   This is a LIE. I did no such thing and I will not let ICEF run around publishing false statements about me. ICEF is even using this lie as the basis for their legal action against me.
     That is why I had to send ICEF a letter demanding that they cease and desist their defamation of me.
     ICEF has until the end of the month to respond. I wonder if they will put out the fire or keep running around and fanning the flames.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

ICEF Amateur Hour - poor record keeping

Back in August, I made a public records request for the email addresses of the ICEF Board of Directors so that I could email these un-elected, appointed directors to complain about the conditions on the Stoner Avenue Elementary School campus caused by the co-location of ICEF Vista and ask them to not return next year.
ICEF provides incorrect information in response to public records request
ICEF provides incorrect information in response to public records request
     Greg Brendel, ICEF CFO/COO and ICEF Keeper of Records, responded to my request and provided me with 6 email addresses.

    However, when I tried to email the board, all six emails bounced back returning a message that the email address did not exist.
     It's very odd that the ICEF keeper of records would not have the correct email information for board members, especially since he runs the board meetings.

   This isn't even the first time this year that Brendel has given me incorrect email address information for board members. In February of this year, I had asked for the email addresses of the ICEF board at the time. There were errors with the information he released then too.
     What's the deal? Can't ICEF provide true and correct information, or is it purposely providing incorrect contact information for its board?

   After pointing out the error (and complaining to the LAUSD Charter School Division), ICEF responded with the correct email addresses.
   It's very interesting that since last school year, the entire ICEF Board of Directors has changed. Is it normal for an entire school's boards to change in a one year? I guess we will learn more as ICEF releases more information in response to public records requests.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Repeal the Charter School Act

For the past three years, I have been shedding light on the problem of charter school co-locations. I believe co-locations are wrong. They create separate and unequal conditions on campuses and have local schools fighting for their lives as resources are stolen from them in the name of co-location.
    One group, Voices Against Privatising Public Education (facebook page), is working on a ballot proposition that would not only end co-locations but would eliminate charter schools completely from the California educational landscape.
    The group has started an online petition which has already garnered over 1000 signatures and has been endorsed by various labor and democratic groups. VAPPE also has a blog where you can read the language of the proposed initiative.
    Wow, wouldn't that be great if this was on the ballot for November 2016 and ends charters schools in California by July 2017. It would mean these co-location adventures would finally be over.
    If you are reading this and haven't signed the online petition please do so now. It only takes a moment, and it can help make our dream of fair public education for all a reality.

UTLA protests charter expansion plans

Yesterday, UTLA held a large protest in front of the Broad Museum on its opening day to protest Eli Broad's plan to expand charters to take half the students in LAUSD.
    I went to check out and support the rally because any plan for charter school expansion is going to involved charter co-locations.
UTLA protest charter school expansion at the opening of the Broad Museum
UTLA protest charter school expansion
    The rally was well attended. There were more then 500 people, and not just teachers. Parents, students, grandparents, community activists and many others were there to show their support for UTLA and express their opposition to the expansion of charters and privatization of public education.  About 30 minutes into the rally, the picketing line got so long that a large group of people had to move across the street. It was heartening to see our American liberties in action.
    Unfortunately, co-locations were not even mentioned by UTLA as one of the problems charters cause. The focus of the rally was get charters to play by the rules, open themselves up to scrutiny and to service all students.  This is all well and good, but this is only chipping away at the edges of what the real problem is which is the charters themselves that seek to create a privatized, unaccountable education system that doesn't have to play by the rules. What UTLA  is asking is for charter to no act like charters. It's just not going to work. UTLA's solution is just a band-aid on a cancerous sore.

    There was a group of people at the rally who were saying that UTLA wasn't going far enough and the group was presenting a different solution: repeal charter schools completely. The group is laying the ground work for a ballot proposition for 2016. I wish this group luck.

   In the end, the rally seemed more like a chance for UTLA to let its members blow off steam and not a rally with any clear agenda or plan to steam the growing charter tide.

Ravitch blog triple bump for ICEF "cease and desist letter"

    I guess it really shouldn't be news anymore but it always impresses me when the views to this blog spike. Last week Adventures in Co-location experienced another Ravitch blog bump.  Last month, this blog got two bumps (here and here) from the Ravitch blog.

    Last week's bump was thanks to a comment on a story about a "militaristic" charter in Nashville.  The comment focuses on the ICEF cease and desist letter that I received.

