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LAUSD Trustees Pick Camino Nuevo to Run Echo Park's New Middle School

On a vote of 4-3, the board members decided to go against schools superintendent Ramon Cortines, who had recommended an Echo Park team of parents, teachers and administrators run the site.

The Los Angeles Unified School District board of trustees voted Tuesday to select an established charter operator to run the new middle school in Echo Park.

The board selected Camino Nuevo Charter Academy on a 4-3 vote against the recommendation of schools superintendent Ramon Cortines.

One of those three votes came from school board president Monica Garcia, whose chief of staff Luis Sanchez faces Echo Park resident Bennett Kayser in a runoff for the LAUSD District 5 seat in May.

Superintendent Cortines had given a thumbs up to a team of Echo Park parents, teachers and educators last week, "with reservations."

Cortines also said at the board meeting Tuesday that the District 4/Community Partners plan clearly addressed  "the needs of the community."

Cortines also called Camino Nuevo "an outstanding partner," saying he was "blown away" with what he had observed there.

David Tokofsky, former LAUSD District 5 trustee who has also worked with Green Dot Public Schools, was critical of the board's vote.

"I'm someone who has worked with charters, but I've also been an elected trustee of the institution," he said.

"As a trustee, you should be finding ways to strengthen the success of the district, rather than spinnng things off," he said. 

Board members did, however,vote to allow the community plan to be implemented at another site, if one could be found. 

Superintendent Cortines said he thought "co-locating" such a school at an existing site would be difficult.

That idea did not sit well with Cheryl Ortega, director of bilingual education at United Teachers of Los Angeles, who worked closely with the community team.

"The group that put this plan together is the group that will decide what to do next," she said.

"It's like treating schools like Starbuck's," said Tokofsky.  "A neighborhood initiative can't be transferred to another neighborhood."

Hua Truong, director of operations at Camino Nuevo said, "Obviously there will be disappointment on the other side."

"What we really want to do now is to reach out, to collaborate and to talk to the community to make this a school that meets the needs of the community," he added.

Jose Sigala, chair of the Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council, said his group looks forward to working with Camino Nuevo on a "parent/community oriented school."

