Gabriella Charter Corporation Further Encroaches Logan Street Public Elementary School

Gabriella Charter School Corporation has illegally occupied the Auditorium the public school community at Echo Park's Logan Street Elementary School.

"Colocation is eviction... It doesn't mean sharing, it means displacement." — NY State Sen. Bill Perkins

Gabriella Charter School Corporation continues to blatantly disregard the rights of the public school community at Echo Park's Logan Street Elementary School. Not content with having exceeded their allotment of space by several rooms, last week the well heeled executives of the corporate charter decided to forcibly annex Logan's entire auditorium. Here's an excerpt from one of the witnesses:

[We] looked into the school auditorium to discover that the Gabriella Charter School had moved its entire front office into the Logan auditorium. That includes desks, sofas, file cabinets, end tables and other various office paraphernalia. It was not there for storage. It was set up for business.

Set up for business indeed. As one can see from the photograph taken by a witness, this isn't furniture placed temporarily as if being rearranged, these desks are set up for use with lamps plugged in, papers and such at the ready. Moreover, none of Logan's administrators had been notified that their school's auditorium was appropriated by the adversarial charter corporation.

This egregious act by the corporate charter currently leaves Logan Street ES with no assembly space for their students or parents, and is part of a pattern of encroachment and disregard for the public school community that Gabriella occupies. Gabriella Corporation already caused Logan ES to cease offering any pre-school program because the charter took the two pre-kindergarden rooms. While LAUSD's legal department did contact the corporate charter and told them they needed to move their "office" out of Logan's auditorium, such notifications haven't done much in the past, as Gabriella has systematically violated its space cap several times in the past.

Shockingly, when Los Angeles Unified School Board President Monica Garcia was contacted regarding Gabriella Corporation's latest violation, she claimed she:

"Had to stay neutral in a case like this."

Community members and social justice activists are curious as to why our LAUSD trustee, whose district encompasses both Gabriella Charter Corporation and the public school it occupies would need to remain neutral when the charter is clearly violating the civil rights of all the public school families at Logan Street Elementary School. Echo Parque community members are encouraged to contact President Garcia at (213) 241-6180 or monica.garcia@lausd.net and discuss this incident with her.

Gabriella Charter School Corporation originally was able to gain a foothold on our neighborhood public school's campus under the insidious colocation provisions of Prop 39. Prop 39's colocation provisions were created by the deep pocketed California Charter Schools Association and their plutocrat backers in order to help undermine public schools and saddle taxpayers with the expenses of privately run charter schools over which they have negligible say or oversight.

It shouldn't surprise anyone that Gabriella Corporation's governing board (Gabriella Axelrad Education Foundation) sports several dubious non-educators with some experience with displacing the public commons in favor of private interests. Anyone familiar with the tragic tale of urban farm destruction documented in the Academy Award nominated film The Garden, will recognize the names of those board members responsible.

