VOICES-The tragic death of a mother and the severe injury of a student today underscore complaints that have been made for years by parents, teachers and principals at doubled up campuses throughout Los Angeles.
As LAUSD moves to deregulate schools and flings open the doors to sell off parts of its campuses to schools accountable for little more than test scores, hundreds of unplanned car trips per day descend upon each peaceful neighborhood. Makeshift entrances and adhoc drop-offs ignore the originally designed ingress and egress of carefully planned facilities. Dozens of children at each co-located campus risk their lives dashing across streets. Double and triple-parked cars and stopped traffic are reported at nearly every co-location in the city.
Now a young girl has lost her mother and has been severely injured herself.
The course that LAUSD is pursuing, viewing schools as business franchises, has led to thoughtless co-locations. Prop 39, which requires districts to provide facilities to charter school students, does not require the district to ignore public safety--or common sense. And the school district is creating more special schools to co-locate at neighborhood schools every year. Yet, the countless complaints about the doubling up have been rejected with district claims that public streets are not their purview. The City, in turn, claims that it can't control the second largest school district in the country.
Today's incident puts both the school district and the City on notice that co-locations can gravely impact public safety in ways that cannot be ignored. The school district needs to stop thrusting an entirely new school onto an existing school and telling everyone to figure out the details for themselves. The impacts of these co-locations cannot be simply absorbed by over-taxed facilities and neighborhoods.
The solution is to require proposed co-locations to go through an approval process where their traffic and pedestrian safety plans face scrutiny similar to newly constructed schools. Then, if the school district and the City want to keep pointing fingers at each other, somebody will help them settle the argument--before another family suffers a tragedy like today.
(Karen Wolfe is a public school parent and member of the Venice Neighborhood Council Education Committee.)
Vol 12 Issue 13
Pub: Feb 14, 2014