District Deeds Sunday Reads – Sunday, November 27, 2022: Supplant not Supplement – The Ugly Story of San Diego Unified Title 1 Funding!!!

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As we mentioned last week in Sunday Reads, over the next few months San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) School Site Committees (SSC) should be analyzing how the approved school site 2022/2023 “Single Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA) is being deployed and also will be developing plans for the 2023/2024 SPSA.  Those new SPSA’s from each school will be integrated into the 2023/2024 SDUSD Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP).

Today in Sunday Reads we are reviewing even more LCAP and Stakeholder Uniform Complaints, this time from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). The article this week from LaList/KPCC describes an ongoing lawsuit effort by the Public Advocates organization to expose LCAP violations.

We have featured only portions of the featured article today in Sunday Reads with our synopsis and analysis.  We strongly urge our readers to click on the title and other links (in red) to read the full article for themselves.


Explaining The LCAP, The Document At The Heart Of A $1 Billion LAUSD Fight

By Kyle Stokes –  Published Sep 24, 2019 11:40 AM

The Los Angeles Unified School District receives more than $1 billion each year in state funds meant to directly help three vulnerable groups: low-income kids, English learners and foster youth.

But for the second time in four years, LAUSD has been hit with a formal complaint accusing school district officials of doing a sloppy job explaining how they’ve spent this $1 billion.

And that’s not all. The complaint — filed in July by the law firm Public Advocates — even raises the possibility that LAUSD misspent this money, potentially shortchanging programs meant to help those three vulnerable student groups in order to pay for across-the-board employee raises.

But this isn’t just a fight over bureaucratic compliance. This is a fight over whether California’s seven-year-old school funding system — celebrated as a progressive achievement and a national model — is working in the state’s largest school district.

Read The (New) Complaint Against LAUSD’s Local Control Accountability Plan (p. 5)

View the entire document with DocumentCloud

And…

But several academics who work with school districts statewide said LAUSD’s difficulty addressing Public Advocates’ persistent concerns also highlights weak points in California’s LCAP process. LAUSD may need to adapt — but they say the LCAP process may need to evolve, too.

In order to understand all of this — both the complaints LAUSD has faced and the broader questions about the LCAP process — let’s take a step back:

WHAT IS AN LCAP?

The Local Control Accountability Plan is a document outlining how the school district intends to use its state funding to help those vulnerable groups of students mentioned earlier: English learners, foster youth and low-income kids.

California funds schools on a per-student basis. Every student who fits into at least one of these “targeted” groups generates additional funding for their schools.

Districts have a lot of flexibility to use this extra money as they see fit, but with one major caveat: it must be spent on programs “principally directed” toward the English learners, foster youth and low-income kids who generated the money — that is to say, on targeted services for targeted students.

So what counts as “principally directed?” The language is purposefully vague. If you hire a counselor to help low-income high schoolers get into college, but that counselor also sees other students who aren’t in that targeted group, does that counselor’s salary qualify as a worthy use of the state’s extra funding?

This is where the LCAP comes in. Under state law, district officials use their LCAP to make the case that their spending plans actually serve the best interests of their most vulnerable students.

After the school board approves the LCAP, regulators in the County Office of Education then have to sign off; they’re the ones who decide whether the school district has done an adequate job of justifying its spending plans.

WHAT’S THE POINT OF AN LCAP?

This is how it’s been since 2013, when Gov. Jerry Brown and California lawmakers enacted the Local Control Funding Formula, or “LCFF” — a top-to-bottom reimagining of how the state funds its public schools.

“The real philosophy,” said Michelle Hall, a Chapman University researcher who did her doctoral dissertation on the origins of LCFF, “was that you give a block grant to the districts and they spend [the money] how they need to. If their student achievement goes up, they should be okay.”

But “there was a lack of trust,” Hall added, “that the districts would spend the money properly.”

Hence the LCAP. If the new school funding system would be a wider road for districts to swerve across as they pleased, the LCAP would be the guardrails.

But academics, advocates and policymakers say that’s just one of the purposes the LCAP was originally intended to serve:

  • The LCAP is supposed to force districts to justify their use of state funding.
  • The LCAP is supposed to compel districts to ask the community what it wants out of its schools.
  • The LCAP is supposed to help districts set goals for students’ academic performance.
  • The LCAP is supposed to help districts outline its strategy to improve.

