Special education lawsuit against Compton Unified reaches U.S. Supreme Court

imageA suit brought against the Compton Unified School District has reached the U.S. Supreme Court and, on Monday, the Obama administration.

The U.S. Supreme Court reached out to the U.S. solicitor general’s office for its views on a negligence claim brought against Compton Unified.

The suit was brought on the basis that the school district failed to identify a high school student’s disabilities, which the plaintiff argued violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

According to Education Week, during the student’s 10th grade year, teachers became concerned about the nature of her school work. She was referred to a mental health counselor, who recommended an evaluation for learning disabilities. The district failed to heed this recommendation and promoted the student to 11th grade.

Only when mother of the student argued for an individualized education program for her daughter did Compton Unified determine the student was eligible for special education programs.

The mother filed an administrative claim under IDEA, arguing the district failed under the law’s “child find” requirement to adequately and promptly identify the learning disorder.

The administrative judge found in favor of the plaintiff.

Compton Unified appealed its case, arguing that if the family won, students would be able to file “educational malpractice” suits against school districts. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sided once again with the plaintiff.

The appealed case, Compton Unified School District v. Addison, remains in the high court. The request for an opinion from the solicitor general’s office is expected to take months.

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

INFOGRAPHIC: Mayor talks education reform, budget during State of the City address

Education reform was the focus of Mayor Villaraigosa’s sixth State of the City address Wednesday.

Located at Jefferson High School in South Los Angeles, Villaraigosa encouraged lawmakers, educators and residents to take a stand in improving Los Angeles’s schools.

That education focus is clearly seen in the infographic below, a look at the most commonly used words in Villaraigosa’s speech.


West Adams artists open up homes during architectural tour

The West Adams Heritage Association (WAHA) hosted its second annual ‘Art in Historic Places’ tour Saturday.

Attendees toured 8 historic homes in the West Adams neighborhood. Each home was owned by a local artist, and his or her work was displayed throughout the house.

The ‘Art in Historic Places’ tour is one of four events hosted by WAHA throughout the year, each in an attempt to bring new visitors to the historic neighborhood and to raise money for the association’s preservation advocacy efforts.

“There are more landmarks in West Adams than the rest of the city,” said John Patterson, the president of WAHA.

In the late 1800s, the West Adams neighborhood became a destination for Downtown Los Angeles’ professionals. The “first suburb” of Los Angeles, West Adams grew exponentially with the installation of the streetcar.

But after Downtown Los Angeles’ heyday ended during the 1920s, several of the West Adams homes fell into disrepair.

imageIn 1983, WAHA was founded as a neighborhood association. Noticing that the majority of people moving into the area had an interest in historic homes, WAHA morphed into a preservation advocacy group.

“The sense of community here is really, really strong,” Patterson said.

Patterson moved to West Adams from the Hollywood Hills because he wanted to own a historic home. Previously unaware of the area, he said he marveled at the magnificent homes when he first visited West Adams.

With WAHA, Patterson works to encourage more people to move into the area and provide guidance on how to renovate and preserve its hundreds of homes.

Sometimes referred to as the “preservation police,” WAHA has been at odds with developers in the past. It lobbies for the landmark status of homes based on their architect.

“Preservation is the ‘greenest’ building you can do,” said Patterson.

During the mid-2000s, West Adams saw a steady influx of residents. Among them were substantial Korean and Mexican immigrant populations, said Patterson. He noted that WAHA has experienced language barrier issues.

In attempt to reach out to community members, WAHA is hosting a class in Pico Union this summer to teach youth how to renovate houses. The hope is that the youth involved will work to restore homes to their former glory instead of tagging them with graffiti.

“We want to encourage people to do good work,” said Patterson.

More information about WAHA can be found on its website.

Stephanie Guzman contributed to this story.

