Parents & Community Involvement at Mt. Washington Elementary School – By Invitation Only

mt. washington elemetary schoolIt’s common knowledge that parents move to Mt. Washington, Northeast of Los Angeles, for its school. The school has a reputation which celebrates diversity side-by-side with high test scores and is seen as a “jewel” of both the community and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Suffice it to say that everyone enjoys the stability and high real estate property values in the area, due in no small part to Mt. Washington Elementary. The community set the standard on how to build a joint use building, the first of its kind in Los Angeles, raising millions of private dollars to see it done.

Sadly, however, this jewel is now in trouble. Test scores, compared to similar schools, are on the decline. Parents are opting to enroll their kids elsewhere. And now, as the school year comes to a close, what should have been a cause for celebration has become a point of frustration and a glaring example of bureaucratic absurdity that reads like a scene from the movie Brazil.

In the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and unprecedented teacher layoffs, a one-time only allocation of $85,000 in unrestricted funds was made by LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines to all non-Title I public schools, including Mt. Washington Elementary. Combining these funds with the $75,000 raised by the parents and community totals $160,000. Educational opportunities for the children despite these tough economic times! This is the ideal – public education at its best.

But, the stakeholders, parents and neighbors of Mt. Washington, never learned of the $85,000 from their local school leader. When pressured about the funds, the principal explains there were “rumors” but nothing confirmed. From April to May, Superintendent Cortines attended principal meetings celebrating and declaring “several times at these meetings” the $85,000 allocation. Meanwhile, all other similarly situated schools met with their elected parent groups, which includes the principal, and they collectively decided how best to spend the money to advance children’s education. But not Mt. Washington.

Only after receipt of a “letter of inquiry” from over 40 parents, the money was found. Sweet relief! The principal explains at a June PTA meeting she didn’t get the April 6 memo allocating the funds. Mt. Washington was somehow left off the list. It’s LAUSD’s fault. Yet, the money is here now, and parents and principal can collectively decide how best to allocate the money, right?

Not so fast, says the principal’s supervisor, Maureen Diekmann. These funds were a “gift to the principal,” to be used at her discretion. There will be no public forum; there will be no discussion. Can LAUSD actually “gift” away public taxpayer dollars? Not exactly, LAUSD quickly refutes. In an e-mail to Ms. Diekmann, Superintendent Cortines corrects her stating that these funds are not “a gift” and the School Site Council (SSC), an elected group of parents, teachers and principal, must be involved. Thankfully, someone in LAUSD took a public policy class and remembers their basic civics lessons.

Next step – call for a SSC meeting to allocate the funds. The principal repeatedly promises to do so, in person and with e-mails to the SSC chair and others. The parents call, they e-mail, they reach out asking – when is the meeting going to happen? First, the principal needs to know the maintenance man’s schedule, so he can open the door. Parents wait, but don’t hear back. They ask again. She now needs to wait on another individual’s schedule, yet never inquires of the availability of the SSC. Five weeks later- still no response.

Fernando Orozco, with his two youngest, Jade and Julius.

Any seasoned LAUSD parent knows there is “time” and then there is “LAUSD time.” These things can’t be rushed; it’s bureaucracy at its finest. There are too many other items on a principal’s “to do” list. Scheduling meetings takes time. Well, not all meetings! Five weeks after the initial request to meet with the SSC and repeated unanswered calls and e-mails there is a meeting held by the principal, “by invitation only”- with select parents and community members, hand-picked by the principal.

The scheduling for this impromptu meeting was not directly made available to the SSC; nor was it announced to the parent body or the community. It was the principal’s own meeting, without a published agenda or records taken. This is a meeting for the “right” kind of parent, it is said. They speak of committees regarding budget, safety, and other important matters of public education. To be involved or invited, one must be the right kind of parent. To be the “right” kind of parent begs the question – who then are the “wrong” kind of parents? What are the criteria to be the “right” kind of parent in the public school system? What do you need to say (or not say) to be the “right” kind of parent? It seems Mt. Washington and the entire city of Los Angeles had unrealistic expectations that the city charter or any democratic process be followed in a public school setting.

The parents in this complex and diverse system are firm believers in LAUSD’s mission: “to create critical thinkers prepared to participate in a diverse and complex society.” And it can’t get any more complex than LAUSD.

To become part of the concerned parents and community members that are advocating for transparency and accountability at Mt. Washington Elementary, please send your e-mail address to mtwashingtonvoices@yahoo.com. Experiences or comments both positive and negative are also welcome.

Nina Zippay and Fernando J. Orozco

Ms. Zippay is a writer, lawyer, and mother and currently resides in Mt. Washington. She is Mt. Washington ES School Site Council Chair.

Mr. Orozco works in the entertainment industry. He and his wife, Kelly, have four children and have been residents of Mt. Washington for 15 years. Both are PTA members at Mt. Washington ES.

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Comments

  1. previous student says

    i dont care mt washington is the best elemantry school every, i am a student from  kindergarden to 5th grade i switched to CALS Middle school for 6th grade, either way all the teachers are kind and help children live up their potential.
    ~ Samantha M. Liu student of 2003 – 2009

  2. GreatSchoolButWeLeft says

    To the Unsure ones:

    MWE is really a very good school and, despite the vitriol written above, is greatly aided by a very committed group of parents whether they be members of the PTA or not. I’m sad that our kids are no longer at the school on the top of our hill, mingling with their many neighbors, but we had to make the switch because of our kids learning style. Mount Washington itself has a very progressive feel because of the types of families in the area, but the school is not so. MWE is very academic and follows the curriculum set by LAUSD. They use systems such as Open Court Reading and Pearson Math. These are proven systems (OCR is award-winning) so I don’t blindly or openly criticize them, but they are not necessarily for every kid. There is a lot of homework (compared to my days) and many many worksheets come home each week. Any struggling kid feels the weight of this, but many others do just fine. The district also wants each class to be on roughly the same page of the program in the same week. But somehow the GREAT TEACHERS at MWE also fit in lots of enrichment despite bigger class sizes than just 2 years ago. But if you want a nore progressive, developmental school, look into the many Charter Schools around.

    My advice is that you need to know YOUR KID. More power to the many, many kids who thrive early on in the LAUSD system. And YOUR KID’S TEACHER will be far more important than whoever parks in spot #1.

    It was not the principal or the summer showdown that made us leave the school. It was what was best for our family. That being said, I’m glad she’s gone. She was truly an empty suit. I dreaded ever having to deal with her on anything substantive, particularly something as important as an IEP, the source of much of the parental anger. I really hope the new principal is a better fit and more fully recognizes how lucky he/she is to have such committed parents and PTA. Yes, it was ugly, but I’m glad it happened. They must have had the goods on her because behemoth entities like LAUSD don’t cave that easily.

  3. Leaving Mt. Washington says

    We bought our house here 6 years ago, before we even had children, because of the school. Our daughter entered kindergarten this year. As a new parent at Mt. Washington, I was devastated by the treatment I received from the interim principal. She had no interest in helping the children or parents. When I went to her with what we considered a very important issue, she blew off both myself and my husband and just kept instructing us to speak with the teacher. It didn’t matter that we had spoken with the teacher and that led to the greater issue. I realize she is gone now, but she ruined the school experience for our family. I have not had any interaction yet with the newly hired principal but feel she cannot be any worse than the interim principal had been. That said, we are applying to private schools for our child for next year.

  4. Paul says

    We’re parents of a three year old who moved to Mount Washington 7 years ago to be here from the great elementary school.

    I just came across this and like NewUnsureParent I’m also having doubts. If you all are still on this blog, I would love to hear from you all about what is happening at the school now and if this great divide amongst parents still exists.

    Thanks,

    Paul

    • Pilar Buelna says

      Hi, Paul,

      I hope you can still use the following information and thanks for your interest.

      First, let me assure you that our neighborhood school is a wonderful school.

      To answer your question, parents will ultimately come together because of our common denominator: our children. Mt. Washington School parents are no exception and I invite you to come to any of our family events to witness firsthand how, despite past or current differences, we come together to provide our children with the best possible school experience.

      In October 2010, a committee that included parents, teachers, school staff and administrators interviewed and selected our new principal.

      We welcomed our new principal, Mrs. Valentino, on December 6, 2010. She comes with 16 years of experience. She began her career as a classroom teacher and later served as a literacy coach and content expert in reading. She lives in our community with her family.

      In three short months she’s already made her mark, adding a school counselor, instituting a monthly “Coffee with the Principal” to increase communication with parents, and organizing a school Spring Clean-up. Our children like and respect her.

      I invite you to our Guided School Tour on Thursday, April 14, 8:15 am. I’ve no doubt that you will understand what I mean about being a wonderful neighborhood school.

      Please feel free to contact me at pilar.buelna@yahoo.com if I can provide more information.

      -Pilar

  5. NewUnsureParent says

    I was gearing up to try to find a way to get my child into this school. Now I’m not so sure I wish to interact with such an “entitled” group of parents. Think I’ll go elsewhere…and I didn’t even have an experience with the past principal.

  6. BeCarefulWhatYouAskFor says

    I am the parent of a special needs child at Mt Washington and am painfully aware of all the bureaucratic red tape implicit in an unwieldy district such as LAUSD. I have found that if you expect red tape, you don’t feel blindsided when you walk into it.

    I was blissfully unaware of the politics leading up to what appears to be an ouster of Ms Kralian, but after the beginning of the school year I became curious: What on earth could Ms Kralian have done that made her less suited to the task than the interim principal? Did she kill someone? Did she steal (I mean really steal)?

    [A caveat: my experience of school, the principal — and probably life in general — is probably very different from most of yours. My appraisal (and acceptance) of Ms Kralian was based not on her demeanor or availability or actions/inactions that MIGHT possibly somehow somewhere down the line affect my child or the third child behind him in line, but on her attitude toward my child. No, she was not perfect. Yes, communication was a problem at times, but Ms Kralian was not the only one complicit in that failure. Many of the failures are systemic, not personal.]

