The Daniel Pearl Magnet (DPJCM) held an informational meeting for magnet parents and students on Wednesday, June 3 at 7:30pm in the MPR at Birmingham High. Speakers and attendees included most of the magnet faculty, Jean Brown –Superintendent of District 1, Janet Kiddoo – Interim Administrator for DPJCM, Sharon Curry – Superintendent of the Office of Integration (magnet programs for the district), Sarah Lasnover and Dr. Ginger Cole – Office of Integration, Marsha Coates – Principal of BHS.
At the meeting, parents asked a number of pertinent questions about what will happen in the coming weeks/months for their students and the two schools—the charter and the magnet. The responses to their questions will be paraphrased below with my added commentary to expand on their answers. **NOTE – I will be updating the questions and answers over the next few days—there were a lot of them, please be patient!
Q1. Will my child be able to participate in athletics, marching band, music, sports teams, clubs and activities with the charter if he/she remains in the magnet?
Jean Brown Answer: The magnet surveyed magnet students last week to identify the most important activities they want to see in the stand alone school. The magnet will use that information to create its own activities, clubs, etc. There will be a PE teacher in the magnet for magnet students to take PE. As for athletics, Superintendent Cortines will make the approval of the charter petition contingent upon all magnet students having access to ALL activities, sports, extracurricular opportunities in the charter school.
My comments: The superintendent does not have the legal authority to require the charter to agree to this, thus risking liability and reducing the autonomy of the charter. He cannot guarantee access to all charter activities for magnet students. There will be two separate schools with two different behavior policies, rules, operational procedures, budgets, schedules, calendars, etc. To ask that magnet students remain involved in the charter activities is to go completely against the philosophy of a small school which is to create the activities and opportunities that align with the vision of the small school. In short, if parents want their students to have a guarantee that they will have access to the entire program offerings at Birmingham, they should enroll in the charter school. If parents want their children to have access to the opportunities in the magnet as a stand alone, they should remain in the magnet and not make a choice that depends on their child having access to charter activities.
Q2. Will there be food and nutrition and lunch for students in the magnet, and will it be the same as with the charter—i.e. shared space, same time, same place?
Yes, magnet students will have food and nutrition and lunch provided just like the charter does. We don’t know yet if it will be in the same space, same time and same place.
My comments: The charter school completed a proposition 39 application that is a legal and binding document entitling first year charter schools to “full exclusive access to facilities”. There are a number of liability issues if the magnet students and charter students co-mingle during the school day. They will essentially be two separate school districts. If students co-mingle, who will be responsible for any behavioral misconduct on behalf of either party? Who will insure the students and the property for misconduct? In these economically challenging times, I am very uncertain that the district will foot the bill to pay liability insurance to the charter for the magnet students who would be in shared space legally allocated to the charter school. My guess is that, like High Tech High which is entirely self-contained, the magnet would have to bring in food carts and offer nutrition and lunch in their allocated space and facilities (which will probably be the 300s area where the magnet is currently housed).
Q3. – Are you telling incoming 9th grade students and their families what’s going on at Birmingham right now?
Jean Brown: we believe they will have different questions, so we’ll be having a separate meeting for those families in the coming weeks.
Q4. – Will AP classes be offered on campus, online or will students have to travel to other schools like Pierce or Valley College to take them?
Kathy Rattay: AP Classes will be offered in the magnet. For certain AP classes that are under-enrolled, we will try to have them offered online. We are also talking with the president of Pierce college to get faculty from colleges to come to the magnet to teach college-level courses.
Q5. Will the magnet be on the same calendar as the charter?
Jean Brown: No. If the charter is approved, it will open in August. The magnet will remain on the traditional school calendar that it operates on now as an LAUSD school.
Q6. What about senior activities? Prom? Yearbook? Grad night?
We’re exploring options for the magnet to provide those activities.
My comments: It doesn’t make sense for magnet students to participate in commemorating the year of the charter school and listing all the pictures and experiences of charter school students. Probably, the magnet will have and publish its own year book.
Q7. What options do we have if we decide to pull out of the magnet?
Sharon Curry and Jean Brown: If you decide to pull out of the magnet and apply to the charter school, we will facilitate that process. You can also apply to another magnet school as a “walk in” because there are magnets who have open seats after the wait list and late list have been exhausted. If you are interested in getting a list of magnets with open seats, you should contact the LAUSD Office of Integration at 213-241-6572.