Charter school operator to take control of new Echo Park campus

The Los Angeles school board today selected Camino Nuevo Charter Academy to run a new Echo Park campus, rejecting the advice of the school district superintendent and a community advisory vote that favored a different management team.

The board voted against a team of school district administrators called Local District 4 / Echo Park Community Partners that was supported by the teachers’ union and a group of residents called Echo Park Moms and Dads Group for Education, which had members camp out overnight to be present at today’s board meeting.  Last week, L.A. Unified Supt. Ramon Cortines recommended that Local District 4 operate the new $67.4 million campus called Central Region Elementary School #14.  But when it came time to vote today on who would run numerous  district campuses, the school board decided to follow most of Cortines’ recommendations, with the Echo Park school being one of the few exceptions.

The school, located southwest of Alvarado Street and Sunset Boulevard, will be open to students grades K-8. Camino Nuevo, which operates three other charter schools, has proposed a bilingual instruction program in English and Spanish for the Echo Park school.

The board voted four to three in favor of Camino Nuevo. Members Monica Garcia, Marguerite LaMotte and Steve Zimmer voted in favor of Local District Four.  Board member Yolie Flores, whose district includes the new Echo Park school, voted in favor of Camino Nuevo.

School board also selected operators to run a dozen other new and existing schools, including new Eastside high schools in East Los Angeles and Glassell Park. Click here to see the board’s selections.

Related items:

  • LAUSD trustees pick Camino Nuevo to run Echo Park’s new middle school. Patch
  • Charter schools win out in latest round of reform effort. Daily News


  1. any chance you could let us know who voted for and against so we know which corrupt SOB we need to get rid of?

  2. @dwiff Gladly:
    Yolie Flores (already leaving- please vote for Bennet Keyser in the run-off in May against Luiz Sanchez)
    Nury Martinez
    Richard Vladovic
    Monica Garcia
    and our lovely mayor, the “other” school board member

  3. such a disappointment

  4. @Echo Park voter
    Corruption this blatant can not be tolerated.

  5. can someone explain what LD4s mission/curriculum/mgmt style was, and why they should have been selected? I don’t have kids but am curious about the debate and have heard mixed things about camino nuevo. thank you. ..

  6. God I hate the LAUSD board. I’m not personally affected by this, but it is so screwed up. Just seems so corrupt.

  7. wait: did Monica Garcia vote for Camino Nuevo or the LD4/LAUSD group? I’m seeing her listed as voting for both, depending on who’s writing

  8. Camino Nuevo was selected because it operates superior schools. The school board members know what’s what. And furthermore, Camino Nuevo is much more of a community school than LAUSD schools. It’s level of parent involvement and community partnerships can’t be matched by any LAUSD school. The school board’s choice of Camino Nuevo is a win for the kids — a refreshing change.

  9. Today’s vote was a repudiation of the community in favor of the corporate.

    CRES #14 will be another privatized charter school run by an unelected board of CNCA directors comprised of wealthy bankers, counseling out the most needy students and completely obtuse to the Echo Park Community.