    But, let me ask you, this year, are our KIDS better off? I hope yours will be, but mine is not. Because this new interim principal has neither the training nor the temperament, neither the experience nor the compassion, to deftly interact with kids such as mine (and maybe yours too), and this is a fact that negatively affects him each and every school day. (More than a new blue gate or a belated “entitlement” would.)

    It is not my style to get involved in organized school politics. But now, this year, I feel like I need to — not to make sure that LAUSD is not acting solely in its own best interest — but to make sure that my fellow parents are not.

  7. Renee Tajima says

    I’m entering this blog at a late date because we are one of the families that left Mt. Washington School because of our frustration with Kralian. It was a big decision, and believe me, we had to be pretty fed up to leave our neighborhood school where we had three wonderful years with great teachers and the former principal, Ms. Poole. I am glad to hear that parents at the school were empowered and organized enough to get Kralian replaced. But the problems go far deeper – and higher – than one principal. I found LAUSD to be astonishingly unresponsive to our concerns as parents–really something of a great bureaucratic abyss. The district 4 director, Maureen Diekmann, was protective of Kralian–perhaps because of her instincts as a bureaucrat or personal friendship-I could never figure that one out. I contacted the offices of other officials including two School Board members including that of our own district 4 rep, Steve Zimmer, assuming that the School Board at least nominally represents parents. No one bothered to respond. The only helpful person I encountered was Sue Spears from the Educational Equity Compliance Office. Granted her office is mandated to address these kinds of questions and are probably mindful of the potential for litigation. Nevertheless, she was engaged and communicative. I won’t go into detail about what we perceived as inequities, favoritism, lack of transparency and unresponsiveness under the Kralian regime. I’ve read/heard the same from other families and in other blogs. The one thing that I will say, that really struck me through all my dealings with Ms. Kralian, Diekmann, et al, is that their discourse was all about policy, procedure, or more often, obfuscation. NO ONE ever spoke to me in terms of what is BEST FOR THE CHILD. It was not even a consideration. That says it all.

  8. Lauren Steiner says

    I just read this article and skimmed the comments. All I can say is thank God my kid went to Westwood Charter. There was a virtual love fest going on there among the parents, administrators, teachers and kids for all six years I was there. I am so sorry to hear of the division and dissension at this school. I cannot help but believe that the kids must be the ones to ultimately suffer from this.

    My second comment is thank God you have a forum in the LA Progressive to have this dialogue. With all the media consolidation I have seen in the last 30 years, it is only due to the internet that this ultra local outlet exists for you. I hope more organizations in the community utilize this wonderful resource for truly interactive communication. Hopefully this will lead to more community participation in all the institutions that affect your neighborhood. And please remember to support the LA Progressive should it need your help ever.

  9. Fernando says

    MW-As important as this blog was to open discussion, in fact lighting a fire under the issue, I will not explain line item, the errors you perceive. You are just too far from the reality of the situation to entertain anything further here. There is simply no other way of saying that.

    Our methods, this blog notwithstanding, might seem like a well oiled, political movement to readers not in our “club”, thank you. Rather, it is a group of parents and some teachers that gathered together with a list of grave concerns that affected the most precious people they know, their kids. Then they dared to articulate it. You should have made a list of the principals accomplishments and published that instead of belatedly slamming us for exposing failure. We have no name, or flag or dastardly agenda. We are in want of a school that has an undeniable advocate willing to, without reservation, include all parents even if they are enemies, difficult, demanding, stupid, vindictive, rude, lazy…. Moreover, if one child is lost in the school system we are all to blame.

    Since you are intimidated by the 5’4″ tall Pilar, I urge you to do some leg work of your own and talk to Dr. Vigil or Yolie Flores, your local leaders in this matter. Ask them, what point did they turn their opinion to make the ongoing changes they have. Dr. Vigil has a copy of all the facts we collected in his possession and has been given permission to show it. (Except student names). I am confident through discussions with them both, no decision was made in hast or rashly. In fact, they came to each turn ready to listen but made no delusions of their intent to us. I wish I had a boss like Maureen Diekmann, she is a principals greatest advocate, albeit to much detriment. The point is the choice was not ours to make, but the actions we took are our obligation.

    So now we have change, what next? “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions”. They pick another principal from a pool of unproven people without communication skills, or the ability make it to work on time? Someone who is great at writing grants or politicking? $110,000 a pension and “Cadillac” health care should afford a better choice. It is not a perfect world someone said, so should we accept mediocrity, I will not. It is with this thought WE are asking to be involved, it is going to be a lot of work, no doubt.

    I have posted my likeness for all to see, a symbol, exposing the importance of my involvement for everyone, detractors and advocates. You have proven by your anonymity the dialogue here is issue driven and not the person behind it, I disagree. The arguments you are posing now are no longer relevant or productive to todays situation, so as a matter of civic responsibility I am comfortable not responding to your further comments, should you decide to make any. It is pointless…

    I guess I was wrong in my assumption of who you are, I would have sworn you were either Glen Beck or Bill O Riley.

    Fernando Orozco

    Moderator: Please correct my “typo” of the word “Librarian”. Just kidding…

  10. Pilar Buelna says

    Mt. Washingtonian:

    I stand behind the organizing of our movement for change at our school. In fact, quite proud of it.

    Although I had originally intended to sign as PTA President, I opted not to and, therefore, never misrepresented PTA.

    No one did anything to anyone. The argument for change was kept to facts. These facts spoke loud and clear and this is why we have new administration.

    I’ve moved on. I hope you can, too.

  11. Mt. Washington Voices says

    Greetings,

    Thanks to all who attended Friday’s meeting. We are happy to report that it was a very successful meeting where parents were heard and respected. In fact, Dr. Vigil strongly encouraged parents to become partners in our children’s education at MWES and was willing to provide us with support.

    Summary
    In attendance: Yolie Flores, Superintendent Vigil, Ron Palacios, Maureen Diekmann, 4 Mt. Washington teachers, 35 – 45 Mt. Washington parents and community members, and 6 Monte Vista parents.

    New Principal
    · An interim principal will be appointed until a permanent principal is selected. The interim principal will begin on August 13th.
    · Internal LAUSD posting for new Mt. Washington Principal will be place in August.
    · Principal selection will include a panel of representation from teachers, school staff, and parents.

    Budget
    · A meeting to review Mt. Washington ES budget will be held on Thursday, August 12, at 6:00 pm in the MPR at the school. This is open to everyone.
    · The interim principal will be calling for a School Site Council meeting sometime the third week in August to address the $85,000.
    · LAUSD to provide an account of the monies from parents spent to date including funds donated by kinder-parents for TAs for FY 2009-2010.

    IEPs
    · Superintendent Vigil assured parents that the district will look into and help resolve the multiple IEP issues parents have experienced.

    Community Re-building
    · The interim principal will hold a meeting for kinder parents in preparation for the new school year.
    · She/he will also hold a general meeting sometime in September to address the changes in our school.

    Parent Representation in Principal Selection
    · Ron from Yolie Flores’ office will be putting us in touch with a school in the Valley where parents were included in the principal selection. We hope to use this as a guide for our school.

    Our Stories
    · A binder with all our stories was presented to Superintendent Vigil. Included was a comprehensive account of all Mrs. Kralian’s actions and letters from parents that lead to change at our school. As a community that is well known for its advocacy and for being progressive, we have done our civic duty in putting her professional performance, or lack thereof, on record.
    · Several parents echoed the concern that many of us expressed when we heard that Mrs. Kralian had been “promoted” to Monte Vista. Superintendent Vigil conveyed that she will be closely supervised and provided with the tools needed to succeed. Her performance would be reviewed in three months.
    · A Monte Vista teacher was present and expressed concern over not having had a voice with regard to Mrs. Kralian’s appointment to her school. We hope that by putting our accounts on record, those parents can build on our documents if needed to bring change to their school.

  12. angelica garza says

    Last night’s meeting was incredibly productive.

    Look forward to seeing everyone at the budget meeting which is scheduled for August 12 and will most likely take place at the Jack and Denny Smith Center (the time is yet to be determined.)

    Now is the time to set aside any divergent views and look at how we can best use our limited funds for the kids to flourish.

  13. Ms Legacki says

    Concerning the 6th grade teacher…I have worked across the hall from her for over 10 years. She is a fantastically devoted teacher who adores her students. Her class is organized and her goals are clear. There is no child who is allowed to fall through the cracks. Besides the general curriculum which she also adds considerable enrichment. Each year she takes her students on at least 10+ field trips which enrich what they are studying. She also takes them on a 5 day trip to Science Camp…yes, overnight. There are also many other activities to expand and develop the curriculum. I have seen MANY students who were floundering, excel and gain tremendous confidence. When these students leave 6th grade, they are ready for middle school. Parents should not listen to rumor, but go visit this class before they decide whether this is the class for their child.

  14. Mt. Washingtonian says

    Oh, People, I agree with you about the course forward, we need to get back together and keep Mt. Washington great. My concern at this point into the future is, have we learned the right lessons? Principal Kralian did make ‘friends’ amongst the parents, particularly those who were deeply involved and spent great amounts of time at the school. I would think they were better defined as ‘good working relationships’ myself. As far as I can see, there is no evidence that those relationships resulted in overt favoritism. Still, it set up the ability for the perception to flourish. So what we end up communicating to the next administrator we get is that you’d better keep it strictly professional (read: cool and impersonal, but cordial) so as to avoid even the possibility of the perception of impropriety. I believe we’d all be better off if some parents that were quick to read malice into many actions reconsider their judgment process, and allow that they don’t know all the background in all the relationships (watch out about gossip folks!), and should hesitate to be judgmental on things short of actual, verifiable improprieties.

