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LAUSD task force to boost parental involvement

January 24, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
The Los Angeles Unified School District and members of a special taskforce are working to boost parental participation and responsibilities within public education.The idea of the Parents Engagement Task Force, which held its first meeting Monday, was developed in December when the school board passed a resolution to form the group made up of parents, teachers, labor and school leaders, and parent advocates.

LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines said some teenagers do not want their parents involved at their high schools, but after a shooting at Gardena High School last week and the shooting of a school police officer in Woodland Hills, Cortines said parents need to be more involved in the education of their children.

The group will break up into several subcommittees. One will partner with community groups and another will connect parents with resources from local government agencies to provide parents with even more tools that can help shape their children's education. The task force will also draft a parents' bill of rights and responsibilities.

Cortines said the LAUSD needs to improve the way it communicates with its students' families.

"We need to educate them, just like we do teachers and administrators, to understand the educational program that goes on in classrooms so they can ask the questions, 'What if?' 'How come?' and 'Why not?'" Cortines said.

"These are some of the rights that parents have, to have that relationship and that open communication, a right to know what's expected of their child, a right to a high quality teacher," said school board member Yolie Flores.

The district realizes many parents want to be more involved but are working long hours to support their families. Zella Knight's daughter is an LAUSD grad, but she hopes to be a voice for other parents.

"It's all of us; it's a family; it's a partnership from the schools, the community, the administrators, the teachers -- all of us getting in line and helping those children succeed," said Knight.

The task force is in its early stages. Since Monday's task force meeting was the first of its kind, it was scheduled in the morning, but Cortines said later meetings will likely be in the evenings so more parents can participate.