As a former staff writer for the Daily Breeze and the San Diego Union-Tribune newspapers -- and a contributor to the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Diana Chapman has covered the issues peoplefind important. In this blog, she focuses on the community programs and resources that benefit children and teens. Also visit her blog: http://www.secretlifeinmybackyard.blogspot.com. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org @
Ugly Allegations, Los Angeles Unified School District Board President Richard
Vladovic Still Hangs In There And It's A
Good Thing As The Board Appears To Move Away From Only Trumpeting Test Scores
By Diana L.
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy
called to ask what I had to say about Los Angeles School Board President
Richard Vladovic and the recent allegations that he yells at people, has been
accused of sexual harassment and is overall a big bully, according to a report
released from the district and other sources.
It took me
two seconds to assess this having volunteered for the district for years: "I have met few people who care more
about students than this man," I told the reporter.
everyone says that," the reporter said, sounding deeply bored by my
thoughts -- which in fact were very unexciting and did not appear in the
All of these
allegations leaves me with much food for
thought, more than anything, about the timing of these implications and the more than strained
relationship between Vladovic and Los Angeles School Superintendent John Deasy.
Last week, LAUSD released a report filled with allegations that Vladovic allegedly
sexually harassed an employee more than a decade ago and had berated two employees and further
retaliated with snubs more recently. Vladovic was cleared in an investigation that he improperly
handled molestation allegations against a teacher at George De La Torre Jr.
Elementary Schoolin Wilmington.
Vladovic, 68, has spent more than half his life in education
mostly in Los Angeles Unified from starting out as a middle school teacher, to managing
gifted programs district wide to holding principalships at three inner city
high schools.He retired as a senior administrator,
but later rose as a board member in 2007 to head up the southern region of the district, which
has scores of Harbor area and south Los Angeles campuses. He admitted publicly
in a released statement that he had lost his temper and would seek professional
guidance to help him control it. He also denied having sexually
harassed or overly abusing anyone.
"I violated the
district's civility police along with the board's policy, and for that I'm truly
sorry," he said in the statement."I also apologize to any employee who has felt intimidated because of my actions. In my capacity to serve the district I admit to having crossed the line and I intend to never do so again."
I am happy
Vladovic clearly admitted that he needed counseling and took ownership of his
actions. The trouble I am having is why are these allegations flying out wildly
now? Why now is an employeereporting sexual abuse more than a decade later? It
seems that will be difficult to prove at this late date. It's also gives
methe read between the lines feeling.
The crux of
it might be this: It's no secret that Los Angeles Superintendent John Deasy and
Vladovic have been at odds for a while
now, especially after Vladovic realized what a mistake he had made initially
joining former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in heading up many
actions in the school district, including allowing the mayor totake over some schools. Two years ago, Deasy came
in riding the same ticket siding with the mayor about the takeover. Most of the
board, was on board, including Vladovic until things began to crumble. The
mayor took over several schools, but had no more success than LAUSD had handlingthem and Deasy and his support staff were so
focused on raising test scores in the flailing district that they forgot about
one thing -- looking at the whole student.
me greatly as I see much more in the kids I work with beyond their test scores.
I see intelligence. I see creativity. I see students who need guidance to
determine how to define and refine their attributes for their futures. The
whole test score thing shoved that and all the poor performing students
intoa muddy bucket, making them feel
stupid and worthless when they do poorly-- even for some good students.
fifty reasons why I hate it (the California Standardized Test)," wrote
student Cicely Arana, a 13-year-old middle school student. "I hate it, but
I'm only telling you five. One, I hate
how many questions we have. Two, the teachers and staff put pressure on you, making
you stressed and making you do badly.Three, it's not even fair how they determine if you are smart or not by
your scores. If they didn't make such a big deal of it, we would do better.
Four, I hate how right after the CST, we have more school and more quizzes and
tests. Five, we have to come home to: 'How did the test go honey?' Then all you
do, is fake a smile and nod."
reign, elementary teachers were reporting that the fix at poorer performing schools was
so intense on testing that they were told to drop the sciences and not to do any
art until the last 20 minutes of the day. They had to stick strictly to math and
English. While there are probably countless reasons for this inner-district
battle, I knew sticking strictly to testing would further unhinge the already stilted relationship between the
board president and the superintendent.
with Vladovic, and having talked with his fiercest critics, I still was able to
see one thing: Vladovic wanted to return to look at the whole picture of the
child and not just the limiting view of
tests, which is like taking one facet of a diamond to determine its worth. The
board president joined that testing movement at the time due to the intense
amount of sharp criticism that the second largest district in the nation was a complete flop,
with a dropout rate nearing 50 percent. With test scores continually on the rise, the
board appears ready to move on to bring back the polish and spit of some
important principlesthat were dropped such
as returning fine art to the classroom.
Deasy and Vladovic are two giants sparring
over philosophy and the right ways to teach kids. It appears only one will
survive, which happens often when two personalities are too large for the town.
My bet is on Vladovic. The reason: Deasy threatened to quit if Vladovic was
named board president in December.
Despite the threat, the board unanimously
voted Vladovic into the seat. Bosses typically don't like threats. Rumblings of
the accusations began to hit before that. After the vote that brought Vladovic
into the presidency in July, Deasy didn't leave his post. He stayed.
that he has anything to do with the allegations against Vladovic. Still
criticism seems to brimming over for the Deasy. The United Teachers Los Angeles gave Deasy an
F grade as superintendent. I can't help but agree.
Vladovic is getting beaten up for his temper, Deasy isn't actually a keep
-it-in-control-kind-of-guy either. He berated a substitute -- in front of the
students -- for having them copy instructions off the board, a request from
their teacher, an issue reported by Los Angeles Times columnist Sandy Banks.He told the sub it was a waste of time. But
as far as I know substitutes are supposed to follow the teacher's instructions.
In reality, she wasn't doing anything wrong. It should have been a debate between
him and the regular instructor.
I am so ready for Los Angeles Unified to move on.Deputy Superintendent Jamie Aquino announced
his departure after calling the board members micro-managers and said they
threatened the academic progress of the district's students. He also accused
the board of mistrusting the top school officials, according to many news
accounts, and plans to depart at the end of December.
"The current political climate
does not allow me to lead an agenda that is in the best interests of the
kids," Aquino said in news accounts.
The truth is that really depends on
how you look at it.