Some even argue the LCAP is supposed to be a means of decoding a district’s budget. The LCAP shows how much targeted money a district is spending on a program — for example, hiring those extra high school counselors. The LCAP can then show what measurable outcomes a district hopes to achieve with that spending — such as “increased graduation rates” or “fewer dropouts.”

Here’s the issue, though, according to several academics studying the LCAP who spoke with KPCC/LAist:

“In trying to accomplish many of those things, the LCAP is not achieving any one of them well,” said Joel Knudson of the American Institutes of Research (AIR), who runs a policy collaborative with California school districts.

That said, a recent survey showed that local school officials find the LCAP useful in certain ways; for example, four out of five California superintendents thought the LCAP was helping their district spend in line with its goals.

And in Los Angeles Unified specifically, assessing whether the LCAP is “working” is a question as complex as the district itself — with little agreement among various stakeholders and academics about whether to pin shortcomings on the district, the LCAP itself, or both.

And…

Consider two of those original intentions the state’s framers had for the LCAP — and whether LAUSD’s LCAP lives up to them.

PURPOSE #1: ‘The LCAP is supposed to force districts to justify their use of state funding.’

This issue is core to Public Advocates’ argument against LAUSD.

In their July complaint, the law firm — which filed the complaint in the name of LAUSD parents Ana Carrion and Elvira Velasco — argued that school district officials hadn’t been specific enough about how they planned to spend $1 billion in extra state funding generated by English learners, low-income students and foster youth.

LAUSD is “failing to justify how the specific schoolwide actions are principally directed and effective for high-need pupils,” Public Advocates’ original complaint read, “and failing to assess the school-level actions for effectiveness after implementation.”

Among the issues: Public Advocates identified $340 million in expenditures with dollars generated by high-need students that, the firm said, LAUSD has never justified as helping high-need students.

In response to the complaint, LAUSD has drafted a series of changes to its LCAP.

But Ochi, the Public Advocates attorney, said that these amendments have revealed a new problem: part of that $340 million, she said in an interview, appears to be underwriting broad salary increases for teachers and other district staff.

The California Department of Education has sent the (somewhat muddled) message that using targeted funds for across-the-board salary increases can be okay — but the burden of proof is on the district to justify that the raises benefit high-need kids.

“I recognize the difficult position the district is in,” said Ochi, who’s an LAUSD parent herself. “But legally, [LAUSD officials] are also supposed to justify– to say how this is helping high-needs kids, and they didn’t do that. This expenditure is unlawful.”

LAUSD officials declined an interview — but the district does have its defenders, too, who have argued Public Advocates is essentially micromanaging LAUSD.

Public Advocates ultimately wants to ensure funds are allocated even more progressively to the highest-need schools. The district’s defenders, who include many involved parents, say that push is impractical when even the most “affluent” schools — by LAUSD standards — serve sizable populations of needy students.

“It’s kind of like the district can’t win,” said one such defender, Rachel Greene, in a 2017 interview with KPCC.

“I’m sympathetic to both sides,” said UCLA education professor Pedro Noguera, because it’s not always clear what types of approaches would work. For example, maybe English learners are best served by investing in salaries to pay for highly-skilled teachers to lead English learners’ core classes. But that money could also arguably be spent well by paying for tutoring services for English learners.

Between options like these, Noguera said, “There’s no clear agreement on what’s the best way to address the need.”

PURPOSE #2: ‘The LCAP is supposed to compel districts to ask the community what it wants out of its schools.’

State law requires districts to consult with a Parent Advisory Committee and with a committee of English learner parents and advisors before passing the LCAP.

LCFF’s framers hoped these consultations would lead to genuine back-and-forth, where parents, district officials and perhaps even students, teachers or community members could discuss their vision for the district.

To members of LAUSD’s Parent Advisory Committee, their meetings could feel a little less high-minded.

“We were more of a compliance item,” said Paul Robak, of Lomita, who has served three years on LAUSD’s Parent Advisory Committee. “We perceived what some people call ‘checkbox compliance.'”

One hurdle to getting parent engagement — the document itself is dense. Have a look at the four-page summary beginning on page 2; the summary that’s supposed to distill the full LCAP into a coherent “story.”

Page 6 of LAUSD LCAP Amendments – Sept. 24, 2019

Contributed to DocumentCloud by KPCC DocumentsofSouthern California Public Radio • View documentorread text

That’s a lot of small font — but consider yourself engaged, I guess?

Parents would submit feedback to the district’s LCAP proposal.

“I want to be optimistic and say it was going to make a change,” said fellow Parent Advisory Committee member Mayra Zamora. “But by the time [the parents’ comments were] was submitted, the LCAP document has already been created.”

Both Zamora and Robak said the district officials presenting and gathering parent feedback were helpful and would listen. But it also wasn’t clear to Robak whether they were in a position to make change.

“The bureaucracy they’re a part of,” Robak said, “there’s nobody who can look at the LCAP — short of the superintendent — and say ‘this is ineffective.'”

In her statement, LAUSD’s Haber said the district values the contributions of parents on the LCAP advisory committees, noting that the district recently relaxed its stringent volunteer requirements in response to their feedback.

“To the extent that PAC members feel constrained by committee procedures and rules,” the statement said, “Los Angeles Unified will work with the committee to address those concerns.”

Statewide, research suggests parent engagement efforts around the LCAP have been hit-or-miss. Julie Marsh, a professor at USC’s Rossier School of Education, conducted a study of district efforts to reach out to parents during the first year of the LCFF’s implementation.

Even today, Marsh said parent engagement around the LCAP “remains a struggle for a lot of districts, particularly districts that don’t have a lot of experience doing [parent engagement] work.”

But Ochi said there have been successes. After lodging a similar complaint against Long Beach Unified, she said that district has improved its LCAP process. Public Advocates also recently got involved in an activist push to stop the Pomona Unified School District from justifying expenditures on school police in its LCAP.

“The LCAP is working,” said John Affeldt, a managing attorney at Public Advocates, contrasting these success stories from other districts with what he characterized as the dysfunction in the LCAP process in Los Angeles.

“LAUSD is fumbling,” Affeldt added, “at how to keep itself solvent and follow the law at the same time.”

DISTRICT DEEDS SYNOPSIS AND ANALYSIS:

SDUSD Stakeholders have no organization like Public Advocates to rely on.  Most all of the supposed “community” groups actually promote the SDUSD corruption and dysfunction and are reliant on the SDUSD for access to millions of dollars in California Endowment funds and other local financial sources (i.e. Labor and Construction organizations) that get paid off through bond measures like Measure U.

The primary portion of the article above that describes the huge LCAP Funding loophole that the SDUSD drives through every single year is described by the following segment in the article:


Districts have a lot of flexibility to use this extra money as they see fit, but with one major caveat: it must be spent on programs “principally directed” toward the English learners, foster youth and low-income kids who generated the money — that is to say, on targeted services for targeted students.

So what counts as “principally directed?” The language is purposefully vague. If you hire a counselor to help low-income high schoolers get into college, but that counselor also sees other students who aren’t in that targeted group, does that counselor’s salary qualify as a worthy use of the state’s extra funding?


That Standard Operating Procedure of intrentionally being “vague” is critical to the SDUSD leadership corruption success.

The key word identifying these overt violations year after year by the SDUSD is a single word in the California Department of Education Code:  “supplant”:

Here is the definition of Supplant from the Federal Department of Education (DOE):


“To ensure that the Federal investment has a meaningful impact on the students the program is designed to serve, Title I, Part A includes a requirement that Title I, Part A funds supplement, and do not supplant, funds available from State and local sources for the education of students participating in Title I, Part A programs. Without this requirement, Federal dollars could simply be used to replace State and local dollars that would otherwise be made available.”


So, without an organization like Public Advocates, what can be done?

The vast majority of average SDUSD Stakeholders are “just Parents” and NOT an employee or a member of a paid off non-profit/labor/construction group used to monetizie the “vague” descriptions in the the LCAP and SPSA.  The “purposely vague” descriptions allow deals to be made behind closed doors with those favored groups by the corrupt SDUSD Board of Education.  The LCAP and SPSA documents produced from these unholy alliances magnify the effort to eliminate “parent engagement” and the corruption gets buried in what the article calls “one hurdle”:


“One hurdle to getting parent engagement — the document itself is dense. Have a look at the four-page summary beginning on page 2; the summary that’s supposed to distill the full LCAP into a coherent “story.”