Housing and Tenant Services in South LA

imageLos Angeles Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc.
Los Angeles Neighborhood Housing Services believes that strong neighborhoods can be achieved through quality affordable housing options.  It offers financial education workshops to workshops in an attempt to curb foreclosures and provide financial independence for low-income families.  Los Angeles Neighborhood Services also lobbies for the development and maintenance of affordable housing in communities of need.

imageFair Housing Foundation
Founded in 1964, the Fair Housing Foundation seeks to end discrimination in housing and to provide equal access to housing options to everyone regardless of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender, age, socioeconomic group and any other characteristic protected by law.  It also provides services in dealing with tenant/landlord issues.  The Fair Housing Foundation serves South Los Angeles, Compton, Lynwood, Huntington Park, Bell and their surrounding communities.

imageBroadway South Neighborhood Revitalization Project
Broadway South is a collaborative effort by Beyond Shelter and the Beyond Shelter Housing Development Corporation to provide an affordable housing complexes in South Los Angeles.  The program not only offers Section 8 housing but also seeks to address the socioeconomic needs of its residents.  It currently has housing complexes on 74th and Main, 79th and Broadway and 51st and Broadway.

imageHousing Rights Center
The Housing Rights Center provides housing services to residents throughout Los Angeles County.  It combines legal action with educational services to end housing discrimination.  Telephone and in-person counseling for both tenants and landlords is available.

imageLos Angeles Community Action Network: L.A. Right to Housing Collective
The Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN) engages in community and public policy activism in the South Los Angeles and Skid Row communities.  It’s Right to Housing Collective advocates for tenants’ rights at City Hall.  Among the Right to Housing Collective’s latest action was a protest outside of Councilmember Wesson’s office demanding changes to the city’s rent-control laws.   

Hogan-Rowles advocates a run-off election

imageWhile incumbent Bernard Parks celebrated his supposed victory early Wednesday morning, opponent Forescee Hogan-Rowles said emphatically, “It’s not over.”

Parks garnered 50.89 percent of the vote to Hogan-Rowles’s 43.99 percent. But with 1,800 to 3,000 ballots yet to be counted in Los Angeles City Council District 8, Hogan-Rowles still believes in the possibility of a run-off election.

“While the results of the election are inconclusive as of tonight, I’m proud that we’ve got Bernard Parks on the ropes,” said Hogan-Rowles in a statement Wednesday. “And he’s desperately swinging and missing.

“Given the trends we saw as the results came in tonight, we are in a position to force a runoff.”

Parks’ press secretary Dennis Gleason told Neon Tommy that while the Parks respects Hogan-Rowles’ desire to see all the votes counted, the results of the election will most likely stay the same.

“Based on our number-crunching last night, she would have to get somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 percent of the remaining ballots,” Gleason said.

Hogan-Rowles expects the final ballot count will come out late Wednesday.

Stay tuned for updates on Intersections South LA.

Intersections South LA was at election parties across South Los Angeles as the drama unfolded Tuesday night. Watch our slideshows and videos from the events:

Hogan-Rowles supporters remain hopeful

Bernard Parks celebrates election in Leimert Park

Herb Wesson takes early lead in District 10 election

Marguerite LaMotte takes steady lead in school board election

Marguerite LaMotte takes steady lead in school board election

Los Angeles Board of Education candidate Marguerite LaMotte is from New Orleans, and as one of her supporters said, the fact that her reelection to the Los Angeles Board of Education fell on Mardi Gras was just “twice the reason to party.”

And party she did, Louisiana-style.

Watch an audio slideshow from LaMotte’s campaign party:

Afterschool Programs in South LA

imageThe Children’s Collective, Inc.
The Children’s Collective, Inc. provides comprehensive educational and support services to 4,000 South Los Angeles students.  Founded in 1972, its 18 locations feature programs ranging from childcare to afterschool tutoring.  Fees for services are dependant on family income, and most families participate in the programs free of charge.

imageThe First Tee of South Los Angeles
The First Tee of South Los Angeles uses the game of golf to teach life skills.  It offers the First Tee Life Experience course, which emphasizes the need to maintain a positive attitude in the face of adversity.  The cost of the 8-week session is $50 for the first member of a household, $25 for the second member and free for any additional members.  The fee covers training, equipment, a uniform and any field trips or outings.