While Los Angeles communities and social justice activists are just beginning to learn how to fight back against charter school colocations (read occupations), in other cities there are established movements actively doing so. In New York City, groups like the Grassroots Education Movement engage in this struggle, and there have even been lawsuits against charter encroachments. Some of these struggles are documented in the inspiring film The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman, a must see for public school supporters. In our local struggles, we need to place political pressure on Gabriella Charter School Corporation to stop encroaching on our public school, and to pressure LAUSD to enforce the civil rights of all the families enrolled at Logan Street Elementary School.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Robert D. Skeels August 23, 2011 at 11:25 PM
I am in now in possession of additional photos and information showing your charter corporation has annexed an additional room. I have also heard from some of the parents in my neighborhood that Gabriella Charter School Corporation is helping TFA establish a beachhead in our community. Look for a new article explaining these latest outrages.
Jose Sigala August 25, 2011 at 04:36 PM
Robert, Thank you for the update on the co-location at Logan Street. I appreciate you making light of this bizarre situation. JOSE SIGALA
Lisa Baca-Sigala August 25, 2011 at 06:52 PM
Hi Robert Thank you for your excellent article. I am adding TWO PHOTOS I personally took this week on Monday August 22, 2011. Gabriella moved out of the Logan Auditorium and SQUATTED in classrooms 32 & 31 (illegally moving LAUSD desks chairs computer equiptment WITHOUT Logan Principal Luis Ochoa's knowledge or permission.) Today HALF of the Logan Campus in now the Gabriella Charter School's and we have two more years to go on the four year collocation agreement. With Logan's expansion to a NEW K-8 dual language Music Arts Program starting September 2011 - there are no more classrooms to give away to Gabriella Charter! Thank you Lisa Baca, CIO GEPENC
Squire August 26, 2011 at 03:53 AM
I'm curious if this is a news piece or an op Ed? Could it be possible since school was out that they were using the space temporarily? It seems implausible despite the accusations that you level that they would intend to utilize an auditorium in this manner permanently. I know we are all emotional about school issues, but this seems like unsubstantiated mud slinging meant to raise more hackles against the evil charter system. I would prefer news.
Patrick Lee August 26, 2011 at 05:05 AM
Hi Squire: This is a personal blog by Robert D. Skeels. Our news coverage is in the left column of the page.
Robert D. Skeels August 26, 2011 at 06:04 AM
Squire, your steadfast devotion to corporations is duly noted. I suppose the blog provides a combination of photo journalism and informed opinion, so perhaps both news and op-ed? Lastly, if you're so averse to public education and social justice, then you should avoid my essays at all costs.
Squire August 26, 2011 at 06:40 PM
Mr. Skeels, In your rush to judgment that since I question your article I must be the corporate enemy, I suppose you'd be surprised to hear that I volunteer at my local public school where my kids will attend. I merely make the point that your piece reads with bias which I feel actually does your argument a disservice. Now that I understand that this is an opinion piece, I will approach your essays as such. As someone who is genuinely interested in the topic, it seems to me that both sides heavily manipulate the facts as a means to an end.
Robert D. Skeels August 26, 2011 at 06:44 PM
Fair enough.
Lisa Baca-Sigala August 26, 2011 at 07:13 PM
Hi Squire From the Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council, Jose Sigala, Cheryl Ortega (retired Logan teacher), James Lopez (current Logan Teacher) and I have worked closely with the Principal Luis Ochoa and the Parents of Logan for the last three years. There are short tempers when it comes to this colocation since the way it was first established was disrespectful to everyone. I will be happy to share all my documents and the colocation agreement with you if you would like to email me at bacasigala@earthlink.net. FOR THE RECORD - there has been NO SHARED SPACE AGREEMENT last year and one does not currently exsist this year. Gabriella has MAXED out their space to where they are suppose to be in the 4th year of their agreement and we still have two more years to go. Regardless if school is out - no other Echo Park business has the right to enter into a LAUSD publlc school with out legal permission. Gabriella now has HALF the Logan campus and I assue a master to key to all the classrooms - since they are moving furniture in and out of spaces when no one from the Logan Administration is present. I do think there are very good points made in the article written by Mr. Seeks. I invite you to come and volunteer at Logan - they will be doing a school garden project the later part of September and you can meet the parents and see for yourself the SEPERATE BUT NOT EQUAL situation that currently is being suffered there. Best Lisa Baca, CIO GEPENC
Robert D. Skeels August 27, 2011 at 12:21 AM
Follow up piece to the above article: Occupation of Logan Street School Rooms by a Corporate Charter Continues http://j.mp/pCbzmc
cindylu August 29, 2011 at 08:09 PM
I'm not a fan of charter schools, but was Gabriella offered the chance to comment prior to publication?
Anthea Raymond (Editor) August 29, 2011 at 08:20 PM
This is a blog by one of our contributors Robert Skeels. We would love to have someone from Camino Nuevo or another charter school operator join us as a blogger to express an opposing view.
Robert D. Skeels August 29, 2011 at 08:24 PM
@cindylu I made several attempts to get Gabriella's input on this story before I published it. I made phone calls, left voicemail messages, and emailed them on several occasions and didn't get a single response from them. In fact, before I started the follow up piece to this entry, I made the effort to contact them again.
Robert D. Skeels February 19, 2012 at 12:42 AM
You mean, of course, the corporate view.


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