    Sometimes, when you think you’re setting out to fight the good fight, and wade into the melee, you might find in your enthusiasm that you’ve done more harm than good. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Assess your actions and their results, and never assume that your good intentions are enough to justify any action.

    Let’s hope we can all do that, and that the damage from this whole escapade is not too severe.

  15. Oh, people says

    Wow, reading your posts saddens me more than I can express. You are attacking each other!! Don’t we all have the same goal? A great education for our kids?

    This is not about how we, as parents, feel about Kralian, it’s about the climate that she has created. From what I have read, she has allowed some into to her circle and excluded others. As someone said – she’s set up a divide and conquer situation.

    We need to pull together at this point and present the district with what we feel we need from a principal. Please leave your emotions behind and let’s talk about what we need in a principal.

    • Fernando says

      I agree, “Oh people”, you will be happy to know yesterdays meeting was about just that topic. Dr. Vigil spoke of rebuilding and repair, with his support. We will have an interim administrator, and parent, teacher input into the new principal. Unusual for LAUSD. Although, my understanding is that many legal issues are in play. I have tasked myself to learn these. Additionally, it was a consensus, it would require several meetings to achieve these goal. Budget issues and allocation of funds will be presented at a meeting soon to be announced, open to everyone. SSC will convene at the first permissible opportunity, pursuant to law. Open to everyone.

      A more detailed account of the meeting should be made available soon.

      I recall a time in the cold being covered in muck up to my ears with only a flashlight to see by, knowing that no one would ever know who took down the haunted house. I now know that I was not alone. Thank you Janet for your help too. Who ever you are.

  16. Janet says

    Mount Washington – I thank you for all the things you have said and pointed out. Many of us are thinking the same things. I am, by no means, being “vindictive” or a “sore loser” I am just really frustrated and not happy with the, as I like to call them, rotten apples spoiling the bunch. I am indeed a parent of more than one child in this school and live within walking distance, hence a part of this community. I have also volunteered in many, many aspects of this school. Some of the people stirring up all of this business, I HAVE NEVER seen volunteering in many of these matters.

    In fact…Nina, Pilar, Fernando, Kelly…I don’t recall seeing you or hearing your name at too many functions in which an “opinion” was NOT warranted. And I also feel Pilar should NOT be PTA president and if there is a petition or a way to make that happen I will be the first one to sign.

    I, myself, have made sizable donations to this school in so many ways. I also am friends with a good number of parents on both “sides” of this “great divide” (which I feel is the result of this mess). My last comment should not be taken as me being a sore loser but more as a person who knows the saying, “Be careful what you wish for. because you might just get it all!” VERY, VERY, well.

    BTW – no, Janet is not my real name. I feel the same as Mount Washington stated earlier.

  17. Fernando says

    The downside to anonymity is that it mutes your voice..

    I thought everyone knew… My mistake…

    Carlin G. Center 6:00 pm July 30…

    We do have the responsibility of keeping the number down to 70…

    • says

      Fernando — In the future, if you are having an event please feel free to post it on the LA Progressive calendar and encourage your friends to do the same.

    • Mt.Washingtonian says

      “Responsibility of keeping the number down to 70″ ???
      Which of course is the number of parents in your movement- your club. Convenient. What happened to openness and transparency? I thought you were fighting for community involvement and that you wanted to build community, not divide it. I probably didn’t know because I didn’t email in to mountwashingtonvoices@yahoo.com. It seemed a way of controlling access and forcing people to take sides publicly in a situation that, from at least my perspective, wasn’t clear enough to take sides. At this point, I’m more on the side of Principal Kralian as I feel there hasn’t been an adequate argument made to be against her in this way, and to justify the actions that have had a clearly negative impact on the greater school community.

      So perhaps you can keep us informed about the nature of the meeting tonight. I’m not feeling welcome, or optimistic that I’ll be seeing a new post or update here that presents more solid evidence.

      • Fernando says

        Put that way it does sound suspect to exclusivity but Carlin G. has a 70 person capacity. Fire code, That’s all. Eventually you are going to be seeing all of the same people at the school anyway. And, if you are the person I suspect, I really like you as much as I know you and the tremendous amount of time you have committed to the school.
        I will work on a web site that has all of the information on it so that anyone can search it in private. Only some of the information is in digital form, and we have a lot. In Kralian’s defense though, would it be a good idea to do this…? I’ll leave that up to your response. We can think of another way. You are welcome at the meeting, I promise you this is not going to be a yelling match. No finger pointing!

        Only two people have access to the Voices email, I am not one of them, and we can ask that it is reduced to only one if you like. This way you can communicate without being pointed out… I will also add to this blog the results of the meeting.

  18. Kelly says

    I can’t believe Janet is a parent at Mt. Washington Elementary or a community member. Those words are a sore looser saying good-bye…

  19. Mt.Washingtonian says

    Moderator: please add close italics at “evan after the community raised $75,000 independent of the $85,000″

    Thanks if you can.

  20. Fernando says

    This morning parents received a call from the Robo-Caller LAUSD uses to send information to the parent body. Principal Kralian in her own voice says she is being promoted to principal of Monte Vista ES. A meeting scheduled this Friday to present documentation to the new Superintendent, Dale Vigil regarding all of the topics that we have been discussing on this blog is certainly something that may have influenced this. How can anyone know?

    But my question now is what is the future of Monte Vista ES?

    • Janet says

      What about the future of MOUNT WASHINGTON!!?? Well I hope everyone gets everything they have wished for and more. Karma is a fickle chick…LOL

      • Fernando says

        Your vindictive attitude is not welcome… Shame, shame, shame on you… Mt Washington ES has a bright feature now. I fear for Monte Vista…

    • Mt.Washingtonian says

      It seems unnecessary that this conversation degrade into personal attacks, and in so doing it only further toxifies the social environment at our beloved school. A once unified and motivated parent body is becoming fractured and de-motivated. Hopefully this is a reversible trend, but it must look bad to parents who aren’t in the more involved ranks (for perfectly legitimate reasons like work, family life and so forth) and just make it all the easier to not get involved. This increasingly toxic environment is why I (perhaps like Janet) will not identify myself by name on this comment. I apologize for that. When those who disagree with the positions taken here are looked askance at (as though they are some sort of ‘Sosie collaborator’) it stifles discussion. In part, this is why I’ve avoided the entire issue of “the $85,000” as there hasn’t seemed to have been any legitimate evidence (outside of accusations from parents with personal agendas), and what evidence has been presented (straightforwardly, without having to email to get it), has seemingly been refuted by the district.

      I would not put myself in the category of being one who is defending the actions of the Principal in all cases. I see myself as being more concerned that people are asking for a proverbial ‘head on a platter’, and I’ve yet to see evidence worthy of such ends. Is it too much to ask for convincing evidence rather than only seemingly overwrought accusations, backed only by emphatic assurances of truth, some of which have already been brought into question if not outright proven false? Here’s a good example of accusations and intimations without backing- just assurances that they are to be trusted:
      “But, the facts of the article are true, money was missing, until the letter to Diekmann it was, “rumor”. This is what we were told. Turns out that was not the whole truth. Theft is such a subjective word though. I prefer the phrases, “cloaked in secrecy, withheld from public view, decided on without public input?,” and my favorite, “hidden Federal Funds from MW community?” Twist it the way you like, but I have the documentation.”
      Yeah, ‘trust me’.

      Supposedly there is further evidence, but it’s not yet been posted on this blog, and was not included either in the letter circulated previously, or the original post here. What has been presented in the comments seems rather inconclusive and without any further backing, doesn’t support the accusations either. Why the ‘cloaking in secrecy’? Where’s the ‘transparency’? Why not just lay out all your cards on the table to help you gather more support for your efforts, unless you think your message needs to be better spun to achieve your desired ends?

      Transparency would be served by laying all your evidence out in this public forum up front. Transparency would mean Pilar Buelna making clear that this is not a PTA movement, but one of a group of parents. As of yet, she’s offered no clarification on this (in the original email to which the letter was attached, or in the comments here), even though there are now several comments expressing the perception that this effort is affiliated with the PTA. In fact, it would seem that she has acted inappropriately in her standing as a PTA officer by allowing the perception that she is acting as PTA President (partly by her never failing to mention her office, including in the original e-mail sent with the letter), and perhaps should step down. Fernando Orozco does clarify days later, but has to add “unwarranted”, as if he is the arbiter of the validity of others’ perceptions. Pilar Buelna has also apparently not distributed the letter of response she received from Director Diekmann (now in these comments thanks to LisaH) to all the parents from whom she solicited signatures. Why not? Where is the transparency? Doesn’t fit the narrative, so it must be ignored, it seems. Gina Antestenis comments are a clarifier on the issue of Pilar Buelna not acting as PTA President as regards this issue, and her attitude that unity and a less toxic attitude are worth far more to our community than your so-called ‘clarity’ is one that needs hearing. This quest for the Principal’s head is tearing apart the heart of our school community. Which is the greater problem- the principal not wishing to include her known enemies in the decision making process for spending the $85,000 one-time allotment of funds (which appears to be your accusation, for which there seems precious little evidence), or the production of an environment that will inevitably turn parents off from getting involved and perhaps even from coming to the school, and is sure to have a negative impact on fund raising next year? (as evidenced by some comments here already).

      As for the $85,000, I know through several other people who attended the ‘invitation only’ meeting that the money was never discussed, even tangentially. It was apparently about refocusing energies on our kids and discussing the vision for our school looking forward. I can hardly fault Principal Kralian for not inviting persons who seem obsessed with crucifying her for their own personal reasons to a meeting seemingly designed to make a positive move forward.