imageLA’s Best
LA’s Best was established in 1988 by Mayor Tom Bradley to address the lack of afterschool programs in Los Angeles.  It serves 28,000 elementary school kids at the schools with the lowest tests scores in the city.  Activities range from tutoring to arts and crafts and physical education games.

imageHeart of Los Angeles (HOLA)
Based out of the LaFayette Park Recreation Center, the Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) afterschool program introduces youth to a wide array of programs in academics, the arts and recreation.  By partnering with the Los Angeles City Recreation and Parks Department, HOLA boasts access to a state-of-the-art turf soccer field and outdoor basketball courts.  It has also partnered with the LA Philharmonic to provide a youth orchestra program.  All activities and programs are free of charge.

Independent spending hits record high in Board of Education race

More than $928,000 in independent expenditures has been spent to fill four seats on the Los Angeles Board of Education.

As the March election draws nearer, the teachers’ union and the Coalition for School Reform are stepping up the independent spending to ensure their candidates are victorious.

Read the full story on KCET’s Under the Influence blog.

Related Stories:

OPINION: The School Board Election: What L.A Unified doesn’t want you to know

Inglewood Unified principal takes hands-on approach to education

Celebrate Valentine’s Day in South L.A.

imageValentine’s Day is a day of love, of long-stemmed roses and, unfortunately, of over-priced restaurants and fixed menus.

Reclaim the romance with these V-Day date ideas, all conveniently located in or around South Los Angeles.

Wining and Dining at Bacaro LA

This cozy wine bar is nestled into the block of storefronts on South Union Avenue, just south of the 10 Freeway. Intimate and understated, the restaurant seats a mere 40 diners. But what it lacks in space, it makes up in cuisine. Bacaro LA boasts an fairly extensive list of “small plate” entrees (at $7 each), ranging from cauliflower doused in a chipotle aioli to a signature burger and a selection of grilled pizzas. The wine list features bottles from Italy, France and, of course, California. On Mondays, all glasses of wine are half off. But Valentines Day daters beware, Bacaro LA fills up quickly and waits can exceed an hour. It’s best to go early and enjoy the happy hour specials (all small plates are reduced to $5).

‘Sweet Old Song[s]’ of Love

The Craft and Folk Art Museum is celebrating the day of love by screening a film about love and art. Sweet Old Song centers on the intertwined tales of artists Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong and Barbara Ward. Filmmaker Leah Mahan explores the two-decade love affair between Armstrong and Ward and the effect that love had on their work. The film “plays like one of the ballads that flow effortlessly from the funny and irrepressible Armstrong,” according to Folk Art Everywhere’s website. The Craft and Folk Art Museum (located at 5814 Wilshire Boulevard) is offering light refreshments and music beginning at 6:30 p.m. followed by the free screening at 7 p.m.

Bright City Lights

The Museum of Neon Art (MONA) takes lovers on a romantic bus ride around Los Angeles for some quality neon sign-gazing. MONA’s annual Sweetheart Neon Cruise takes riders throughout Downtown L.A., Chinatown and Hollywood on a double-decker bus, giving them a glimpse of some of the best neon signs and marquees the city has to offer. Included in the $65 per person price are glasses of champagne and chocolates. The Sweetheart Neon Cruise leaves MONA at 8 p.m. and returns at 11 p.m. Reserve seats at www.neonmona.org.

A Walk in the Park

Exposition Park is the home of some of the best museums in Los Angeles. Make a Valentine’s Day of it and take a stroll through the California Science Center, the Natural History Museum or the California African American Museum. The environmentally-inclined should consider visiting the new Ecosystems exhibit at the California Science Center or seeing “Under the Sea” at the museum’s IMAX theater. Admission to all exhibits is free. Unfortunately, the most romantic spot in Exposition Park, the historic rose garden, is closed for pruning until March 15.

More stories about Valentine’s Day:

Protestors give Herb Wesson a hand-delivered Valentine

What do you look for in a Valentine?

Deputy Superintendent Deasy responds to recent school violence

Below is a copy of a letter sent out to parents of L.A. Unified students regarding bringing weapons to school: