Given the vastness of the LAUSD bureaucracy, there is no guarantee that the members of the School Board knew that Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) had been cited for making unauthorized modifications to their District owned campus that threatened student and staff safety. Therefore, I used my three minutes of public comment at the LAUSD November 14, meeting to make the board members aware of this situation:
As I understand the rules set by the previous iteration of this Board, parents at charter schools are supposed to be notified when a Notice of Violation is issued to a school. Earlier this year a Notice of Violation was issued to Granada Hills Charter High School, but as a parent, it was never sent to me. I only found it through doing an unrelated Public Records Act request through the school. Instead, it was buried within an electronic newsletter with a link to the letter that I am passing out.
What that letter did not state was that this was a Notice of Violation which included the warning that there was “a risk to the health and safety of your students, staff, and other individuals.” Nor did it say that the school was accused of violating the law by “failing to obtain necessary review and approval of the plans for the identified alterations from the Division of State Architect (DSA).”
It also stated: “immediately stop all use of the facilities identified in Exhibit A…for the health and safety of students staff and other individuals”. Included on that list was a “Lunch Shelter Area that is structurally unstable. It is an immediate safety hazard and must be fenced off until removed or constructed to the District’s standards and applicable laws.” It further warned that the “Lunch Shelter Area that is structurally unstable” and is in danger of a “partial [or] total collapse.
According to a source within the District, “everything that was red-tagged is still red-tagged and will remain off-limits until the plans are approved by the District, then go through DSA, and the work gets done, inspected, and accepted.” However, during a recent visit to the school for a choir concert for my daughter, the lunch area that appears to be the one referenced by the notice was not fenced off and was being used. The last page of the packet has pictures of that area and it is clearly still in use.
The school did remove some sheet metal that they had added to the roof of the structure which was causing extra weight. However, the notice had stated that “the existing beams are sagging and deformed due to the extra load. This area should not be used by students and barricaded immediately until safety measures are completed.” It also said that “the columns are no longer plumb, and the whole structure appears to be shifting.”
This is clearly a danger. The District informed the school that no one should be using that area. Yet, it appears to be still in use. I’d like to know who is protecting the students?
You should also note that Granada is a conversion charter. That is District property. If something happens after this notice, it is the District who is on the hook. You are going to be responsible not only monetarily but morally for what happens to those children.
You need to look into this.
As of Friday, the Lunch Shelter was still being used by the students of GHCHS. This seems to provide further proof that the Board is less interested in putting “Kids First” than it is in serving its benefactors at the California Charter School Association.
Carl Petersen is a parent and special education advocate, elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD’s District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a “strong supporter of public schools.” His past blogs can be found at www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com.