      Nina Zippay, as an attorney, don’t you think you should be clear about the Brown Act and to whom it applies? Perhaps you could clarify for us, but my understanding is that it applies only to the “legislative bodies” of “local agencies”- i.e. the LAUSD Board and their committees, as they are elected officials. It does not seem it would apply to employees of the district. Also, your comment “…and hope that everyone, not just a select few, will have an opportunity to speak and become informed about how we can collectively improve our school.” is rather curious. As a PTA Board member, and Chair of the School Site Council, surely you understand that all voices do have the opportunity to be heard, and those who have the time and inclination can be informed. In fact, you and Pilar Buelna are evidence of that, are you not? Nothing gets approved that is within the purview of those bodies without a vote- in fact, your votes- isn’t that correct? At the PTA General Membership emergency meeting for budget approval of the 2010-11 budget, everyone had a chance to speak (civilly or not), and to hear the presentations of others who had various views on the issues at hand. The budget was approved (IIRC) by a vote of around 30 to 2 with a couple of abstentions. If people can’t or won’t become members of the PTA, and come to the public general membership meetings and get informed and be heard, well, you know what they say about horses and water and all.

      Fernando Orozco: “No one has ever even suggested that the money has been stolen. So stop it…”
      Really? Mr. Buelna openly accused the Principal of “fraud” at the PTA General Membership meeting. Does that not qualify?

      Mr. Orozco, further: “But, did you know that we may not have a Liberian [sic] next year? No orchestra? No Arts or Dance program? (VAPA) “Even after the community raised $75,000 independent of the $85,000.”

      Yes, all this because of the problems in the district and state, and the PTA Board had choices to make about supporting teachers aides or some portion of these programs. What do you choose? The teachers were adamant about aides, and that was the main pretense of fund raising efforts the previous year, and so that was the decision of the board. We also may still face teacher cuts and office staff cuts. We can’t pay for it all. These are the sorts of issues that have been discussed and debated, and voted on. Are you not satisfied with the process? That $85,000 won’t solve all problems- it wouldn’t even be much of a band-aid, since you’d still have to figure out what to do next year- unless you think we can get fundraising up another $85,000 in this economy…

      I suppose, transparency would also mean you might want to share the info about the time and place of this meeting tomorrow with Superintendent Vigil, Fernando Orozco, so that not only ‘the right kind of parents’ can attend and have their voices heard.

      So now, Principal Kralian will move on to another school, and the revolving door of the Principal’s office at Mt. Washington continues to spin. Doesn’t anyone wonder why we get principals who will either retire or move up within two or three years, instead of a longer term stay? Could it be that running a school with hyper-involved parents (for better and worse), no money (as a non-Title I school), and a skeleton staff isn’t exactly considered a plum position? If we get a principal who’s even trying to do a good job, we ought to consider ourselves lucky. We can trumpet about our ‘rights’ and DEMAND! answers, but to what end? Why set out on an overtly antagonistic crusade with ulterior motives, when our community is better served keeping to civil discussion and doing the best with what we have. This is the real world folks! Perfection doesn’t exist, and this ‘quest’ is only hurting our kids in the end. Is that really what you wanted?

      • Nina Zippay says

        To Mt. Washingtonian,

        To clarify I referred to the Brown Act in terms of its intent and goals, not as it would apply or not apply to an invitation-only meeting held at the school. Regardless of the Brown, Green, or Purple Act to meet in such a way in light of what was happening at the school didn’t seem appropriate and did not adhere to LAUSD policy. My opinion on this matter has not changed.

        In terms of evidence, there is much information and documentation that has come to light in recent months, the majority of which is a matter of public record. You’re correct that it should be shared for all to see.

      • Pilar Buelna says

        Mt.Washingtonian:

        The fact that you don’t have the courage to provide your identity makes me feel like you warrant no response.

        However, I am compelled to clarify your inaccurate statements for the record and as a responsibility to the 70+ parents who had the courage to sign their names to make change happen.

        • I didn’t identify myself as PTA President because this was not a PTA cause. This was a parent and community cause; although, half of the PTA board signed and supported the effort.
        • Everyone who signed the letter provided an e-mail and received a copy of the Diekmann letter. Our parents are educated, informed and involved. Truly you don’t know our parents and community if you think people signed without being informed.
        • I’ve been involved as a PTA board member for the past four years. One of those years as Treasurer, perhaps the most time consuming office. Last year, I spent countless hours helping plan for the direct appeal and calling parents individually. I was president for the latter part of last year and was voted in again to serve for next year.

        I have no doubt that our school will move forward. If there is anything this movement has taught us, is that change can only happen when people unite and believe in what they are fighting for. We will do the same to make our school exceptional.

        Mt. Washingtonian, I have a strong feeling I know who you are. Rest assure that that I hold no grudges. I will continue to work alongside with you for our school, because at the end of the day, we are all parents and parents will always come together for their children.

      • Mt. Washingtonian says

        Pilar, I thought I addressed the reasons for not identifying myself, and recognized that it was less than ideal. Unfortunately, given the passive aggressive undercurrent here (as noted earlier) and the fact that if I feel someone is on an unjust quest to finish someone’s career, I’m feeling a little intimidated in confronting them. You seemed to sympathize with those on your side who felt similarly, so surely you understand- though you seem so dismissive, so I’m not sure.

        “I don’t think this article is about whether the principal knew about the funds. It’s about, now that the funds are here, why hasn’t a meeting been called to talk about it with School Site Council, just like Mr. Cortines requested.”-Pilar

        It sure used to be about the $85,000. Once it was explained that yes, Principal Kralian had been at the meetings and did know about it being said that there would be funds, but that they had not actually appeared in the books for our school, and so she thought it prudent to wait to believe it would be here until it was here (which makes plenty of sense if you know anything about how money moves in the LAUSD- just ask all the teachers that didn’t get correct paychecks for almost a year and a half)- then it became about your insistence that she not be trusted on her own to decide where best to spend that money after some discussion in SSC and the PTA (taking your assumptions at face value and believing that she would actually spend it on things that no one had discussed. Not everyone is in full agreement about where we spend the PTA money even now, but some have to compromise to get anything done. Why should this money be handled any differently?). Moving goalposts is usually a sign of a weak argument.

        ”Some of us see the need for vast improvements as plain as day, others have genuinely not seen it. Still others have a hard time with questioning authority…”-Angelica

        So if we disagree, we’re just poor weak souls who are incapable of ‘questioning authority’? I don’t need you to ‘save’ me from anything, thank you, and I’m quite capable of questioning authority- just not the one you’d like me to, apparently.

        ”The letter that was distributed for signatures was immediately signed by 20 parents, several of which sought to sign without further discussion and some offered to help distribute it. Another 50 took it home to read, ask questions, talked to their partners and 32 returned it signed. Two of the original signatories have since asked to be removed from the list, and they were. 42 additional parents have added their names over the last months. That is about 70 individuals”-Fernando

        20 Parents is the core group and a few friends, with spouses/partners. Out of 50, 32 signed therefore 18 did not- that’s out of a select group of ‘the right parents’ who understand the problem and are unafraid of ‘questioning authority’. Two later asked to be removed- interesting, isn’t it? I’m not sure how 42 others signed over “the last months” as so far as I knew (and I admit, I may not be the most ‘in-the-loop parent, but I’m around) the letter was distributed, at least with some breadth, the night before it was asked that they be returned to Pilar for packaging and sending to the district. It’s interesting to me that a group who are fighting “…for truth, transparency, inclusion and accountability” have apparently been working on this for months but have carefully been exclusive to only ‘the right kind of parents’, and as of yet, have not demonstrated transparency to any real degree. Here’s the email as proof of the timeline as I understand it, since I ask for such a standard, I should stand by it myself (any bold or italics in the email are original):

        I need all letters by 8:15 am tomorrow to turn in to District .
        Greetings Parents and Community Members,
        Per our conversation, attached is the letter that we will be sending to the District. Following are instructions on how to handle if you agree to sign after reading:

        •Sign your name and after your name write parent of 1st grader (or whatever grades your child or children is/are in). For community members, sign community member.
        •You can drop off your letter tonight at my house [address redacted] Please call me if you have any questions at C: 323-[redacted] or H:323-[redacted] after 8 pm.
        •If you can’t drop off tonight at my house, I will be at the Valet Parking area tomorrow from 7:50 to 8:15 am. If you want to drop –off there, or give to another parent to give to me. I need them all by 8:15 am to give to District later that morning.
        •Please get other parents or community members to sign and feel free to forward to everyone and anyone that will support us. Volume is of upmost importance if we are going to have our voices heard.

