The next Board meeting for BCCHS will be held on Saturday 7/18 at 9:00 AM in the Library at Birmingham. 17000 Haynes Street, Lake Balboa 91406.

To be a public speaker, please Contact Colleen Milar at or at 818 758-5206.  You are allowed 2 minutes


On July 1, 2009, The LAUSD School Board voted to approve the BCCHS Charter petition. Five members voted yes, one member abstained, and one member voted no. BCCHS will open as planned for the fall semester on August 19th, the first day of classes for students.

If you have any questions, administrative and office staff will be working through the summer in preparation for the August opening. Please call 818-758-5200.

On July 1, 2009, at 4:30pm, the LAUSD School Board is holding a special board meeting where they will hear speakers regarding BCCHS and will vote to approve or deny the charter petition. BCCHS HAS RECEIVED a recommendation from the Charter Schools Division of LAUSD and Superintendent Cortines. We expect the Board to approve our charter petition tomorrow. Everyone who is able is welcome to attend the meeting. It will be held in the Board Room of LAUSD Headquarters at 333 S. Beaudry Avenue, LA 90017. Parking is validated in the Visconti Apt Building on 2nd Street.

BCCHS will be presenting to the LAUSD School Board’s Committee on Charter Schools and Innovation on Thursday, June 18th at 1pm. We need as much community, parent, student, and teacher support as we can muster.  All community members are welcome to attend the board meeting and show support for BCCHS.  Once we are recommended by this committee, we will be scheduled to present to the full board.  We aim to be approved on Thursday and recommended for a meeting before the Board this coming Tuesday, 6/23.  If we do not make it onto the Board agenda for the 23rd, we will be on the agenda for June 30.

The open hearing is in the Board Room at LAUSD Headquarters. 333 S. Beaudry Avenue, LA, CA  90017.

Thursday, June 11, twenty members of the Charter leadership team including lead petitioners and the entire Charter Governing Board successfully passed the capacity interview at LAUSD.  Also, elements 1-4 of the charter petition have been officially approved by the LAUSD Charter Schools Division. This is the first of the final three steps to converting to a charter school. Thursday, June 18th, Birmingham Community Charter High School is scheduled to have an open hearing before the School Board’s Committee on Charters and Innovation.  Being recommended to the board by this committee is the second step to approval. We hope to be on the Board agenda for next Tuesday, 6/23 and receive Board approval to open as a Charter school on July 1. Receiving Board approval is the final step to becoming approved to open as a charter school.

BCCHS will undergo the first of the final steps to gain approval as a charter school this coming Thursday. The members of the Governing Board and the lead petitioners will go downtown Thursday for a capacity interview with the LAUSD Charter School’s Division. If we are deemed capable of running the charter school, we will go before the Curriculum and Innovation Committee of the School Board next week. If they recommend us for approval, we will present to the overall School Board the week after that. I’ll keep you posted about the outcome of this Thursday’s meeting.

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.

The following people should hear your concerns and should be able to give you answers to your questions.  History shows that the district responds to parents–more than to anyone else. If you have not received answers to your questions in a prompt, clear manner, I would suggest you contact the officials below with your concerns.

LAUSD Board Member Contact Information

District 1 – Marguerite LaMotte


District 2 – Monica Garcia (Board President)


District 3 – Tamar Galatzan (Our board member)


District 4 –Marlene Canter


District 5 – Yolie Flores Aguilar


District 6 – Julie Korenstein


District 7 – Richard Vladovic


Other Important Contact Information

Jean Brown, Superintendent, Local District 1, LAUSD, 818-654-3600,

Ramon Cortines, Superintendent, LAUSD, 213-241-7000,

Marsha Coates, Principal, Birmingham High School, 818-758-5203,

Marixa Pleitez, Magnet Coordinator, DPJCM 818-758-5291,

Janet Kiddoo, Administrator, DPJCM,, 818-654-3674 or 818-758-6531

Below are the questions parents asked at the Magnet Parent Meeting on 5/19. Answers are coming.

Questions From Magnet Parent Meeting 5/19

“What about sports? Are the kids still part of the high school athletic teams?”

“If a student isn’t doing well in one of the magnet classes, can he be switched to another class (same subject) at Birmingham [Community Charter] High School?”

“Why isn’t there more parents on the Charter School Board?”

“How can we fix this dilemma?”

“My daughter plays on the varsity basketball team. Is she gong to be allowed to continue playing on the school team?”

“Is the magnet program going to continue as it is right now?”

“[My daughter] wants to participate in track and field next season. Is she going to be allowed if she qualifies?”
”I was at the meeting in the oral arts [on Phbao night] and it was never agreed for the magnet to be a stand alone school. This was directed by Ramon Cortines to go forward with no parent input.”

“Answer questions! We’ve had several meetings without questions answered. So that’s why we’re upset. Don’t tell us we’ll answer it at yet another meeting. Whoever has answers should give them.”

“Will LAUSD pay the costs to the Birmingham Community Charter of students from the magnet to participate on Charter school teams and other extracurricular activities?”

