Letter from a Los Angeles Teacher Jail
NOTE from Randy: I teach/taught and am now jailed in West LA and Zimmer is the Board Member in my geographical area, just like you have a Congressman based on where you live. We have seven Board Members in LA. But I sent this exact email to all seven Board members "personally": Dear Ms. Garcia, Dear Ms. Galatzan., etc. Zimmer's differed only because he knows me and I spoke briefly to him last week. Only he got the parenthetical expression below my name.
When we briefly (and unofficially met), they told me they have been told by "legal" that they cannot meet with teacher prisoners, that if they do they will have to recuse themselves from the dismissal vote the Board ultimately takes. How this works is a mystery to me because as far as I know they do not vote knowing the teacher's name. To "protect identities and assure 'objectivity'" they vote by case number. However they do it, they are doing it 20-30 teachers at a time each month, boom, boom, boom, a rubber stamp or in this case stamps.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Martin Luther King Jr.
Letter from a Birmingham Jail
April 16, 1963
Ohanian Comment: I repeat Randy's question, "Where's the decency?" I would think that a teacher who had given the district 28 years of service would be given a very full, face-to-face hearing.
Randy writes of teachers being abused, isolated, segregated, and humiliated. All teachers must care about this. Tomorrow it could be you.
Dear Mr. Zimmer,
It is appropriate that I would try to address the Board of Education the way I did today on Martin Luther King's birthday. I had to read too fast and did not have time to finish in three minutes. Consider this my "Letter from a Birmingham Jail". Birmingham in Los Angeles. The text is attached if you'd like to share it. Thank you for listening and I hope you will reread it.
(Mr. Zimmer, I sent the above and below to each Board member. You all need to know. You may not believe. You may not be able to do anything. But you all need to know.)
Thank you distinguished members of the Board of Education,
I am here to discuss the teacher prison network devised by the superintendent. He has created within your LAUSD a prison industrial complex for teachers, teacher gulags, imprisoning 350 teachers with more added daily. LAUSD is now the Soviet Union, the Myanmar of public education
The superintendent has taken his personal frustration and the failings of district administrators relating to Miramonte and placed the blame on innocent teacher scapegoats. You must be aware this is happening. Are almost 350 teachers suddenly behaving "inappropriately" or has the superintendent launched an unprecedented witch hunt using the ruse of "student safety" to destroy the lives of dedicated teaching professionals?
In Superintendent Deasy's teacher jails, teachers are abused, isolated, segregated, and humiliated. Teachers are now housed completely without thought or reasonableness. They are denied due process. Teachers are never spoken to until after LAUSD "completes" its so-called "investigations". It never interviews teachers ever. How do you conduct an investigation without interviewing the teacher? Unsupported allegations are treated as fact.
LAUSD Administrators who conduct the investigations have no training in the proper techniques for interviewing children and they are never videotaped. Parents, rarely informed ahead of time, are never asked for permission. LAPD's dismissals of baseless charges are ignored by LAUSD. LAUSD treats LAPD as an inconvenience.
Ms. Galatzan, you and others talk about streamlining the due process system, but the current administration has eliminated due process conducting charades instead. Everything is predetermined. Principals read prepared scripts they know are false out of fear of reprisals. Teacher input is denied or ignored. There are no Skelly Hearings, no real ones anyway. LAUSD doesn't even review the evidence with teachers. In LAUSD, facts don't matter. Allegations matter.
What you are witnessing is nothing less than a modern McCarthyism where teachers are being Blacklisted with false allegations. Instead of a Red Menace, Superintendent Deasy has invented a Teacher Menace.
I have been a proud teacher and administrator in LAUSD for 28 years going back to 1982 and garnished a number of distinctions. I was an assistant principal at Crenshaw for two years, brought in at the District's request to help restore its WASC accreditation. I was a mentor teacher for six years and have written official LAUSD curriculum. My teaching has been recognized nationally twice by Johns Hopkins University as a Johns Hopkins Teaching Fellow. My classroom was the only one selected in California to be featured on the National Science Foundation's live broadcast featuring students in classrooms across the nation and experts at JPL and NASA. Good Morning America once did a major feature on my classroom. At Palms Middle School, one of my sixth graders rose from the 49th percentile to the 99th percentile in math in a single year on the CTBS. At Westside, Josephine Galdomez (6th grade) rose from Far Below Basic all the way to Advanced on the CST in a single year with me.
The contrivances being used to destroy this life and career came not from my principal who greatly admires my teaching, though he goose steps along like all site administrators now for fear of losing his job. There is a top down atmosphere of fear created and nurtured by a superintendent who is not focused on education or discipline, but only termination.
I stand before you as one of LAUSD's finest teachers: a mentor teacher, a Johns Hopkins teaching fellow, an outstanding former administrator, and now suddenly a dishonored, miscreant according to your administration, to speak truth to power. Mr. Superintendent, you imprisoned one too many teachers. Me. I speak for all teacher prisoners and thousands of teachers. The allegations against me are beyond false. They are ludicrous. Yet you, sir, treat them as true. And I am by no means alone. You have criminalized teaching by making ludicrous allegations and even the most minor offense into a firing offense.
I quote army attorney Joseph Walsch who finally terminated Joseph McCarthy.
"Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last have you no sense of decency?"