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: http://argonautnews.com/interview-schoolyard-scuffles/

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: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/state-supreme-court-charter-schools-are-unconstitutional/

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.