As I warned might happen in the previous post, the rug is now pulled out from under us. We sat in the principal’s office on Thursday and received “clarification” from Ms. Lagrossa, District 6 Superintendent, by way of telephone, that the district wanted to see a plan for ONE Huntington Park High School and that a proposal for semi-autonomous academies under an umbrella governance structure was appropriate. We also thought we were able to create a freshman house through some manipulation of the rules. We took a deep breath, a sigh of relief, for a day or so and then word came of the sabotage in the middle of the day on the 19th. My cell phone buzzed continually as the word spread like a tsunami.
Our principal received a directive from District Six to secure substitute coverage for several coordinators to come together at D6 headquarters in order to write proposals to divide the campus into pilot schools. This was to be done on the same day, the 29th, as the rest of us were scheduled to come to UTLA Headquarters to write what we thought was our ONE school proposal of semi-autonomous academies under an umbrella structure.
Betrayed and undercut once again, dozens of us fumed and debated whether this course of divisive action was entirely the result of edicts from a particular board member or whether some of these previously out-of-class coordinators were responsible for District Six’s directives. It is a fact that many of these coordinators were special favorites of the previous principal and were promised administrative jobs in their own pilot schools if they supported the former principal in his moves to materialize the desires of a particular board member. Several of these coordinators have been out of the classroom for years. As it frequently happens, these out of classroom people are out of touch and have often been the first to express the common themes of blame-the-teacher propaganda.
Quick action was required, and we took it. Our UTLA Steering committee conducted a straw poll at the close of the school day. We tallied the results of a ballot distributed in the office as teachers checked out. The ballots included the name and employee number of the voting teacher (so there could be no accusation of fraud) who would then check a circle to be counted as either preferring the pilot governance model or the model of one comprehensive high school with semi-autonomous academies. One comprehensive high school was the overwhelming choice of the faculty.
Eighty-six faculty members from A and B tracks were polled at the close of the day. Fourteen of these faculty members did not write their names or employee numbers, while 72 did do this. Out of the 72 ballots with names and employee numbers, 66 of them favored the comprehensive high school. Six of them favored the separate pilots. The ones without names still favored the comprehensive high school but those 14 were divided with 8 in favor of one school and 6 favoring pilots. One ballot expressed a desire for a hybrid model. Six clerical employees also chose to submit straw poll ballots. These employees unanimously favored the comprehensive high school.
This poll flies in the face of any wannabe administrator trying to claim that UTLA was disenfranchising its faculty by presenting the arrangement that was worked out in the principal’s office on Thursday. It strongly implies a conspiracy to thwart the wishes of the faculty. I also believe that the surrounding community does not want to see the high school turned into a hodgepodge of pilots with duplicated expensive administrators and clerical services. The saga continues…….