     I'm glad this co-location struggle is receiving more attention.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Stoner community address ICEF SSC about co-location concerns

     On Thursday September 10, I went to the ICEF Vista School Site Counsel meeting to represent the concerns and frustration of the Stoner Elementary School community regarding the ICEF Vista co-location at the Stoner ES campus.
     When I arrived at the school, an ICEF parent who I didn't know greeted me by name, "Hola, A--- B---." She turned to some parents next to her and said "Let's leave before he locks us in."

     During the meeting, I talked about the parking/safety issues, the separate and unequal conditions created by the co-location, about the racial slurs being used by the ICEF Vista community against the Stoner community and the increasing tension on campus.
Stoner community express concerns to
ICEF Vista SSC about the co-location at Stoner ES
      The ICEF administration seemed to be trying their best to make sure the meeting complied with the California open meetings laws. It was a valiant effort.
      The ICEF community seemed annoyed that I was bringing the Stoner community complaints to them, but sat and listened politely none the less.
      The meeting really wasn't that exciting, but I couldn't have planned what happened right after.    
    After the meeting, I was parched from so much talking. I headed to a drinking fountain that is just outside the meeting room door. I was a few steps away from the water fountain when I heard a voice behind me. Someone from ICEF said "Mr. B---, you can't go that way because of the children." I said I was just getting some water and began to drink. She stood by me until I finished my drink and began to walk me out.
    We had only taken a few steps when I heard a different voice behind me, "Oh my gosh! Mr. B---, what are you doing here?" I turned around and was hugged by a soccer mate of my daughter. She began talking about how much fun she had at the summer soccer league and how she enjoyed coming over our house after soccer practice and games. A group of about a dozen children began to gather around her, drawn in by her excitement and enthusiasm, as she talked about how she enjoyed visiting. She asked how the family was doing and when she could come visit again.
    The ICEF adult who was trying to walk me out looked confused at what was happening. I'm sure it must have been confusing that a person who was just complaining about ICEF would have friends in the ICEF community and even allow our children to play together. Civility, how shocking!! 
    I ask how she and her family were doing and told her that it was good seeing her; we would love to have her visit again, she would just need to ask her mom to set up a play date. 
    I said I had to go. She gave me another hug and turned around to keep telling the other children how much fun she had had over the summer. I walked to my car smiling thinking about what a great summer we just had.

Argounaut News: Zimmer speak about Westside issues including Stoner co-location problems

The Argonaut interviewed LAUSD Board President Steve Zimmer about Westside public school issues. Zimmer is asked about problems of the co-location of ICEF Vista on the Stoner Avenue Elementary School campus.

You can read the article here:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Shots fired near ICEF on Stoner ES

Shooting on Lindblade near ICEF entrance
The scene on Lindblade this morning.

    There has been a recent uptick in gang activity around the ICEF Vista Elementary Academy Charter School side of the Stoner Elementary School campus.

     This morning, a little after 6 AM, neighbors were jarred awake by an estimated dozen high powered shots fired in to a house on Lindblade Street behind the school.

    The shots were fired by two people dressed in all black who calmly walked away to a waiting car that cruised off slowly.

Gang tagging near ICEF Vista Entrance
Gang tagging near ICEF Vista Entrance
  Two fire department vehicles and six LAPD cars came to the scene. Police were searching the street with their flashlights looking for shell casings. One man was taken to the hospital with multiple gun shot wounds.

    Neighbors were shaken by the callousness of the shooting and described a recent increase in gang activity in the neighborhood since the time the charter moved in.

      One neighbor reported a brazen tagging incident that occurred a few weeks back in the middle of the day on a wall catty corner to the ICEF Vista entrance. The neighbor said around 2 PM he saw a group of about 6 young adults on bikes standing guard and holding and extra bike while one person tagged.  The neighbor shared the picture to the left of the tagging.
   During the last co-location there was also an increase in gang activity that led up to an ugly profanity filled tagging incident against the co-located charter school.
   I hope things clam down soon. We all want a safe environment to live and for our children to grow up and go to school.

Gang tag graffiti across the street from  ICEF Vista entrance one week before the shooting
Gang tag graffiti across the street from
ICEF Vista entrance one week before the shooting

ICEF agrees to release records

It looks like ICEF has relented on their invoice of $860 to view public records.

I received a notice from ICEF's counsel that they will be releasing the records for public viewing and will be doing so at no cost. They should be available next week. But there might be a problem with what ICEF wants to redact....

Saturday, September 5, 2015

WA Rules Charter school unconstitutional

The WA state Supreme Court has ruled that charter schools are unconstitutional because they are publicly funded by privately operated.