        Lastly, I want to say that as parents we have the responsibility to make sure our children are being provided with the best possible education. We are the only ones that can ensure this. We are also the only ones that can show them that speaking out is important, however hard this is sometimes, so that they never feel that they have no voice.
        If it’s okay with you, I will be letting the District know that as PTA President, I will be the contact person so that they can communicate when they would like to meet with us.
        Thank you so very much for your courage and support.
        Pilar
        -End of email-
        Note the short time allotted to consider this letter and it’s implications. Pilar’s ‘correction’ #2: ”• Everyone who signed the letter provided an e-mail and received a copy of the Diekmann letter. Our parents are educated, informed and involved. Truly you don’t know our parents and community if you think people signed without being informed.” Did not two parents ask to be removed from your list? Why? Second thoughts? Reconsiderations? From what I’ve heard from some people, yes, I think they felt rushed, trusted too much, and acted on their sense of duty to the community when they’d been led to believe there was a problem requiring this kind of correction- on your word. That they might have been misinformed may not have been their fault. Also note that Pilar again mentions her standing as PTA President. I wonder if most people know that the reason Pilar is PTA President is because no one else wanted the job.
        Pilar’s ‘correction’ #1: ” • I didn’t identify myself as PTA President because this was not a PTA cause. This was a parent and community cause; although, half of the PTA board signed and supported the effort.”
        It seems you did, at least in reference, use your standing as PTA President in the course of correspondence with the parents you were recruiting to your crusade, and perhaps even in your contact with the district. I see even the implications here as problematic, but perhaps I’m just a stickler on use of the power and reputation of the PTA. Of two comments you’ve made in this blog post, previous to this last one, you’ve referenced your position once directly (speaking in the voice of the office of PTA President) and once as parent- but both times under the same commenter name- with no distinction as to the difference of voice, and never corrected anyone who expressed an incorrect perception of the involvement of the PTA in this matter. Others did later, but it seems to me it was your clear responsibility to do so yourself, and to be clear in identifying when you spoke as PTA President, and when as a parent. Those are just the responsibilities of the office. So half the board signed? Of course, I’m not sure if you mean the new board or the board at the time, but either way, I’m skeptical it’s half unless you’re not including the Principal and two teacher reps. Also, if half the board signed, and right is on your side, and you have all this indisputable evidence, why could you not persuade the other half to sign? In fact, as PTA president, shouldn’t you have had these issues discussed in public forum to gather all views, rather than just those in agreement with you?
        In the letter attached to the email, and sent to the district, there were descriptions of events that, while generally technically correct as I understand it, they might be characterized or ‘colored’ a bit differently depending on your point of view. Then it gets to what appears to be the main complaint of the letter- judging by the fact it is the only underlined text in the body of the letter:
        On June 7, 2010, we learned reliably through the Offices of Local District 3 and 4, [underline begins] that in fact the additional Non-Title I school funds have already been allocated for use to Mt. Washington ES as reflected in our school’s budget submitted by Principal Kralian in early May.[end underline]”
        As it turns out, what they learned ‘reliably’ was that when they called the office and spoke to a person in finance, that yes, all non Title I schools were supposed to get the money. After this, they discovered that in fact, Principal Kralian had been correct all along, and that the actual processes for designating those monies for Mount Washington specifically had not occurred and until this had been caught and corrected, Principal Kralian was correct in being uncertain about monies promised but not yet delivered. This was addressed by the letter from Maureen Diekmann (posted in comment by LisaH July 20 12:11am) which Pilar received prior to the PTA general membership meeting to approve the 2010-11 budget, but which had not yet been distributed- at least not to everyone, and certainly not to the general public. Since Pilar is now telling us that she did in fact distribute it to everyone on her list, I’ll apologize for making a broad statement earlier about it, and correct myself here by noting the time frame above. Accuracy matters. So again, we see that when one issue is addressed, another becomes their focus. When the facts as they stated them are shown to be not quite so (on what appeared to be the central point of their complaint), we’re still to believe that they’re absolutely infallible on everything else, and we should try to damage or even possibly end someone’s career based solely on that. Shouldn’t we consider the seriousness of such actions, and what standard of proof should be used in making such claims and requests?
        ”But, the facts of the article are true, money was missing, until the letter to Diekmann it was, “rumor”. This is what we were told. Turns out that was not the whole truth.”-Fernando
        Yet, if you see things with different eyes, the article is something less than true, yes money was missing- but is found, and you focus on the use of the word “rumor”, but how it was used and in what context matter a great deal- don’t they? From what I’ve seen so far, this group should not consider themselves reliable arbiters of what is or is not “the whole truth”.
        ”It does not appear that anyone can speak for you, seriously no one has.”-Fernando
        It certainly feels as if a group of parents has presented themselves to LAUSD as being representative of the community. Will you just respond to this as seeing our perceptions as sadly mistaken, while your perceptions are hard fact- if only we could be enlightened! Do you have any documentation of communications to the district that make it explicitly clear that you do not represent even the majority of the community, and in fact represent around 15% of the parent body? Oh, wait- that’s incorrect- since some signers were “community members”, so perhaps they aren’t parents? Who knows?- so your group represents less than 15% of the parent community. Folks, just because the people you talk to agree with you doesn’t mean everyone does or even that most people do.
        Here’s Fernando: ”No one has ever even suggested that the money has been stolen.” from his July 24, 2:15pm comment. Compare that to just two days later-July 26, 12:20pm comment:
        ”Theft is such a subjective word though. I prefer the phrases, “cloaked in secrecy, withheld from public view, decided on without public input?,” and my favorite, “hidden Federal Funds from MW community?” Twist it the way you like, but I have the documentation.”
        So this part is a bit cryptic, but if I were as quick to assume as you all seem to be, I might see this as accusing Mrs. Kralian of being a thief or embezzler of federal funds. I can’t imagine I’m understanding it correctly though. I’d love clarification of just what does this mean. I’d also like to see the documentation posted publicly so we all know we’re looking at the same set of facts, then I could review it myself, since I seem not to see things the same way as others, and I may not agree. On the other hand, if this were all true and there was real proof, I’d join you all in a minute, with apologies galore. When is it all getting posted? Of course, either way, you’ve just made apparently contradictory statements. Yet we’re to trust you on such a serious matter?
        While I’m at it, I haven’t even dug into the original post:
        ”The principal explains at a June PTA meeting she didn’t get the April 6 memo allocating the funds.” The implication here being that she ‘conveniently forgot’. In fact, this was confirmed by Mrs. Diekmann- that the list of schools to get the memo, and be included in the dispersal of the funds had Mt. Washington left off it- a mistake! Yet the persistence that there’s some sort of conspiracy going on…
        ”Can LAUSD actually “gift” away public taxpayer dollars?” Of course not, and again you focus on a single word, out of context, perhaps poorly chosen. Even if, in your worst case scenario here, where the money was spent was decided solely by Principal Kralian? What exactly do you think she’s going to spend it on that you would find so objectionable? What makes you think your opinions about where it should be spent are shared by even a majority of other parents? You may feel (and perhaps rightly so) that it’s better to engage the community extensively and in numerous meetings decide where that money should go, but you seem to think some horrible fate awaits us if we trust our principal. I’m sure the next Principal will feel very welcome here.
        ”Superintendent Cortines corrects her stating that these funds are not “a gift” and the School Site Council (SSC), an elected group of parents, teachers and principal, must be involved. Thankfully, someone in LAUSD took a public policy class and remembers their basic civics lessons.”
        I’ll take this at face value for the moment- Does that mean that Superintendent Cortines made this an original condition of the distribution of the funds or did he decide to make it a condition after your complaints arrived? Doesn’t that make any difference in assessing things?
        Then we get to the part about ‘the meeting’ and how it was somehow secret (though you knew about it), and you make assumptions about the content of the meeting and whether or not it should be recorded in minutes!:
        ” The scheduling for this impromptu meeting was not directly made available to the SSC; nor was it announced to the parent body or the community. It was the principal’s own meeting, without a published agenda or records taken. This is a meeting for the “right” kind of parent, it is said. They speak of committees regarding budget, safety, and other important matters of public education. To be involved or invited, one must be the right kind of parent..”
        So I suppose we should warn the incoming interim and permanent Principals that they cannot have impromptu meetings with some parents for knocking ideas around without making it a full public meeting, with someone recording minutes, and it all being fully on the record. Sorry, you just can’t solicit the opinions of a few parents without causing problems with others. Never mind that some of those others are people who are out for your job, and some of them are at times disruptive or derail meetings with their personal beefs. Yes, everyone should have the chance to be heard, but there are times and places for it, and everyone should also try to hear themselves- you might be surprised how you sound.
        Pilar ‘correction’ #3: ”• I’ve been involved as a PTA board member for the past four years. One of those years as Treasurer, perhaps the most time consuming office. Last year, I spent countless hours helping plan for the direct appeal and calling parents individually. I was president for the latter part of last year and was voted in again to serve for next year.”
        I’m not sure why this is a correction- did anyone dispute that you’ve been involved? Is this supposed to be a ‘pissing contest’ about who is more involved and therefore more reliable? I don’t know about treasurer being the most time consuming office (and of course there are those who seem to wear several hats- what of them?), but I’m certainly not going to complain about it if it isn’t- any fairly rendered service to our school community is to be commended. Once there is an appearance of misuse, however, then I have a problem.
        If you’re not understanding by now why some people are having a difficult time supporting your movement and the collateral damage it’s incurred in our community, then I guess you just aren’t going to. Your way or the highway, it seems.
        By the way, I’m almost certainly not who you think I am- but it shouldn’t matter- I’m just asking for the kind of clarity you yourselves asked for. Who I am is irrelevant, unless you want to know who to ‘trust’ or who to ‘watch’. I’m not interested in playing those games.
        m

  21. dana johnson says

    Maybe it is time to find the “RIGHT” principal for our school. This is just one on many issues that this inexperienced principal has handled poorly. This is not the time for her to glean on the job training with my children. Some folks learn from their mistakes and ….others just……….well you know.

  22. Janet says

    I know what I know because I LISTEN at every meeting. I heard what was said while others heard only what they wanted. I was not at the, so called, “invitation only” meeting. I have never had a phone call never returned. When my child had a bullying problem it was the PARENT who was the blame for it going “unchecked”. The principal did everything, I felt, she was capable of. As far as “infestations” go, I have witnessed the office asking parents, myself included, if they would mind letting other parents know of a particular sickness or infestation. Apparently due to privacy issues some parents don’t agree to have the problem “announced”. Are we to blame the admin for EVERYTHING? I personally like to look the whole picture, not just what I think someone may or may not be hiding. If the principal was not forthcoming from the start then how did you all find out about the “rumor”? As far as know SHE told the PTA about it as soon as she heard it.
    My understanding of the previous president resigning was problems with other members and issues with her home. I never once heard her or anyone else say it was because of the principal.
    I agree with one thing you said, everyone has their own opinion.
    I wonder what your children think of all this. When I speak to mine they are very near tears with the thought of losing their principal, who they have come to love. Ask them about the “librarian” and they don’t even know her name. I read somewhere that parents were “pulling” their children out. Well The only time, in ALL of my years with this school, that I ever heard of such a thing is when the children are going to be faced with the 6th grade teacher. THAT is something that should be addressed and dealt with!
    One last thought, I fear that all of this nonsense (for lack of a better word right now)will ruin the experience of the school for those who don’t agree with you and your 70(?) others. I foresee a severe DROP in membership this coming year…sad, very sad.

    • Fernando says

      This is getting dumb, but here goes…

      80 fewer children last year attended the school, that was before this discussion started. So your foresight over “this nonsense”, although tragic, hopefully is the dark before the dawn. I am urging frustrated parents I talk with to stay and fight for change. The number has grown to 90.

      The office staff is not responsible for announcing lice to the parent body, the principal is. Although I would not be surprised if they get blamed by the principal for trying to help. CDC requires that two or more cases of lice in a public school be announced to the entire school, it is also LAUSD policy, names are not given to protect privacy.

      How can your kids love a principal who is always in her office or not at the school? Well, she does hand out pencils sometimes on Monday mornings for birthdays. My children understand the importance of civic activity to question authority, and speak only when they have documentation/facts. It is a problem because facts are stubborn things, so they can be convincing. My oldest daughter had test scores often off the charts all throughout her tenure, always 4s. I think me and mom are on to something! All my kids do spend a lot of time in the Library, so they are on a first/last name basis with the liberian. I only recently began talking with her. Like I said they love her.

      I have in my hand 30 individual complaints from parents stating that they never had a phone call returned, e-mail, etc., most regarding very serious matters. Maybe it was because she was on the phone with you? If any one else wants to offer experiences send them to: mtwashingtonvocies@yahoo.com

      If you don’t like the 6th grade teacher you should have the principal sort that out, others have tried. I personally like her, but that could be me shilling?

      And who are you?

    • angelica garza says

      how is it your children do not know our librarian’s name?

      assuming you actually are a parent at our school, it could be that your children are kindergarten students and have yet to immerse themselves in books. my children (going into 5th and 6th grade GATE programs) spent a lot of time at the school library and have benefited greatly from having Clare Marter Kenyon in their lives. she is an exemplary person – exceedingly intelligent, conscientious and nurturing. one of the many shining lights at the school.

      i am grateful to people like her who have the courage to fight for what is right. i sincerely admire that woman.

      and i am grateful to all the parents who have continued to dedicate their efforts to keeping our school wonderful… so glad i live in a community with people like you.

  23. Fernando says

    I’ll say it again, PTA membership does not require you to surrender your voice. A parent, is a parent first. I am sure the current PTA president has many reasons for wanting change. My understanding is that the last PTA president quit out of frustration with this principal. It created a void for the position that lasted months. I tip my hat to all of the determined PTA.

    Individuals will say a lot of things, but this article stays on point. However, you can make what you will of any comment expressing hurt, on any opinion. Lisa H has one, you certainly have one, I have one. But, the facts of the article are true, money was missing, until the letter to Diekmann it was, “rumor”. This is what we were told. Turns out that was not the whole truth. Theft is such a subjective word though. I prefer the phrases, “cloaked in secrecy, withheld from public view, decided on without public input?,” and my favorite, “hidden Federal Funds from MW community?” Twist it the way you like, but I have the documentation.

    20 parents to staff library – not surprising, MWE parents do have that dedication, no doubt. But, “…no parent, teacher or principal can allow a student to check out a book from the library, without a liberian”, the CSEA labor contract with LAUSD says this. Whatever Clare is, she fulfilled that requirement, and the kids seem to love her. Moreover, how do you know, “…there is still a great chance there WILL be a librarian…”? Where you at the “invitation only” meeting? What secret do you have? SSC has not convened to discuss this. The principal is not doing her job in a transparent manner. Fail…

    fyi, I have been an involved parent at MWE for the past 10 years now, I have 6 more years to go. Almost 22 years ago I tagged along with a college friend who had gone to MWE. I was impressed with his confidence, inventive nature, etc… I quickly saw that it was his roots at MWE that gave him that “extra edge”. The principal at the time invited us to read to some “after school kids” when Michael told her we were Medical Ethics minors, i.e Child Development students, and story tellers at Barnsdall Art Park. I even remember the dog mascot that freely wandered the office years ago. It left an indelible impression on me. So some years later I bought a house on “The Hill”. Thank you for asking…
    Today, PARENTS in the Produce Collective are turned away at the “blue gate” by this principal, bullying in the play yard goes unchecked, countless phone calls are never returned, head lice infestations are late or never announced. The list goes on, so when you say our/my pride, I assume you mean pride in the school. We choose to fight for change.

    AND WHY ARE WE YElling

  24. Janet says

    The librarian…did you know the the “librarian” the school had was not actually a librarian but an assistant. Did you know that, at least, 15 to 20 parents have offered to help keep the library staffed? Did you know that there is still a great chance there WILL be a librarian, just not THAT librarian? Did you also know that the reason the PTA is being blamed for being “involved” in this letter is because our PTA president has been behind a lot of this dissension? If I am not happy in the school, I will either fight for change or remove my child. There are other schools that are just as close and may, very well be better. How long have you been with this school? I have been involved for about 10 years, in all. I have seen 3 principals. I have seen many PTA members. NEVER have I seen a group of people so hell bent on destruction. You talk about accountability…Our taxes pay Sosie Kralian to do a job. She has done that and continues to do so in the face of this crap! She has a responsibility to our children not OUR prides.
    BTW, I can send you the names of a few parents who were told, and I quote, “There is money missing and the principal is responsible!” That, dear sir, is an accusation of theft!
    Also, if someone says “The Parents of Mount Washington….” in any way (verbally, e-mails, letters, etc.), then they are believed to be speaking for ALL 300+ parents!!

    • Pilar Buelna says

      The mission of the PTA is to represent children and parents by “empowering and supporting them with skills in advocacy, leadership, and communication.”

      As PTA President, I speak from the heart when I tell you that we have amazing, dedicated and committed parents that work very hard to make our PTA one of the best in LAUSD. I can tell you that we speak our mind and respect each other’s opinion. We may not always agree, but we know that at the end of the day, we do what we do because we want what’s best for our children.

      Many of us have lived in this community too many years to count them. Taking our children elsewhere is just not an option. Change is.

      • Cecilia Escarcega-Vazquez says

        Thank you Pilar, Fernando and Nina for bringing to light issues that many parents complained about in hushed tones but felt helpless to do anything about. I must admit I was nervous and hesitant to sign my name to the petition requesting the meeting with Ms. Deikmann. After listening to the parents who shared their personal stories at the first meeting held with Ms. Diekmann I no longer felt any hesitation and am so glad I took time off from work to paticipate.

        I appreciate the fact that meetings were conducted in a professional manner and that we followed the protocol for resolving school issues as outlined in the MW parent handbook.

        As a fulltime working sole-parent I don’t get to spend a lot of extra time on campus but I have volunteered as a room rep , chaperoned field trips and donated time and money to support fundraisers during the 3 years that my son has attend MW. Every single parent I have met at Mt. Washington is supportive, thoughtful, respectful and appreciative of our teachers and staff. I say this because I know some of the comments posted on this blog left a bad impression for many of our new MW families that have been following this blog. Mt. Washington ES is a special place as you will experience when take your child to his or her first day of school.

        I agree that we need move away from the negative and focus our time and energy on getting Mt. Washington a much needed leader.

        Did Ms. Deikmann state at mtg yesterday that retired administrators are called upon as interim prinicpals? If so, I’d like to suggest we find out if Karol McQueary (retired principal from Chapman Elementary) is available. We might also consider meeting with two other area principals from Rockdale and Annadale Elementary for their ideas. Both of these principals landed on UTLA’s Top 5 list for this year’s UTLA Principal Survey. http://www.utla.net/print/3016

        Here are more links to articles and info to read that might help prepare those interested in providing input on the selection of our next Principal.

        Education World surveyed 43 principals to learn what they consider essential traits of successful school leaders. Vision, trustworthiness and credibility, daily visibility, and a sense of humor were among the ten traits that topped the list!
        http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin190.shtml

        Here is a recent article on the Principals Role in Education a http://blog.parentella.com/2009/principal%E2%80%99s-role-education/

        Finally, here is the official position description for LAUSD’s Elementary Principal Classification: http://www.teachinla.com/research/class_descriptions_alpha.htm

    • angelica garza says

      The title is “Library Aide” and they get paid a pittance. Their union prohibits any non Libray Aides from doing the job, so parents cannot volunteer to do the work.

      Dissension is a form of fighting for change.

      Since you are asking questions, I am wondering which Janet you might be. The only Janet I can think of at this moment who volunteered a great deal was Janet Smith, but her kids left the school about three years ago or so. I apologize if I am forgetting working with you, as I am certain that I helped recruit most of the volunteers who helped on major activities for the last few years.

      If you get a chance, you might want to keep track of how often Sosie is actually at work. Her parking space is often empty; she is rarely seen on campus; numerous parents have had their messages ignored; projects are started and never finished…

  25. Fernando says

    Janet, which hunt do you speak of, the hunt for accountability, or the hunt for the $85,000, or the hunt for a meeting as mandated by the Board of Education and the law?

    Agenda at issue:
    Transparency
    Accountability
    Meaningful parent involvement.

    The letter that was distributed for signatures was immediately signed by 20 parents, several of which sought to sign without further discussion and some offered to help distribute it. Another 50 took it home to read, ask questions, talked to their partners and 32 returned it signed. Two of the original signatories have since asked to be removed from the list, and they were. 42 additional parents have added their names over the last months. That is about 70 individuals. I have spoken with several other people who fear reprisal and have opted to help in other ways, but chose not to sign. Why would all these people do this? I applaud their courage to ask…

    Their is a persistent and unwarranted notion that the PTA is the focus of this article or somehow PTA is involved in this letter. It is absolutely not true. PTA membership however does not require that your voice be muted or restricted to other school matters. In that vain the “70 parents” have reached out to the principal to discuss all of these things. No response. Some things are starting to move forward after intense pressure form LAUSD on the principal. But, should it take SOOOOOO MUCH effort to have a meeting that every other school with similar funds has had months ago? If you think so, that is your inalienable right, but 70+ others think otherwise.

    No one has ever even suggested that the money has been stolen. So stop it… But, did you know that we may not have a liberian next year? No orchestra? No Arts or Dance program? (VAPA) Even after the community raised $75,000 independent of the $85,000.

    It does not appear that anyone can speak for you, seriously no one has. And, label the questions for want of accountability, transparency and meaningful parent participation any why you wish, but don’t hate us for it.

  26. Janet says

    Lisa – I applaud your understanding and agree wholeheartedly!! This PTA group or particular group of parents are acting on behalf of an entire parent group with their 40 letters (some of which were signed in the same fashion as you spoke of earlier). I believe their are a few who were irked about something, LONG before this money was EVER mentioned and now they are on a witch hunt. Kralian will be there in September because she has FACT and RIGHT on her side. She IS NOT taking a vacation or putting a jacuzzi at the school, she is spending it on OUR childrens’ needs!! Maybe I am mistaken but I was under the impression the the PTA was here to, as the by-laws read:
    “To bring into closer relation the home and the school, so that parents and teachers may cooperate intelligently in the education of children and youth,” If THIS is the PTA’s way of bringing us together then I will be heading in the opposite direction.
    There are SOOOO MANY people who volunteer at that school and they are EXEMPLARY people!! I, for one, am NOT comfortable with people speaking for me. I, along with more than their 40 parents, believe this is nothing more than a personal agenda!

    • Gina Antestenis says

      Please stop harrassing the PTA. We do alot of nice things for our school. These young years of raising our children are special. Please do not scare off all the parents that are excited to see their children start school for the first time. The PTA is not the problem. The problem is some of our parents rightfully so have issues with our principal. Why is this such a shock? Why are people talking bad to each other? We do not have to agree, but we do have to raise our children together and to show them it is alright to agree to disagree. Come on people where’s the love.

  27. Fernando says

    Sonia S, your comment is the most regrettable to me in this discussion. My only fear with shedding light on difficulties at the school was that it would take center stage. Please understand, the school is wonderful. The Kinder teachers are the best in the business. Your child will have a wonderful experience, as my four have. And when they do, you might feel compelled to protect that for the community.

    It is interesting to note, removing the emotion, that even those who don’t like the article still agree that, “I don’t think it’s right a meeting be set to discuss funds “by invitation only”, and it’s “appalling”.

    The differences we seem to have now are how to seek truth and attain that which is ours. We certainly all agree, “At least have a meeting like this in a room where we can all participate in a debate important to over 500 parents…”. The rules for which have already been established by the State of Californian in the creation of School Site Council (SSC).

    We then need to have this not happen again.

  28. Nina Zippay says

    As one of the authors of the article I appreciate the passion of the comments posted and hope that everyone, not just a select few, will have an opportunity to speak and become informed about how we can collectively improve our school. One’s level of involement and contributions can take many forms by many people and should be appreciated. I am a firm believer in ensuring all have a voice and opportunity to participate.

    I’d like to clarify and correct the comments about the school ranking. For the last 3 years, when compared to similar schools, MWES ranked 8 or 9. It now ranks 6. How one interprets and attempts to understand how and why the school’s ranking has fallen should be discussed in a forum that is open to the public. There may be disagreement and different opinions but such diversity should be celebrated and embraced, not ignored or shoved under the proverbial rug because of fear of reprisal or conflicting opinions.

    Second, the Brown Act reads “the people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know.” California Government Code §54950. Operating in a vacuum of a secrecy in a small community such as Mt. Washington and trying to divide and conquer does not illustrate sound judgement by a public employee. It also appears to be a direct violation of LAUSD policy. I wouldn’t encourage my children to act in this manner and would not act in such a manner myself, so I don’t think it is appropriate or fair to all parents to allow public employees to behave in this way.

  29. Lisa H says

    @ Gina – my personal experience of the members has been nothing but positive, the fund raising work you do is amazing, it’s just this article and the agenda behind it that’s irked me.

    @ Sonia this is a great school, a 9 still makes it a top school and you’re privileged to live in an area where it’s an option.

    The children are amazing and talented and this is reflective of the incredible teachers you’re child will be inspired by.

    I love it here, I just didn’t love the article; I think I’ve made that much clear.

    A lively debate people but that’s what it’s all about. Thank you for hearing me.

  30. Sonia S says

    Interesting article. Here’s one more factor to take into consideration in my choice of schools for my soon-to-be-kindergartner. I’d like to be involved with my child’s school, but the environment at Mt. Washington appears poisonous. And Woe! they dropped from a 10 to a 9! Good grief, get some perspective people.

  31. LisaH says

    You deserve answers – you got one from Diekmann, you just don’t like it because it doesn’t include the firing of Sosie Kralian.

    With respect I did read the article and how dare anyone say my opinion is a matter of fiction simply because I don’t agree with the spin going on here. I simply don’t agree with the seperate agenda underlining these issues.

    Further to this a week before school closed I had a petition shoved into my hands, a petition that required reading and thinking about before one signed it, a petition PTA were expecting and ambushing parents to sign when they had little or no time to look over it, perhaps this is the reason only 40 people signed it. It’s shameful PTA should publicize something like this without reference to the opinion of the ENTIRE school body who don’t at all feel as you do about the leadership of the school and this bizarre conspiracy of emails and records, what the hell is going on in the PTA office, who has the time for all of this?

    The foundation of this article is that the funds are being discussed “by invitation only” isn’t that the issue? It suggests a meeting HAS been called, just some people haven’t been asked to attend and though it’s not an ideal situation, actually it’s appalling but I can see why it’s been reduced to this, especially with all this bickering about files and records and who said this and on what date and who said that. Cordial someone said? Passive aggressive is not Cordial.

    We have the 85,000, lets spend the money on our kids, on our school. This issue has become redundant now in that the funds are here, it’s also redundant to parents who deliberately don’t involve themselves because they’re simply not interested, nor do they have the time for this in-house fighting.

    The PTA do great works and it deeply saddens me this kind of time is being wasted not to mention the precious resources contributed by hard working parents campaigning for the firing of the Principal when there is so much work to be done elsewhere.

    • Gina Antestenis says

      Reading these comments made about the PTA is heartbreaking. The article has nothing to do with our Parent Teacher Assc. and the people who have positions on the board. I work really hard for our school and the PTA. The letter that is being talked about was organized by a parent not the PTA. Also the meeting your speaking of was in regards to our budget for the year. We needed it approved by the members. Everything else that happened in the meeting was just an added bonus of bickering. Please reconsider your feelings towards our PTA. We are there to try to make a difference in our children’s education.

    • angelica garza says

      Lisa,

      I take some offense with your characterization of a petition being “shoved in your face.” I was the person who showed you the petition and talked with you at length that morning. I took the time to listen to your concerns and attempted to answer your questions to the best of my ability. I told you that I understood how you might be taken aback by the information being presented and then later took the time to email you more information. I also urged you to attend the meeting in the Jack and Denny Smith Center so that you would better understand the situation.

      As a point of clarification, I feel compelled to point out that I would not have asked parents to sign a petition in the front of the school if I did not thoroughly believe in what it stated after having done extensive research myself.

      I believe that one thing all the signers share in common is a desire for truth, transparency, inclusion and accountability. That is it in a nutshell.

      I’ve been an active PTA member (over five years) who devoted far too many hours to the cause (pumpkin festival, auction, room rep recruitment and training, meetings, etc.) and I have always pushed for those same ideals within the PTA. I push for those ideals in my family.

      Perhaps you have not seen it directly, but sadly, Sosie has failed repeatedly to embrace those ideals. I have talked with her directly about how I feel and I truly hope that she is able to get through this crisis in a way that is productive for her. However, our school community need not suffer because she wasn’t ready to take on the job of running the school.

      Perhaps you have been lucky enough not to have had negative experiences with Sosie, but give it time and that might change. Several parents who put their faith in her for a few years are tired of waiting to see her rise to the occasion.

      The other reality is that many of the teachers are unhappy with Sosie as well. This is all based on actual experiences with her over the last three years.

      Some of us see the need for vast improvements as plain as day, others have genuinely not seen it. Still others have a hard time with questioning authority and lamentably, a few have taken Sosie’s side out of a need to maintain their permitted status at the school…

  32. Fernando says

    Dear Ms Lisa H, respectfully, I don’t think you have read the same article as everyone else, (published here). The understanding of the facts you have offered here is confusing to me, maybe because I need to share with you the information I have gathered. I am more than willing to make all of the information available. The letter from Ms. Diekman is part of the problem. Notice on the last paragraph for instance, “The Principal has full discretion over the account, but obviously we would expect some conversation amongst stakeholders at the school site.” Not true! Read the article it is supported by first hand knowledge, emails from LAUSD officials, including the Office of General Council. And, a Public Records search, my personal appeal to the Board of Education, Mr. Cortines, Ms Diekmann subsequent responses and the responses her boss offered.