“How will the Athletic department be affected in regards to the magnet program?”

“Will AP Classes be terminated in the magnet program?”

“Will football, softball, basketball, etc. be offered for the magnet? Will they play with Birmingham Charter or on their own?”

“Will there be enough room for passport classes so that each child will be able to attend if desired?”

“Will magnet students be able to participate in the charter school’s extra-curricular activities such as drama, music, etc. (also foreign language) OR will magnet offer these classes and programs?”

“The small stand alone school still belongs to the district…aren’t we still going to be lost in the machine?”

“Why weren’t the parents included in the vote to go charter?”

“So if my child is in the magnet now she will lose ability to be in any PVA classes, right?”

“We have not been given a choice—we are being told that we have to stay with the District. The magnet teachers made the choice.”

“Why doesn’t the magnet want to become a charter school?”
”What will happen with kids that are participating on sports teams?”

“Why have magnet teachers decided not to continue with the charter?”

“Why were magnet teachers discussing this with students in class, during instruction time, making it a contentious situation?”

“If the magnet becomes a ‘stand alone school’ where are the students going to take classes like health, life skills, PE, etc. and AP classes?”

“If magnet teachers were allowed to vote for charter or no charter, why were only magnet teachers allowed to vote for ‘stand alone’ status?”

“Why should we want to go along with the charter if our kids are doing great in the magnet?”

“How are sports going to be addressed if your child is in the magnet program?”
”I want a letter sent to each parent of the magnet and offer them a vote as to if the magnet goes charter or not.”

“Please don’t paraphrase the questions—just read them.”

“What model in LAUSD has an LAUSD school on a charter campus?”

“How can parents vote to have the magnet be in the charter?”

“Would a vote of 50% of a quorum be sufficient?”
”What was the teacher vote in the magnet against charter?”



MAY 19, 2009

The meeting was called to order at 7:40 pm by Lindsey Surendranath.  Mrs. Surendranath gave a history of the charter school movement at Birmingham High School and a timeline of the submission process that BHS went through.  Magnet teachers decided they did not support the charter movement and voted to become a stand alone school.  Ramon Cortines, LAUSD Superintendent, agreed this could be done and Janet Kiddoo was named interim administrator.  Mrs. Surendranath described what a small, stand alone, school means.

Lance Johnson, BHS parent, described his support for the charter movement.  He believes that parents have not gotten the information they need, but parents need to be unified.

Jean Brown, District 1 Superintendent, reported that LAUSD is not opposed to charters.  A letter will be mailed home to parents with plans for another informational meeting next week, exact date to be determined.

Pualani Ober, Magnet parent, introduced herself and acted as moderator for questions and answers.

Questions were taken from the audience.

  • A parent asked how could the decision already have been made without parent input.  Jean Brown said that there was a meeting in Oral Arts and there will be another one.
  • A parent asked what will athletics look like.  Jean Brown answered that Mr. Cortines has assured her that the Magnet will be able to participate as a stand alone school in all BHS Charter programs.  The magnet will have a full curriculum and courses can be added as required.  The Magnet will continue to operate as a stand alone, 500 student Magnet, co-existing with BHS charter school.
  • A parent questioned whether all programs will be in place in September in light of recent budget cuts.  Jean Brown assured that Mr. Cortines is supporting small school change.
  • A parent asked if students will be able to take advantage of BHS programs such as Performing Arts, Yearbook, Leadership, etc.  Ms. Brown answered that these issues are negotiated through MOUs.
  • A parent said her student has 3 AP classes now and asked if  this could be guaranteed.  Janet Kiddoo said this is one of the issues she is looking into and will have more information at the parent meeting next week.
  1. Ms. Brown reported on studies that show achievement rises when students attend a small school.
  • A parent stated that she feels that no one is thinking about the students.  Teachers and administrators are thinking about salary/benefits issues.
  • Coach David Lertzman said it hurts him to see no one advocating for students.  He feels all coaches at BHS want Magnet students on their teams.  However, there is no model for this.  The BHS Charter has a maximum of 3,200 students.  If it reaches that number, there will not be room for magnet students.
  • Jean Brown said that there will be space on BHS campus for Magnet students.  This District is committed to this.
  • Lindsey Surendranath said that the intent is for the two schools to co-exist.  The goal at this meeting is to explain what has gone on so far and what decisions have been made.
  • Francisco Gonzalez, teacher at BHS, said that teachers do care about the students and the Magnet broke from the charter just for that reason.
  • A parent requested to have the parents vote also, since the Magnet was originally in the Charter.
  • A student said that he comes from LA on the bus to play sports at BHS.  He asked how will the Magnet be different from any school in LA close to his home.  He also feels that teachers have been arguing like children.  Ms. Brown said the Magnet will continue with the same curriculum.
  • Kim Martin, parent, asked how will the stand alone school affect her daughter if it already has been decided.  Why have a meeting next week?  Will parents have a vote now?

The meeting was adjourned at 9:40 pm.

Judy Reed