You can read more here:

Friday, September 4, 2015

ICEF issues "cease and desist" letter

***Hello ICEF lawyers and administration.  Thank you for reading this blog. Your views are increasing the revenue to this blog.***
....and now, back to our regularly scheduled Adventures.
Hmm, in an almost predictable twist in this co-loction adventure, yesterday at 6:29 PM, ICEF's legal counsel has issue a "cease and desist" letter asking that I stop actions that are interfering "with ICEF's education of it's students."  
      What am doing that interferes with ICEF educating its students?  ICEF presents a three pronged complaint as to their reason .
1. "Padlocking gate" - ICEF counsel accuses me of locking their staff in campus on Saturday, August 8, 2015. They even claim there was a witness. Unfortunately for ICEF, I did not lock the gate and I have a witness who can verify that I did not lock the gate.  --Nice try, but no cigar.

2. "Harassing students, teachers, staff and others" -- ICEF is claiming documenting the co-location on this blog by taking photo and videos of people out in public that I am intimidating, harassing and bullying these people. Unfortunately for ICEF, new media journalism is not intimidation, harassment or bullying, it's just reporting the news. --No soup for you!

3. "Blog entries" -- ICEF had 2 specific complaints regarding 2 blog post. These 2 post have since been updated (here, and here) to remove privileged and potential defamatory information.  -- Thanks for the heads up! I will be a little more cautious in what I write in the future, but I am not going to stop the blog.

  I have responded to ICEF and asked them to clarify their request since 1 and 2 don't apply and 3 has been corrected.

I wonder what the next gambit will be.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

ICEF Amateur Hour continues...ICEF tries to charge $800 to view public records

Honestly, I didn't think we'd have another ICEF Amateur Hour episode so soon, but here we are again.
ICEF Charter School bogus invoice to view public records
ICEF Charter School bogus invoice to view public records
    ICEF continues to play dumb about their responsibility under the California Public Records Act (PRA). On Thursday, ICEF responded to a PRA request with a invoice of $867.87 to just view these records. The fees included copying, redacting, reviewing the redactions, and even lunch breaks. ICEF's lawyer was cc'd on the invoice.
I had a great belly laugh when I saw the email. What fresh BS is this?

    Per the PRA, public records can be viewed upon request on location at no cost to the requester. Any work required to make these documents available must be taken on by the keeper of the records. This "invoice" is just another lame attempting to not comply with the law.
    After complaining about the legality of the invoice to ICEF CCO/CFO Greg Brendel , I was directed to speak with ICEF's legal counsel. I connected with the lawyer on Friday afternoon and we spoke for 23 minutes. It was exhilarating!
    ICEF's counsel offered to reduce the cost of access to the documents to $250. Absolutely not, I told him, I would not pay anything to see public records. This invoice was bogus and was even attempting to double charge for copying of records for redaction for public viewing.
    I have made many public records request since I started this blog, (the most notable and troublesome request involved getting copies of documents related to the CWC stripping and hosing a student on campus)  and this was the first time anyone tried to charge. The lawyer said he would get back to me next week.

    So, fellow Adventurers, tune in next week for the next episode where more amateur antics are sure to ensue.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

FLASHBACK - ICEF Amateur Hour preview: "Brown Act" violation

I should have known that I was in for a doozy of a co-location adventure when I first met ICEF CFO/CCO Greg Brendel in person.
   On February 18, 2015 a little before 5 PM, I was in the reception area of ICEF corporate headquarters waiting for the ICEF monthly board meeting to start. I wanted to use the public comment section of the meeting to alert the board to the Stoner and local communities' opposition to the co-location, and to ask them to please not co-locate at Stoner.
   As I was waiting, Mr. Brendel came out to greet me. He told me that, unfortunately, I would not be able to attend the meeting because I had not contacted the ICEF executive team with my concerns before the meeting.
   I was shocked!

   ...not attend the meeting?  Oh what a fool I was...Poor, poor me. ICEF has already won.
   ...none of those thoughts passed through my mind. I though "Is this guy serious?"  He must either be lying or very, very confused.

    ICEF board meetings pertain to the use of public funds and as such are subject to the Brown Act. The board meetings must be conducted as open public meetings.
   You don't need to announce that you will attend a public meeting.  Heck, anyone who just happened to walk by on the street and wanted to sit in the meeting for kicks would have every right to be in the meeting.
     So, trying to prevent me from attending a public meeting for any reason is a violation of the Brown Act.
     As for not contacting the executive team, well, a week before the meeting, I emailed all ICEF administration, including Mr Brendel, a complaint about the proposed co-location but never received a response.

