"[C]reating a 'separate and unequal' education system through the co-locations of charter schools in public school buildings." — NYC Parents' Lawsuit
A day after the Echo Parque community learned that Gabriella Charter Corporation had ended their week long occupation of Logan Street Elementary School's auditorium, evidence that Gabriella had merely taken over another room and moved their furniture into that room once they had emptied it of its existing contents came to light.
Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council's (GEPENC) CIO Lisa Baca-Sigala took photographs and notified the Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) Office of the General Counsel that Gabriella Charter Corporation had not only seized Logan Street School's Room 32, but had moved the contents of that room into Room 31 without permission or even the courtesy of notifying Logan's principal, Mr. Luis Ochoa. Moreover, the impromptu move damaged the rooms in question and some of the items that were moved.
GEPENC volunteers had spent a great deal of time and resources preparing the Logan Street School rooms for quickly approaching school year. This quote from their letter to LAUSD speaks volumes:
Both of these classrooms were part of the six classrooms painted and deep cleaned by the Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council with the community and parents volunteers last year for the SPECIFIC USE BY LOGAN STUDENTS not the Gabriella charter school office administration or students. Additionally, you may recall that LAUSD also invested funds to replace the new floors in both of these classrooms for the use by the Logan DISTRICT SCHOOL STUDENTS.
The volunteers requested LAUSD make Gabriella Charter Corporation pay for the damages caused by their activities under Article 14.2(C) of the Colocation Agreement. Additionally, some local parents are asking for Gabriella Charter Corporation's colocation agreement be revoked.
In an attempt to provide Gabriella Charter Corporation with an opportunity to explain themselves, I've left several voicemails on their general office phone (213) 413-5741, and emailed them. They've made no effort to return my calls or emails. When I personally visited the Logan campus on Wednesday, August 24, 2011, classroom 32 was still occupied. Given Gabriella Charter Corporation's past behavior and flaunting of the colocation agreement (including last year's Room 51 incident), there's a very good chance they have no intentions of relinquishing their latest annexation.
More frightening still, was evidence that confirmed rumors we had heard from several neighborhood parents about wealthy white Wendy Kopp's Teach for America (TFA) missionary corps establishing a beachhead in our neighborhood. When I circled around the campus from the outside to take a photograph of Gabriela Charter Corporation's main building, a white board stood to the side boldly proclaiming "Welcome Teach for America Office." Perhaps we know now why Gabriella needs more office space. I know several very principled people, including some prominent activist teachers, who are TFA alumni. That said, I know far more who are entirely unprincipled, and more to the point, I have observed TFA's overall function in leveraging neoliberalism and providing a scab force for districts trying wholesale privatization. Rather than get into my own lengthy critique of TFA, I offer a handful of other peoples' essays which address some of my concerns:
- Why TFA is Dangerous for Our District (or any other)
- Teach for America
- Teach for America: The Money Just Keeps Rolling In
- Why I Hate Teach for America
Gabriella Charter Corporation must do the right thing and return to the space allocated to them under their charter colocation agreement. Please contact Gabriella Executive Director Liza Bercovici at (213) 487-0839 firstname.lastname@example.org and the LAUSD Board President Garcia at (213) 241-6180 email@example.com and let them know that the occupation of our public school's rooms must end.
For a background on this story please see: Gabriella Charter Corporation further encroaches Logan Street Public Elementary School. There is a gallery of photos related to these articles.