By Becky Koppenhaver
Echo Park parents and community members have fought hard to make sure their choice to win control of a new elementary school will be selected by the school board. The approximately 40 members of the Echo Park Moms and Dads Group for Education was on the winning side of a community advisory vote last month but co founder Micky Curtis knows better than to sit back, relax and hope for the best. In fact, on Tuesday, Curtis and other group members (pictured) showed up at the school district headquarters to lobby officials ahead of a final decision about who will run the new Echo Park school.
L.A. Unified Supt. Ramon Cortines will in the next few days recommend to the school board one of two groups seeking to operate Central Region Elementary School #14, now under construction near Alvarado Street and Sunset Boulevard. The school board will be announce the winner on March 15.
The Echo Park Mom and Dad’s group is backing a team called Local District 4 / Echo Park Community Partners that is competing with Camino Nuevo Charter Academy to manage the $68.7 million campus. The Echo Park Moms and Dads are counting on Cortines to be heavily influence by last month’s community advisory vote in which the Local District 4 entity emerged victorious, capturing 561 votes to Camino Nuevo’s 242 votes. The vote, however, was non-binding and leave Cortines and the board free to select the losing group.
Shannon Corbett, a district administrator and one of the leaders of the Local District 4 team, said those who voted in favor of Local District 4 are smart in keeping up the fight until the decision is announced. There have been times that the superintendent has chosen to ignore an advisory vote, she said
“We don’t know for sure what the other things are that he takes into consideration when making a decision,” said Corbett. “But hopefully he will take into account the very strong parent support Local District 4 has.”
Curtis, with the moms and dads group, said she is aware that a few of the Los Angeles school board members are pro-charter and have close ties with Camino Nuevo Charter Academy. But she said her side is hopeful that the board will follow the community’s vote. On Tuesday, she and co-founder, parent Windy O’Malley and other members of the group hand delivered petitions with 650 signatures in support of Local District 4 to the executive assistants of all of the members of the school board.
In addition they spent over two hours talking to the assistants in hopes they would pass the message to board members. Curtis and O’Malley had planned to speak in front of the board on Tuesday but were informed it was in a closed meeting, open only to those who had come to talk about charter schools. O’Malley was discouraged that they didn’t get to speak in front of the board as they had planned.
“There were so many people there to be heard,” Curtis said, referring to the crowd waiting to be let into the school board meeting. “Everyone wanted to have a voice. Nonetheless, “It’s really important for us to be heard too.”
Becky Koppenhaver is a freelance writer covering schools. You can send Becky story tips and ideas at [email protected]
Photo: Windy O’Malley. Micki Curtis and Gabriella Waterman deliver a petition to Nancy Gonzalez, assistant to board member Yoli Flores. Photo by Matt Eddy.