     Regardless of his lame bluff, I told him I was attending the meeting and I would be speaking because it was an open public meeting subject to the Brown Act. I was allowed in the meeting and I spoke.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Argonaut: "Strife returns to Stoner Elementary"

The Argonaut ran a story about the protest against the ICEF Vista co-location at Stoner Elementary.

  I was happy this reporter came to cover the protest, but I was even more happy that he stayed after and saw first hand an incident were an ICEF Vista security guard intimidated a protester into deleting photos of the protest claiming that the photos might be "child pornography."   

You can read the story at:

"...pinche metiche Oaxaca!" - ICEF parent hurls ethnic slur at Stoner Mom helping elderly neighbor

Back in 2012, Oxnard School District banned the used of the epithet "Oaxaquita," but three years later, it looks like that epithet is still used freely by some parents of an LAUSD charter school, ICEF Vista.

ICEF Vista parent hurls ethnic slur "Oaxaca" at local resident
ICEF Vista parent hurls ethnic slur "Oaxaca" at local resident
    Yesterday morning, an elderly resident of Lindblade Place was upset and paniced that an ICEF Vista parent had parked their car blocking the  resident's driveway.  The resident needed to leave for an important doctor's appointment, but was blocked in. The resident saw her neighbor, who is a Stoner Elementary School mom, walking down the street and asked her for help.
   As they were talking, the ICEF parent returned holding a few ICEF uniforms in her arms. The Stoner mom reminded the ICEF parent to not park in front of the driveway. The ICEF parent responded "Whatever, pinche metiche Oaxaca!" before slamming her door and driving aggressively out of the cul de sac.
   This is not the first time a member of the ICEF Vista community has used this slur. At Monday's protest ICEF parents were also using this insult by mumbling under their breath or speaking out of the corner of their mouth. Yesterday was the first time this slur was aimed directly at someone.
"Oaxaca" as an ethnic slur
     Oaxaca is a Southern state in Mexico. A large portion of the population of the state are Native American, consisting of many differing tribes with a wide variety of dialects. Oaxacans are desendents of the Mixtec and Zapotec peoples.
     Using "Oaxaca" as an insult is essentially calling someone an "indio," a short, dark skin, stupid, uneducated, savage "Indian."   Both the Urban Dictionary and Yahoo! Answers have entries that explain how using "Oaxaca" as an insult is both a racial and ethnic slur.
    It's sad an disturbing that a member of the ICEF Vista community would use such a hateful slur against someone who was trying to help an elderly neighbor get to a doctor's appointment.
   We are asking ICEF Vista to speak to its community about not using hate language when interacting with the local neighborhood or Stoner ES community. Although, I fear that once this is brought up with the ICEF community, they might use this slur more once they hear how hurtful it is to the local community.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

LA School Report - ICEF Charter greeted with protest at co-location

ICEF Vista Charter greeted by protesters on first day of co-location at StonerLA School Report ran a story on the Stoner Elementary School protest against the co-location of ICEF Vista Charter at Stoner.

   ICEF declined to comment on the story. However, a California Charter School Association representative did comment and pushed the idea of a co-location as a "collaboration."
    Unfortunately, Stoner parents have already lived through a co-location and know first hand that a co-location only takes and gives nothing to the home school.  Stoner parent have been firm on their stance that they will not "collaborate" in this "theft" of resources from their children.

    You can read the entire story here:

Monday, August 17, 2015

Ravitch blog double bump

Ravitch doulbe bump
I was pretty happy when this blog got a Ravitch bump last week.
     I couldn't have imaged that we'd get a second bump straight from Ms. Ravitch herself, nor that the bump would have been so huge. It makes the first bump look minuscule by comparison.
   This second bump helped spread the word about today's protest farther and wider than I could have hoped.
    The support and interest is humbling.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Stoner community to protest ICEF co-location on first day of school

ICEF Vista - no co-location at Stoner
No ICEF Vista co-location at Stoner Elementary
    The Stoner Elementary School community and local neighborhood community are mad about the co-location of ICEF Vista Charter school on the Stoner ES campus.

   The communities will be holding a protest on the first day of school to let the ICEF community know that we are opposed to the co-location. We will be encouraging the ICEF parents to consider other education options including their local public community school or a non-co-located charter.

WHAT: Stoner Elementary Community is holding a:

WHEN: Monday, August 17, 2015 at 7:30 – 8:30 AM

WHERE: on the corner of Stoner Avenue and Lindblade Street, 90230.

Monday, August 10, 2015

ICEF blowing smoke and starting fires

On Saturday, I noticed some surprising activity on the ICEF co-location section of campus that turned out to be disturbing activity.
   I was driving my family home when I noticed a gentleman by himself unlocking the morning drop off gate on Stoner Avenue, the one that had been put in place during the previous co-location.
     This gate was not supposed to be used as a regular entrance to campus but only for morning drop off. The co-located charter school's entrance is on Lindblade St. I was surprised by this and after dropping off my family, I walked by to check it out.
     As I approached, I saw a lady exit and enter and then the gentleman exit and re-entering.  I snapped picture. He didn't like it and said I needed to stop or he would call the police. I laughed and said he was on a public sidewalk. I asked if Ms. Buczek was on campus.  He said he didn't know who that was. I said she was the principal. He said he didn't work for the school and was just helping "her" as he pointed in the direction of the lady who reentered before him.
    The lady walked back and let me know Buczek was not on campus but said she would text her a message.
    This was disturbing. This man who was not affiliated with ICEF was not only on campus without ICEF administration but was in possession of the campus keys and could let himself on campus.
   What is going on on the ICEF side of campus?

    Sometime a little later that afternoon, my wife was driving by on the way to an errand. The gate was open.  She stopped the car to take a picture when the same gentleman from before walked up to the passenger side of the car where my children where and began blowing smoke in the car while telling my wife she could not take pictures and had to leave. She stopped taking pictures, switched to video and captured a few seconds before moving on to get away from the smoke.
    When she returned from her errand and recounted the incident, I couldn't help but remember the cigarette incident from the previous co-location.  That incident happened at the end of the school year, but tension are already running on hot and smoke is being blown.
     What's the old saying? Where there's smoke, there's fire...

The Ravitch blog bump

I noticed a significantly larger number of hits to the blog this past week. I thought with school starting soon people might be checking in, but these numbers didn't make sense. They were just too big.
    I checked the statistics and saw that that people where coming to here from:

    Wow, Adventures in Charter School Co-location got a Ravitch Blog bump! I was excited! What did she write?

    I searched the blog and was a little disappointed at first to find that it wasn't Diane who wrote about us, but that it was a comment in story that was creating all the traffic. But then again, it was pretty awesome to think that a comment on Diane's blog could create such interest.
    It's interesting to think of all the people I've never met who have been entertained and, hopefully, educated by these co-location adventures and it's humbling to think that some people have found this blog important enough to share with others.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Is ICEF violating co-location agreement?

Right now, ICEF Vista has volunteer parents cleaning up the Stoner Avenue Elementary School campus.While this might sound like a good thing, ICEF might be acting in violation of the co-location agreement with LAUSD and ICEF Vista Director Kristen Buczek should already knows this.
ICEF vista violates co-location agreement by having volunteer parent perform facilities duties
ICEF Vista Director Buczek having parents
perform facilities duties in violation of co-location contract
   At the June 5, Campus Co-location Committee meeting, Buczek specifically asked if she could have volunteer ICEF parents clean (i.e. perform facilities work) the campus.
   Ms. Buzcek was told that no she could not have parents volunteers perform facilities work since: 1) the co-location agreement clearly states that LAUSD is in charge of facilites on the entire campus including the charter's part of campus and 2) giving facilities work to volunteer parents would take away work from unionized LAUSD employees.
    However, today Ms Buzcek appeared to ignore the terms of the co-location agreement and the recommendation of the CCC and chose to use ICEF Vista parents to perform the work she was told they could not do.
ICEF Vista violated co-location agreement at Stoner Avenue Elementary
ICEF parent's truck parked on campus
 while parent performs facilities work
    Through the fence, I addressed Buzcek and asked what was going on. She said they were volunteer parents and "they are cleaning up..." before her words trailed off.
   I reminded her that she had already been told at the campus co-location committee meeting that parents could not perform facilities duties.  She quickly changed her tune and said that they were leaving and denied saying that they were cleaning.
   Fortunately, in the video I took of the interaction you can clearly hear her say "they are cleaning" and see her point to leaves on the ground. Plus, the parents are holding a broom, rake and trash can. One parent was later seen hauling trash bags full of pine needles.

   Wow, it appears that ICEF may be violating the terms of the co-location agreement.