maz usc March 16, 2011 at 03:59 AM
as president of a community association located around one of camino nuevo's school i can say they are some of the worst neighbors and organizations to work with. their school has caused traffic, trash, noise and have allowed street vendor so what ever they wish. not one of my calls of letters were returned. good luck to Jose Sigala.
EP Citizen March 16, 2011 at 04:00 AM
What a turn of events. *who were the 4 board members who supported Camino Nuevo? and how would Kayser have voted? *Tokofsky is an interesting source-- at the end of his board career he was on Green Dot's advisory board which has been "spinning students off" from south LA's schools for a decade now. Intriguing that he's against that practice when it's a different charter school operator "spinning off" a school closer to home *with their immersive bilingual model, Camino Nuevo will directly serve Spanish-speaking families west and south of the new campus. But that won't sit well with English-speaking parents in Echo Park who have been starving for another middle school besides mediocre King MS. *Camino Nuevo has more seats so they can expand their business-slash-educational mission. Good for them... Wondering, though, what would've been the community reaction to clearing out blocks of families via eminent domain if people knew then that the school would be handed off to a charter school corporation.
Staci Eddy March 16, 2011 at 04:13 AM
This is a great injustice. And I'm going to keep fighting
Gab March 16, 2011 at 04:34 AM
I am so overwhelmingly disappointed I just don't know how to react. I sincerely hope the EPCP plan still has life because it is such an amazing plan and maybe we can find another site nearby that we could try to implement the EPCP plan.
Robert D. Skeels March 16, 2011 at 06:11 AM
Today's vote was a repudiation of the community in favor of the corporate. Hua Truong, a businessman, not an educator, could care less about our community. If he and his unelected board of CNCA directors comprised of wealthy bankers really cared, then they would have respected the wishes of our community and withdrawn their bid. I'm sure his bonus will reflect their increased market share at our neighborhood's expense. As it is, CRES #14 will be another privatized charter school, counseling out the most needy and completely obtuse to the Echo Park Community.
Micki Curtis March 16, 2011 at 01:26 PM
The board members who voted for CN were: Monica Garcia Yolie Flores (she will be leaving for the Gates foundation soon- please vote for Bennett Kayser in the run-off- and he would have voted for the communty plan) Richard Vladovic Nury Martinez
Joan Kramer March 16, 2011 at 02:27 PM
Please vote for Bennett Kayser! We need to get rid of the corporatization of Los Angeles schools that is led by Monica Garcia and Yolie Flores. These people are a menace to public education and serve Gates, Eli Broad, and the aims of the rich.
dodgerblue March 16, 2011 at 07:16 PM
the opportunist "moms on the hill" should be ashamed trying to speak for the community on their behalf. These are people who drive their kids out to private schools. Are you kidding me, these people obviously have resources, backing, and the know how to service their kids. I did an informal survey on a block in Echo Park and the only one minority sent their kids to Elysian Hts. while everyone else was driven to Westwood, even a Beverly Hills school. Were they merely trying to cut their commute. Due to gentrification many historic residents with no resources have lost their voice. I speak for many,many long term residents who are not on the same page.
Robert D. Skeels March 16, 2011 at 07:34 PM
The only opportunists in this discussion are the billionaires providing CNCA with extra funding, including Eli Broad, The Annenberg Foundation, et al. Or are we to believe that these wealthy white plutocrats are now representing multicultural and working class interests. How self colonized @dodgerblue, your oppressors have convinced you that privatization is the solution to poverty. For shame! It's absolutely astonishing that LAUSD handed CRES #14 in Echo Park over to the private CNCA corporation. Our community voted by an over two to one margin in favor of the public school plan. The Superintendent recommended the community plan over the corporate charter. Residents were genuinely excited that they would have direct decision making in the school and its interactions with the community. Instead, the Mayor's pro-corporate candidates, some of whom had their campaigns financed by the vile reactionary Phillip Anschutz, decided to hand the new multi-million dollar facility over to the outside corporate charter interest. CNCA's board is unelected and doesn't feature a single educator.
Windy O'Malley March 17, 2011 at 12:46 AM
I invite you to meet with me, the parents who started Echo Park Mom's don't live on a hill they live next door to the new school site. I don not drive my children to a private school they will attend public and I worked with all my neighbors and everyone who effected by the destruction of our neighbors homes and the development of this school. We are the people without a voice and no funds or support. You are a 100% wrong. Please meet with me to discuss. Unless you are a coward who only sits on the computer and spouts crazy! .Windy O'Malley Co-founder of Echo park Mom's and Dad's for education.
Windy O'Malley March 17, 2011 at 01:20 AM
Something very very dangerous is happening within the Corporate Support and manipulation of our schools. We should watch closely.
Joan Kramer March 17, 2011 at 01:40 AM
Thanks Windy. I have lived in Echo Park for over 30 years. I know we need a middle school, or K-8 that is run by teachers and parents and not corporations. Thank you for all that you are doing. My granddaughter attends Elysian Heights. I'd be happy to see her at the new school - but not at a Camino Nuevo Charter. And she is bilingual and I want her to stay bilingual! Many experts have weighed in on the corporate take-over of our schools -- Stephen Krashen, Diane Ravitch, Susan Ohanian among them. They are on top of what is happening -- and it isn't for the benefit of our kids.
Janet Davis March 17, 2011 at 02:41 AM
As one of the plan writers, I knew from the beginning that Monica Garcia and her fellow Villaraigosa- supported board members planned to give the site to Camino Nuevo. I had hoped however, that if we wrote a plan that fit the neighborhood in all it's wonderful diversity, it could be a unifying center for the community and together we could overcome with positive organizing and community building. I am sorry that dodgerblue doesn't see the sincerity of his neighbors. If we don't come together believe me, none of us will succeed. The Board of Education's actions and words could create racial divides. We cannot allow ourselves to be reduced to their level, however, we also must follow the example of Board Member La Motte and call out the racism and political agenda evidenced by several of the LAUSD Board Members on Tuesday.
Micki Curtis March 17, 2011 at 03:30 AM
I apologize for my mistake as I was awake the night before camping out for my chance to be heard. Tamar Galatzan voted for CN and not Monica Garcia. However Monica Garcia, along with the entire board, with the only exception of Margueritte Lamotte, voted at the very end of the meeting for the approval of all the amendments. We need to remember that Ms Garcia's assistant, Luis Sanchez is in the run off election and most likely the reason for casting this "safe" vote. Vote for Kayser!
Dwain Wilson March 17, 2011 at 10:55 PM
Janet, Can you comment on what the EPCP plan writers plan to do next? Is there consideration of trying to find a different site in which to implement the EPCP plan? It seems like there's an awful lot of momentum behind this. It'd be terrible to see it go to waste.
Robert D. Skeels March 18, 2011 at 06:44 AM
Are School Privatizers Employing Fabian Núñez and Mercury Public Affairs to Champion Charters? http://rdsathene.blogspot.com/2011/03/are-school-privatizers-employing-fabian.html Did Camino Nuevo Charter Academy's wealthy Ana Ponce and Hua Truong hire an outside lobbyist using taxpayer money to pressure LAUSD into handing CRES #14 over to CNCA?
Hoa Truong March 18, 2011 at 09:33 PM
Hi Maz USC, I am the COO at Camino Nuevo, and am sorry to hear that we have not been responsive to your concerns. I would like to better understand what the issues are so that we can start to address them. The last thing we want is to be disrespectful of our neighbors in the communities we are trying to serve. Please email me at htruong@caminonuevo.org so we can set up a time to chat. I look forward to hearing from you. Hoa Truong
animal April 13, 2011 at 01:38 AM
School was not needed in these area. They will bring children from different areas to fill there seats. We have Rosemont, Logan, Mitchelterena, Mayberry, Clifford Elementary school. These Morans (LAUSD Board in 2005) were told. Now look what they do make it into a charter school. They care less if they delay the response time of LAFD station 20 to a emergency. They don't live around the are, so theywon't be affected. Thanks LAUSD for caring so much for these community.
Robert D. Skeels May 15, 2011 at 03:33 AM
Tuesday's election will determine whether we have a school board member who listens to our community and parents or one beholden to the deep pocketed corporate charter school sector. If you live in LAUSD District 5, your vote matters. The Importance of Tuesday's Runoff for LAUSD District 5 Board Seat http://echopark.patch.com/blog_posts/the-importance-of-tuesdays-runoff-for-lausd-district-5-board-seat
Anónimo October 22, 2012 at 08:25 AM
Camino Nuevo is a fishy school. Parents beware. And for those parents who don't understand English and are oblivious to what their students receive for an education, Padres, les he advertido que El Camino Nuevo es un camino de descontrol. Cambien a sus estudiantes a otra escuela. Aunque hay programa de immersion español, no hay suficiente evidencia que sus estudiantes estén obteniendo la mejor educación en la lengua español.

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