    My understanding of the PTA meeting you are referring to is the one that the principal left the room after reading a prepared statement. But that meeting was in the MPR room which is much bigger than you suggest, I don’t ever recall a meeting when the principal was yelled at in a small room. I guess we all have a different point of view, but honestly despite the severity of these issues everyone has been generally cordial. I can’t speak for the parent that accused the principal of fraud. Sometimes people speak form the hart. Your comments, though fully not factually accurate here are nonetheless important to this discussion. It is part of our democratic process. Moreover, this article does not suggest fraud, in fact it attempts to dispel that notion and others. What is necessary for everyone to understand is that the proper process has been upset by less than transparent or open behavior, as mandated by State Law, the School Board, the Brown Act, and even a common understanding of what is right. Remember we trust our children to them and they need to be held accountable. To ask for the system to “answer to itself alone” is a recipe for fraud. So lets ask the HARD questions. We deserve the answers, not maybe, but deserve. We are owed the answers!

    I do take exception to your characterization of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) at Mt Washington ES. Your inference suggests that somehow it is an elite group of separatist parents further supports the reason why we may need leadership change, (new principal). We need a leader that builds, not divides. It is a pitiful thing that the PTA is 10% of the parent body. I do think however you over estimate that number, it is more like 5%. I am a PTA member only because I paid the $10. I am not on the board but will still help raise money, make coffee, make deals for free muffins, etc… I can’t always be “involved”, I have a job, but I have chosen to make myself available, it is exhausting work that sometimes runs late into the night . What is strange to me and, I find a shame that you require a room larger than your bathroom to help the school, however, I assure you that if you need a seat I will stand to give you one. I don’t know who offended you with their blatant “involvement”, but lets make the word “involvement” at Mt Washington ES one that does not need quotes.

    The high ground is hard to stand on when it is built on lies, terrorizing some might say.

  33. LisaH says

    I agree about getting together to discuss a shared objective but when someone says they don’t trust the principal of our school as a parent I want them to be specific.

    Saying things like “trust the Principal” goes back to my original point about making this issue of funding about her, it IS a LAUSD issue, they failed to include MW when it was allocating the Non Title 1 funds.

    Below is letter I recieved from a PTA committee matter from Diekmann in response to their petition regarding the Non Title I funding I think it states clearly what happened with regards the 85,000. Did everyone get this letter? I’m not sure. Here it is anyway.

    June 11, 2010

    Dear Ms. Buelna:

    Thank you for your correspondence regarding Mount Washington Elementary School.

    In or around April 2010 the Local Districts were informed that non-Title I schools would receive a one time allocation of $85,000. Mrs. Kralian heard about it from another Principal on April 19. When Ms. Kralian came for her budget meeting, we discussed that the money should be coming. A couple of weeks later a letter was sent to schools informing them that the money would be put into their account. A few weeks after that, Ms. Kralian asked me about the $85,000 because she hadn’t heard anything other than what I had told her. I went back to the original letter and attached list of schools. Mount Washington was not on the list of schools. The Budget Division had inadvertently left Mt. Washington off the list of non-Title I schools. I consulted our Fiscal Manager about it and pointed out the oversight.

    Last Wednesday at the Principals’ meeting I had a conversation with Ms. Kralian about the $85,000 and asked her how she was planning to spend it. She told me on Wednesday that she had not received an allocation letter for the $85,000. I told her I would speak with our Fiscal Manager. I called the Fiscal Manager Thursday morning and left a message regarding the lack of an allocation letter for Mt. Washington.

    Apparently, Ms. Buelna called Barbara Tobias in the Budget Division to inquire about the $85,000. Ms. Tobias indicated that all non-Title I schools would receive the $85,000. When Ms. Tobias called Ms. Kralian to discuss the funds, Ms. Kralian told her she had never received any notification about the money. Upon investigating the matter, Ms. Tobias realized that no funding had been given to Mt. Washington, no letter of notification of the money had been sent to Mt. Washington, and indeed the money was not in any Mt. Washington account.

    That oversight by the Budget Division is being rectified.

    The funds can be used for virtually anything, including materials. The Principal has full discretion over the account, but obviously we would expect some conversation amongst stakeholders at the school site. It is not a categorical fund, so was not a part of the budget process in May. None of my non-Title I schools have made the final decision about how to spend the money as far as I know.

    Thank you for your concern and I hope this has cleared up the misunderstanding a bit.

    Sincerely,

    Maureen S. Diekmann
    Director, School Services

    • Pilar Buelna says

      I don’t think this article is about whether the principal knew about the funds. It’s about, now that the funds are here, why hasn’t a meeting been called to talk about it with School Site Council, just like Mr. Cortines requested.

      However, since you’ve brought it up, following is an e-mail found in the Public Records dated April 9th and copied to the principal. This e-mail dispels the claim that that these funds were “a rumor,” as we were informed by the principal at a June 2 meeting.

      Further, Public Records include a document from LAUSD Budget Department indicating that $85,000 was put in The Mt. Washington account in early April. Public Records also indicate that the principal was at all the meetings mentioned by Mr. Cortines, where principals present were told by him about these funds.

      Did she know? You decide. And if she did, the bigger question then is,where does that leave us where trust is concerned?

      If anyone would like copies of these Public Records please e-mail your request to mtwashingtonvoices@yahoo.com

      From: Diekmann, Maureen

      Sent: Friday, April 09, 2010 5:14 PM

      To: Bryant-Nunley, Patricia

      Cc: Kralian, Sosie

      Subject: $85,000

      Hi Pat,

      Have we made any progress tracking down Mt. Washington’s $85,000?

      Maureen S. Diekmann

      Director, School Services

      Local District 4

      333 South Beaudry, 11th Floor

      Los Angeles, CA. 90017

      213.241.0132 Phone

      213.241.3389 Fax

      LAUSD Charge:

      “To fundamentally improve the interaction between the teacher and the student to create

      critical thinkers prepared to participate in a diverse and complex society.”

  34. Christine Moore says

    Thank you Nina and Fernando. It is parents like you that make and keep Mt. Washington great. Bad leadership can be changed.

    • LisaH says

      Nina and Fernando do a great job so do many of the parents not involved in PTA and this debate is about budgeting, fund allocation not the replacement of leadership and when you say leadership do you mean leadership of the LAUSD or MW’s Principal which is an issue for the LAUSD to decide and the request of ALL parents at MW not just the ones who occupy the PTA room next to her office.

      • Cecilia Ritenbom says

        I do think it is about time we all talk about what we all beleive needs to occur. This is not about LAUSD, this is about parents rights. We all know the principal doesn’t have the skills to run our school. Basically, here’s the question:

        What do you do when you don’t trust the principal?

        Just remember, as taxpayers, LAUSD is our system. They’re supposed to work for us, not the other way around.

  35. Cecilia Ritenbom says

    I think what is going on at Mt. Washington Elemenatary school is the problem with LAUSD. There are many parents at the school that do not want to complain because they are on permit and fear the principal. At this point, I know many families that want there children out of Mt. Washington because of the bad leadership. Why does LAUSD allow this to continue. Parents have no voice at LAUSD.

    Thank you Nina and Fernando for writing this. While we do not know each other, I appreciate your hard work.

    • LisaH says

      I was at a meeting where the funds were discussed and it was really hard to involve yourself in a debate that on one level was about “Where is our 85,000 bucks? and on another level “We want a new Principal” which I understand is the other agenda and people reading this article should understand that also.

      There are a lot of politics between the parents and the Principal and it’s like there’s no room for anything else or anyone else. The PTA never open the forum by at least offering a debate in a room where more than 40 parents can be included in the discussion. I understand the 85,000 dollars in question was not allocated to MW by mistake and a mistake LAUSD made, not Kralian, she was as much in the dark as anyone else regarding the whereabouts of these funds.

      I don’t think it’s right a meeting be set to discuss funds “by invitation only” but I was at a meeting where the Principal was actually accused of fraud by one ‘involved’ PTA parent. Many of the ‘involved’ PTA just don’t like her and I can see why she’s been terrorized into having an invitation only meeting with individuals interested in allocating the funds for the school and avoiding the parents who hijack the forum to yell at her and call her a thief. At the meeting I attended parents actually left because one parent kept screaming “I speak for all the parents here and we are actually worried about fraud” when she didn’t represent many of the parents and I certainly wasn’t concerned about fraud. The Principal was actually standing in a corner trying to explain to people who interrupted her and gave her zero room to explain anything and in a room that can barely fit 10 parents. At least have a meeting like this in a room where we can all participate in a debate important to over 500 parents not just the 40 who were ambushed a week before term with a letter articulating only half a story.

      With regards our school going to a 9 instead of a 10 and the parents moving on to other schools; there are lots of reasons for that. One in particular. There’s a depression going on and has been for the last 4 years. People are losing their homes and that’s why many leave the school. Children are living with the stresses of their homes being in foreclosure, their parents losing their jobs, even landlords are losing their rentals and leasing parents have been forced to leave the area because rent prices on MW are through the roof. Our kids are going through a lot, so are their parents. Obviously people also leave to cater to the needs of their individual children but not enough to make the statements this article asserts which has come direct from PTA and again talking about money which they admit was tied up in red tape and then not allocated to MW in error and then wording the article to attack the leadership of the school for the error when the real problem is LAUSD because like I say the ‘involved’ PTA want a new Principal.

      No environment is perfect and definitely there are many areas that can be improved in every LAUSD school. I haven’t been short of a few grumbles myself, as have many parents no doubt, but do you really think the ‘involved’PTA are in position to say publicly they represent us all because they don’t represent me and there’s a problem right there. I think the article is embarrasing and says more about the ‘involved’ PTA’s opinions which represent less than 10% of the entire school and we’d probably become ‘involved’ if we at the very least had somewhere to sit in a room smaller than my bathroom.

      If PTA want a proper debate with real answers at least have one where all the parents get a voice, an uninterrupted explaination from the Principal. Perhaps a real agenda and some minutes would be nice, I still haven’t received any from the last ‘debate’

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