Buckle your seatbelts and make sure your devices are full charged, this is going to be an awesome adventure in co-location!***

***post updated 9/4/2015 to remove potential defamatory language per cease and desist letter from ICEF's attorney.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Adventure #2 begins: ICEF invites the community to leave their community

ICEF Vista an ominous presence in the community
ICEF Vista - ominous presence in the community
    It's been nice having a break from the blog over the summer, but signs of the pending co-location have become unavoidable: new storage trailers have been placed on campus, dozen of new lunch benches have been moved to the ICEF Vista part of campus, LAUSD has been preparing the co-location rooms, and there is even an ICEF wifi network coming from the campus.
   So, it looks like the adventure is ready to begin anew and ICEF has already made their first ham-fisted misstep.
     In a move all to reminiscent of follies of the CWC Mar Vista colocation, yesterday, ICEF Vista sent representatives to the neighborhood around Stoner Elementary to hand out fliers and invite members of the community to a potluck to meet the ICEF community.
   Needless to say, a few of the local community members responded to the invitation by expressing their concern and dismay at ICEF's choice to colocate at Stoner.
   In one exchange with a neighbor, an ICEF community member expressed the absurd notion that they would be fine with their child losing resources so that another school could co-locate.This person is either a liar or a fool, and the fact that they were out
shilling for ICEF does not bode well for this coming school year.
   In fact, this whole event seems rather disingenuous.  There is no mention of ICEF or of the co-location at Stoner. It makes it seem as if there is a seperate community group called "Our community united" that is not affiliated with ICEF, that want the community to meet the community.   If I didn't know this came ICEF, I would have no clue what this is and would probably think it was a scam.
    Considering that they are claiming to be "our community," why are they holding the event far outside of our neighborhood and community? If the point of the event is to smooth over concern about the co-location by putting a human face on their community, then why isn't ICEF having this event in neighborhood such as at Stoner, where they will be co-located, or how about at the ICEF Vista campus at St. Gerard, which is also in the neighborhood?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

ICEF Vista amateur hour: Campus Co-location Committee follies

This year, LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortinez is trying a new way to handle the problems created by charter co-locations. He is requiring schools with co-locations to create a CAMPUS CO-LOCATION Committee (CCC) that would contain the plant manager, both schools principals, lead teachers and parent representatives from both the district and charter school. The committee's purpose is to: (1) create the Shared Use Agreement between district and charter school, and (2) incorporate the charter into the District safe school plan.
    On January 23, 2015, Superintendent Ramon Cortinez sent out a letter (see images) to all charter principals whose school had been given a preliminary co-location offer. In the letter, Cortinez lays out the timeline and steps that will be required.
   The last two items in the timeline are that in May the schools will form a CCC and the group will meet before the Memorial Day weekend.  LAUSD ESC West set up an initial meeting on May 21 for schools with co-locations on the Westside, including Stoner and ICEF. Stoner representatives showed up, but ICEF did not.
   In order to get the ball rolling, Stoner scheduled a meeting directly with ICEF for Friday, June 5. ICEF showed up with a member of the board, the ICEF Vista director and two teachers. They were unaware of the CCC requirements, claiming they never received the letter and objected to the presence of a Stoner parent at the meeting.  ICEF also claimed that they had not received an invitation to the May 21 meeting to which the LAUSD Prop 39 representative responded with a sign and and a "No."
      So, the meeting technically wasn't the first CCC meeting since the CCC contains the plant manager, ICEF principal and ICEF Charter  parents.  However, the ICEF representatives did try to begin working on Use Agreement.

   A few items were discussed, and ICEF's lack of basic knowledge regarding the co-location were troubling to say the least.
   ICEF Director Buczek began negotiations by suggesting having similar start times.  I objected citing traffic and safety issues, and also noted that because of the tension between the  two schools, we would want time between the schools'  start times. (Besides, ICEF had told their community that there would be a definite divide between the school and similar start times would not allow for their desired divide.)
  The issue of  campus clean up came up and ICEF director suggested that a parent or staff could clean up their side of campus. I objected, and pointed out that the final agreement specifically states that LAUSD will handle all campus maintenance for the charter.
 This made me question, had the ICEF staff even read the agreement?

  One thought keep coming to me during the meeting, "What is this, amateur hour?" ICEF Vista staff were unprepared and lacked basic understanding about what they were getting in to. It was very disheartening to witness.  If this is what we are seeing before the co-location, what can we expect for next year?
   Last time we saw what a "Sak Fifth Avenue" charter school who didn't know the rules could do: escaped children; student stripped and hose on campus. What will ICEF, a "99 cents" charter do this year?