  10. @ e Monica Garcia voted for Camino Nuevo
    @ curious The LD4 Plan was written by teachers and was to be even more developed with the help of active parents who want to be involved. Parental involvement is key to success for education and we already have a growing group of parents who wanted to be involved. It has a curriculum that focuses on the arts, environmental science, and project based learning. It has connections with LA philharmonic, Tree People, LA Grand. It would serve ALL students in the attendance boundary. Special needs children are not “counceled” out. It has a dual- language program with a choice to participate and a choice in language. Echo Park has Spanish speakers, English speakers, Tagalog speakers and more. Camino Nuvevo offers a mandatory bi-lingual program aimed at English Learners with NO CHOICE. I was told several times if I did not wish to send my child there because I did not choose a bi-lingual program (even though I want her to learn Spanish) that I have a choice to send her some place else! As English is much harder language, I choose to focus on English first and Spanish second for my daughter. This is a $68 million publicly funded school with an attendance boundary and I live and work one block away. My neighbors all choose LD4 plan. It needs to serve all students. The school would also be diplomatic, with parents, teachers and community members making decisions instead of corporates who do not even reside here. The decisions will affect not only the school and students, but the community at large.
    Ld4 won the advisory vote by a landslide. The superindendent recommended our school because he recognized the community wanted it, and its great plan involving the arts that we are lacking. There are already 5 Camino Nuevo campuses in a two mile radius already if someone chooses to go there. We have no public school with the arts. In fact, as of yesterday, there are no art teachers anymore since they were all just laid off. Echo Park is full of art, artists, and history and such a curriculum will best teach our students in a way that is not just drumming info into their heads for higher test scores.
    We had been trying to meet with the board members to no avail to talk about this. Not one would meet with us so we started a petition. We proved that the immediate community surrounding the school chooses the Community Plan. We camped out from 7:45pm the night before the meeting just to be heard for two minutes yesterday. If we were only 20 minutes later, we would not have had a chance at all, as Families That Can -a well-oiled national charter group, had planned on taking up ALL 13 speaker slots. They wanted to monopolize the the little time we have to speak to the board. So Windy and I, just two parents who live a couple blocks away from the school site, wanting to be heard at the meeting, set up camp at LAUSD. Although everyone was very friendly, I do not think this is fair. It is sheer madness that we had to do this just to be heard. And no one else even got a chance for any of the other schools that were being voted on yesterday. Unfortunately the decision was already made (our mayor made sure of it).
    Money and politics played a big hand in the decision yesterday. The process is entitled Public School Choice- No Child Left Behind. I think they need a new name. I have a few but will refrain here.

  11. What a shame when the voice of the community is ignored. Cortines recommendation really didn’t count since he is a lame duck now but the community was ignored!!!! Well now we can see the plans of the LAUSD it is slowing washing its hands of schools and giving them away to charters all in the name of change!

  12. I was there and I’m pretty sure Garcia voted “no” on Flores amendment and Galatzan voted “yes.” I say that because I remember being Really Surprised that Garcia voted “no.” And, the only reason she voted that way, I’m sure, is because she knew that the vote was going towards Camino Nuevo. She was the last vote and Camino had already won it. Also, Cortines recommended that they do away with the advisory vote. So, as public education becomes gradually privatized, or in this round, pretty quickly, where will there be an opportunity for the community’s voice to be heard because good luck getting to speak with your local district board member.

  13. Camino Nuevo, which operates three other charter schools, has proposed a bilingual instruction program in English and Spanish for the Echo Park school.

    That’s what it’s all about, right there.

  14. The Echo Park Community Partners plan also proposed a dual language program that is a better model. CN’s bilingual program is transitional, which means that English Learners start classes in Spanish only. As they become more proficient in English, eventually they lose their reading and writing skills in Spanish. What the EPCP offered was a Dual Language Immersion program, which means that students who participate become academically proficient in BOTH Spanish and English. THroughout this process, Camino Nuevo has been perpetuating the idea that the Echo Park Community Partners would not serve English Learners when in fact it will serve them better.

  15. This is a dark, DARK day.

    Skeels nailed it the “vote was a repudiation of the community in favor of the corporate.”

    The “public contract” lies in tattered shreds. From the sloppily-written “parent trigger” law to this insult to public education, the tide of school privatization is rising, being orchestrated by corporate groups, charter school “professional organizations” and their “astro-turf” groups – usually well-meaning parents who have drunk the kool-aid.

    Granted, there are VERY REAL problems that exist in many schools around Los Angeles. The plan developed by the Echo Park group was a sound proposal that went a LONG way toward addressing the needs of the community. The LAUSD board, however, chose to reward their corporate sponsors. Outrageous.

    This should NOT be accepted graciously. If ever there was a time for civil disobedience to protest this affront to the will of the public, this is it.

