Echo Park group is not taking any chances on who will run new elementary school

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 becky@theEastsiderLA.com

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.


  1. Unfortunately, we can not rely on LAUSD to listen to the community even though we won the advisory vote. As evidenced in the past, the majority has voted for another plan and LAUSD ended up rewarding the school to the charter, even though the whole voting process was set up to be democratic so the community, who knows best, would have a say in their neighborhood schools. I would like to make it clear that the Echo Park Moms (and Dads) For Education do not collectively have a stance on charters. In this case of CRES #14 we all agree that the Community School Plan best fits our neighborhood with its dynamic focus on project-based learning and incorporating the arts and environmental science. As there are already 5 Camino Nuevo campuses in a 2 mile radius, no other school like this exists in the area. The proven school model fits our population. The LD4 Plan will serve ALL of the students in the attendance boundary with a board comprised of parents, teachers, and community members making decisions rather than “advisory” to corporates who do not know what is best for our beloved Echo Park.
    We only can hope that LAUSD will listen to our need. We have been spreading the word, petitioning, attending meetings, organizing, lobbying, throwing information parties, all on top of our busy schedules of parenting and work. It keeps us going to spread the word to other parents who had no idea what was going on with the school that we are pointing at and informing them about the whole PSC process. Unanimously, our neighbors all agree that the best way to reach our children is through the arts with all the innovative methods the Community School has to offer.
    It is not too late to help! Please e-mail me if you would like to see this wonderful school educate our future leaders.

  2. I’m ashamed to admit it but I’m so glad I don’t have any school age kids in my home anymore. I was a parent advocate for years. The torch has been passed. Good luck to the Echo Park Parents Group. It’s time a NEW CREW of Echo Parkians with a “DIFFERENT VIEW” became advocate’s in OUR ECHO PARK COMMUNITY. I’m so SICK OF THE SAME OLD FACES AT MEETINGS IF I SEE ANY OF YOU, i’LL SCREAM. ONE OF THE REASONS I DECIEDED TO TAKE A TIME OUT FROM COMMUNITY ACTIVISM. The death of my father really took it out of me. HE GAVE ME SOME GOOD ADVICE. Por que lidras con pendejo’s dehalos solos que tenes mejor cosas que acer. My dad spoke Spanlish. But he said this to me very clearly in english. oh, just so U know he was born in Colorado not Mexico. I know how some of you think, shamey, shamey, jejeje…On another note IT was I and a handful of local parents who lobbied for a Middle school in Echo Park for year’s. So unfortunate that my kids are now 33 and 37, never to enjoy a new school. The grandkids are no longer my problem, my job is to love em and spoil em.. Hard to believe it took over 20 years to get new schools for our then POOR LATINO COMMUNITY, they all got the BOOT due to the gentification, BUENAS NOCHES.

  3. Forgot to mention that since 1993 we the Echo Park Youth Empowerment has lobbied for the arts. We had a full on hands on art school in my home. ALL FREE, we where not a non-profit we where just people who cared about our kids. It irks me how these strangers and there “non-profits” have invaded our community and pimped our children using the “ARTS” as the hook to get em in the door to get paid. Fibromyalgia a painful chonic pain condition has me. Hope to have some type of program for 8-12 year olds this summer in our back yard, like we used to. God willing…………

  4. I don’t have a horse in this race, but could someone explain to me why parents would want a focus on environmental science instead of just science? A few decades ago when I was in school, environmental science was the joke science class that football players and people that couldn’t hack the “hard sciences” science classes took. Is it the aversion to math that people that favor the arts seem to have or maybe the fashionability of anything “green”? Just curious. Before anyone tries to call me anti-art or anything, I went to Otis College of Art and Design and still have two years of calculus under my belt.

  5. @ Skr
    I don’t have a horse in this race either, but I would imagine that it’s because ES is an applied science, rather than a series of abstract concepts like physics. As someone who struggled terribly with math and science throughout every level of school (and remembers none of what I learned), AND has worked with children who suffer from learning disabilities, I fully support this approach.

    Also, ES isn’t just some liberal leftist thing, it’s been around for a while. I would imagine it to encompass biology, geology, meterology, etc., botony

  6. I thought applied science was engineering and choc full of math. Biology, geology, etc are all just sciences.

  7. It’s unconscionable that the LAUSD Board might turn the new, taxpayer funded, multimillion school complex that displaced many homes over to an unaccountable, privately run charter corporation. Sadly Yolie and Co. did just that in our neighborhood last year, when they handed a portion of Gratts ES over to the Para Los Niños corporate charter despite the community advisory vote being in favor of the public school plan by 93%. Many parents with children in special education programs needed to change schools since Para Los Niños doesn’t have an adequate special education program.

    In the end the PSC process has nothing to do with choice. Instead of a process that pits parents, community members, and overworked teachers against well funded charter corporations with professional staff tasked with increasing market share, we should replace PSC with a process that keeps all the schools public schools that are more locally controlled with parental and community decision making. Privatization friendly Luis Sanchez supports corporate choice and control, all the other candidates support the community. LAUSD District 5 voters, please vote accordingly and let the board know you support the community plan!


    When I run against Mónica Garcia (District 2) in 18 months, please remember my views on these issues.

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