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Friday, October 31, 2014

Lawsuit filed over Van De Kamps project *

Residents  have  filed a taxpayer lawsuit against the Los Angeles Community College district for leasing out space at the former Van de Kamp’s bakery property in Glassell Park instead of opening a satellite college.  Members of the Van de Kamps Coalition were angered last year when the college district said it could not afford to open a satellite campus on the property – which consists of the renovated bakery and new classrooms – as originally planned. Instead, the LACCD decided to lease the property to a charter school and other agencies.  Now, activists claim the switch constitutes a misuse of public funds and have asked the courts to invalidate the college trustees’  approval of the lease on the 13,900-square-foot complex.  An official with the coalition said the district has 30 day to respond to the lawsuit, which was filed July 26.

* Update: The LACCD’s response to the lawsuit:

Los Angeles City College has been offering  business development and community services classes this summer at the site, and will be offering  both college credit and non-credit classes at the site in the fall and spring.  The lessees of the additional space are using it to offer a child care center, high school and workforce placement and educational opportunities, all consistent with the mission of California community colleges.  The District will not comment on the litigation.

Related post:
A colorful sign of the past once again shines above Glassell Park. The Eastsider



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4 comments

  1. I don’t know the details of this, but as an LACC student I do know that the school has experienced some pretty severe budget cuts in the last few years. Even the Financial Aid office isn’t open 5 days a week anymore.

    It seems possible that they were on track to open the campus when they purchased the building and now don’t have the funding. Either way, I really hope no one is suing for money, because the school is barely scraping by as it is…

  2. I would like LACCD to show evidence that it has offered business development and community service classes this summer at the Van de Kamp project campus. Whenever I drive by, I see no cars or only a few cars in the parking lot.

  3. Van de Kamps Coalition

    Lauren- When the Van de Kamps business plan was developed, there was also a state budget crisis going on. To make sure that the opening of the Northeast Satellite Campus would not be a financial drain on main campus, the plan was to offer 80% profit oriented classes that are fee-based and recover money to cover the operating overhead costs of the satellite campus. Additionally, the profit-oriented classes were intended to cross-subsidize the cost of offering about 20% traditional for-credit community college classes. This plan never required state budget money!

    City College Academic Senate President at that time Gary Columbo was jealous of Mary Spangler and Dan Seymour, City College administrators who oversaw this plan. Columbo, and the Faculty Union President, Carl Friedlander, lobbied Chancellor Mark Drummond to require this plan be subjected to a rigorous economic feasibility study. Kosmont Partners were hired to do a comprehensive study and it found that Northeast LA was grossly underserved by City College and that the 80/20 Plan had overwhelming demand showing economic feasibility of the Northeast Campus was “a non-issue.”

    Within months, Spangler and Seymour were pushed out of City College — largely because those in charge of the District could not handle the talent of these former administrators. This petty jealously and opposition to LA City College having a Satellite Campus has been carried as a grudge by Columbo, Friedlander, and Drummond. In 2009, as the Northeast Campus neared completion, they made their move. LA City College faculty were told by Drummond’s henchmen, President Jamillah Moore and Academic Senate President Ken Sherwood, that the state budget crisis required LA City College to give the campus to the District. In this way, the District Administration grabbed the $72 million campus and proceeded to try to hand it off to a charter high school and unemployment programs. Contrary to the state educational plan and the LACCD’s mission, these programs are not consistent with the operations of a community college campus.

  4. To demonstrate how untruthful and deceptive the “official” position of LACCD is, one need only realize that the use of the campus by the charter high school and the workforce programs during most of the day means that the “classes” LACCD is going to offer will be tiny fraction of what could be offered if the campus had not been leased out to outside non-community college programs. This is a horrible broken promise to the young adults of the potential service area of this satellite campus.

    One just needs to think for a minute to realize that turning over a community college building to a high school is not consistent with “the mission of California community colleges” as claimed above by the District. Offering K-12 education is the purpose of public school districts in California. While there may be cooperative relationships between school districts like LAUSD or charters and the local community college district, conversion of half of a community college campus to high school use goes way beyond that. This is criminal.

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