    I’m too old and un-plugged to know how to orchestrate such a thing. Perhaps someone out there (younger & smarter) can start the ball rolling. Because it certainly needs to roll…

  16. What a travesty. What an absolute shame. It’s truly appalling to see the school board totally reject the opinion of the community that’s actually supposed to be served by the school.

  17. Why is the program called “Public School Choice” when the public’s choice was not selected? What a sham.

  18. I have not been following this debate very closely but I am very curious as to why the School Board and Yolie Flores Aguilar, in particular, would have chosen Camino Nuevo over the recommendations of the community? I read all the posts above and I understand that many believe that it is about “corporate” and “private” company taking over a public school, and also some belief that the School Board as a whole is corrupt. Fine. I do not want to debate about that.

    I just want to know why Flores Aguilar was persuaded that Camino Nuevo would be better than the other option. Was it merely an issue of not supporting a proposal supported by the teacher’s union? I understand that she is not a friend of the teacher’s union, but I doubt that the politics were that simple. I know that she is leaving the School Board for a job with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, that is a good thing in my book. The Gates Foundation is one of the largest proponents of charter schools in the country, but also one of the few real champions for reform in public schools and open to unorthodox ideas for public schools. I say all of that to point out that (unlike others on the School Board), Yolie is not a mindless, thoughtless lap dog for special interests, she actually thinks about how to reform public education a lot more than most. So what was her reasoning here?
    Just curious.

  19. Anybody who’s actually looked at the data knows that charter schools are not a silver bullet in that they perform no better than public schools with similar resources.

    If that is the case (and it is) then the question must be “WHY?”

    I’d suggest that to find that answer, as the saying goes, “follow the money.”

  20. @ Cristi: Camino Nuevo has a good track record for the board. They get results and that’s what they want, especially Flores. They also serve a population that, historically, has been marginalized and disenfranchised, which is also appealing. Flores said herself that she was impatient and need results ASAP and for her, Camino Nuevo was a sure way to get the kind of results she wanted. That being said, what is frustrating is that Steve Zimmer and Cortines stated, with a lot of agreement from other members, that the EPCP was the kind of plan that they, the board, have been asking for and that they were excited about. They even went further and said, now we need to find a location for this school. Guess what?! There is a location and it’s called CRES#14!!!! The EPCP is a great plan and it serves as a model for the future of public education. By choosing Camino Nuevo, they chose Not to have confidence in what public education could be. They chose Not to listen to the community or the superintendent, who had done all the research for them. They chose Not to authorize a school where parents would participate in the decision making body of the school. They chose a school that is funded by our tax dollars but is privately run.

  21. @Kim — Thanks for the summary. I’m a fan of Steve Zimmer, so I am not surprised that he supported the EPCP. Is there a possibility that they could be implemented in any other school nearby?

  22. shocked + disappointed

  23. @Cristi – That’s a difficult question. I definitely want to see this plan in Echo Park. I don’t want to see more people lose their homes to build a new campus. If the district decides to put this plan into another school, it should be a school that wants it.

  24. I apologize for my mistake as I was awake the night before camping out for my chance to be heard. Tamar Galatzan voted for CN and not Monica Garcia. However Monica Garcia, along with the entire board, with the only exception of Margueritte Lamotte, voted at the very end of the meeting for the approval of all the amendments.
    We need to remember that Ms Garcia’s assistant, Luis Sanchez is in the run off election and most likely the reason for casting this “safe” vote. Vote for Kayser!

  25. All:

    If you are an enraged as I am about this affront to the will of the public, perhaps you’ll be interested in this. I suggest that our only avenue to realize a righting of this wrong is to turn the scrutiny of the press upon this issue.

    As others and I have said before, particularly egregious and offensive is Yolie-Aguilar’s action of ignoring the wishes of her constituents while delivering a victory for the ideology of her new boss, the Gates Foundation. As another poster said, “Why is the program called ‘Public School Choice’ when the public’s choice was not selected?”