That’s a lot of small font — but consider yourself engaged, I guess?

Parents would submit feedback to the district’s LCAP proposal.

“I want to be optimistic and say it was going to make a change,” said fellow Parent Advisory Committee member Mayra Zamora. “But by the time [the parents’ comments were] was submitted, the LCAP document has already been created.””


Here is the example used in the article for the LAUSD:

You can click on the object above and zoom with your browser tools to make it legible…but you get the point.

So we have defined “HOW” method used by corrupt SDUSD leadership to immorally and unethically supplant LCAP and SPSA funds for the neediest Students and direct those funds to its election endorsement cronies in non-profits, labor and construction. Here, as the corrupt SDUSD likes to say, is the WHY:

Enrollment and attendance is falling.

According to an article in EDSource that quotes the San Diego Union Tribune (SDUT) from 5 months ago extensively without the SDUT sycophantic SDUSD spin:


“Even before the pandemic, San Diego Unified’s enrollment had been steadily declining by about 1,000 students a year, or roughly 1%. Until 2015, that decline was largely chalked up to charter schools. Then, from 2015 to 2019, both San Diego Unified and the charters began to lose students, suggesting that families were leaving San Diego entirely, most likely due to a lack of affordable housing, school leaders said.

Next came the pandemic. In the fall of 2020, San Diego Unified lost 4,300 students, or about 4%, dipping below 100,000 for the first time in recent memory.”


According to the same SDUT article:


“Because it is relatively early in the state budgeting process, it’s unclear how much of a financial hit San Diego Unified will take due to lower enrollment and attendance. As of December, the district was projecting it would need to close a $71 million gap in its $1.6 billion budget in 2023.”


So this article from February, 2022, over 5 months ago, was already predicting a huge $71 MILLION budget shortfall “gap”.  Due to SDUSD avoidance of transparency, we have no idea how large that deficit has now become,

We also have no transparency, accountability or honesty on what the SDUSD done about it.

Did they tighten their belts?

Did they strive to become more efficient and effective to cut costs?

Did they cut the salaries of the overpaid, underqualified SDUSD Superintedent and Senior Leadership?

Yes, we are kidding.  Those are the LAST places that cuts wold be made by the dysfunctional SDUSD.

The SDUSD has shown no fiscal responsibility in the past 8+ years.  Why would they start now with such strong support from uninformed voters who approve anything with “education” in the title?  The only solution the corrupt SDUSD leadership knows is to contantly beg for more money to misspend though scams like Measure U backed by millions of political crony dollars.

Here is a perfect example.  In the face of the predicted deficit, check out what they want to do according to ABC 10 News San Diego:

“Whitehurst-Payne, the district’s board president says under the proposal, the district would offer a $10,000 hiring incentive for new special education teachers and school nursing positions.

“The incentive includes giving us two years of service and we’ll give them a $10,000 bonus for that, five each year,” she said.”

But wait….NOT just “NEW” SDEA Teachers…

“She said current teachers who have both a general education and a special education credential and transfer from general to special education from May to November 2022 will also receive the $10,000 bonus.

There are about 80 open positions in the special education department, according to SDUSD.”

A bonus of $10,000 for “80 open positions” for SDEA Teachers equals $800,000 added to a $71 MILLION budget deficit!

$800,000 that is a questionable REQUIREMENT responsibility of the State and District, definitely NOT a “SUPPLEMENT” from the Federal Government through Title 1.

With at least a $71 million deficit already, where is this political payoff money coming from?

THAT is just ONE $800,000 Question.  With this corrupt SDUSD there are many, many more MILLION DOLLAR QUESTIONS to be investigated and answered.

Hey Public Advocates, do you have a minute?

The 2023/2024 LCAP – “I am because we are corrupt”

Integrity nowhere to be found

UBUNTU…San Diego Unified style!


Now for our “quote of the week” dedicated to Native Americans  on Thanksgiving weekend:


“We call it a National Day of Mourning because when the Pilgrims and Columbus all landed over here, that was the end of our lives as we knew them – our land had been stolen. It was like my father’s speech stated: They opened our graves and they grabbed as much as they could take back.’’ – Moonanum James

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