    At this point I think the best we can hope for is to rip the lid off the process and expose it for the sham that it is. As they say, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

    I would encourage EVERYONE that’s outraged by this to participate in a media blitz by deluging ALL of the education reporters in the area until someone is willing to listen and start poking around. If someone is willing to coordinate such an effort, that would be nifty. But everyone can help spread the word. Send the reporters and email and then copy this post and send it on. If they get enough prodding, they will smell a story and start poking around. Maybe, eventually, someone will listen.

    swilson@laweekly.com (Simone Wilson)
    newstips@kpcc.org (Adolfo Guzman-Lopez)

  26. LA times: “(Coritines) had favored a local group of teachers and residents because, he said, the charter’s emphasis on teaching in Spanish in the early grades was not the right fit for all the students who would be attending that school.” The way the media and Camino Nuevo continue to frame this debate is misleading. Keep in mind that Tuesday’s decision was made NOT because CAmino Nuevo serves English LEarners. In fact, the Echo Park Community Partners plan would serve English Learners better. This was the district’s favoring a professional charter OVER a pilot public school that they requested and acknowledged that they had received with the EPCP plan.

  27. I agree with Micki: Vote for Bennett Kayser.

  28. I posted this elsewhere, but this messageboard is more active:

    I love my neighborhood, and I’m not sure I fully understand the disappointment with having Camino Nuevo come in to support our community’s education goals. All the facts I’ve explored seem to support that this decision is the best one for our nieghborhood. Some charter schools don’t address the needs of the communities where they teach. But Camino Nuevo isn’t one of these. Their student-selection process is through random lottery rather than through cherry-picking only the best–which would wrongly skew performance. They’ve been very successful at their other four LA campuses at significantly improving their students’ competency and college-readiness. They hire the best teachers and demand the highest standards. Parents are highly engaged partners in those neighborhoods as we can be sure they will be in our neighborhood. They’re student-selection process is through random lottery rather than through cherry-picking only the best–which would wrongly skew performance. There is no additional financial costs to the parents or the community in bringing Campino Nuevo in. And the students end up performing well-above nearly every other LAUSD school and have a much more vibrant learning experience.

    I think the decision is great! I’m certain that parents and community members will come to a similar conclusion after digging into the facts a little more and after experiencing the school in the neighborhood. I hope that heads can cool and that this outrage by some can be tempered by the acknoledgement of these facts. And I hope my neighbors join me in welcoming them into our neighborhood. I think all the evidence bears this forth.

  29. @ Justin
    Just to make it clear, since CRES #14 is under PSC, no matter who won the school, it has an attendance boundary. You are correct that most charters use the lottery system. That means who ever attends the charter has chosen it, applied, and won through the lottery. But this process allows charters to take over public schools and if you reside in the attendance area and do not choose the curriculum you have to find another school. That is why it does not really make sense for a charter, with a specific curriculum to take over a public school.
    Camino Nuevo has a mandatory bi-lingual program at all of their charters schools whose goal is aimed at Spanish Speakers to learn English. As their other schools are located in an area with 97% upwards English Learners, this makes sense. This type of curriculum does not serve English or Tagalog speakers. Although it has been stated that 60% of the students who will attend this site will be EL and this is still the majority, it does not consider the other 40%. So this is what is meant by not serving the whole community. The LD4 plan has a dual-language program with a choice in language and participation.
    It focuses on the arts, project-based learning, environmental science, and multi-age classes. Since Camino Nuevo won this publicly funded school with an attendance boundary, they need to serve all the students who will attend. People had to move out of their houses for LAUSD to gain the property by eminent domain.
    Look at what LAUSD is doing. This whole process has caused a divide in our community. If the adults are arguing, we are setting a terrible example for our kids. It is about time we unite and work together so we can all get along and gain from our different views and backgrounds. We have a brand new, state of the art school, with new text books, fresh teachers, fresh students and parents. Let’s look at this as an opportunity to grow and learn together and from one another. Do it for ourselves, do it for the children.

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