LA County Office of Education Finds LBUSD Misspent $24 Million

In a response to an administrative complaint brought by parents and community organizations, the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) has found that the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) misallocated $24 million in funds meant to increase or improve services for high need students last year. As a result, the school district will have to make significant adjustments to its education spending plan to provide increased services for students this school year.

While the California Department of Education has ordered districts to correct their spending, this is the first time that a county office of education has found that a district improperly credited itself as having spent funds for high need students, and called for the district to redress this error by increasing its expenditures to high need students in the subsequent school year.  

The administrative complaint, brought under a process called the Uniform Complaint Procedure, was filed in April 2017 by parents Guadalupe Luna and Marina Roman Sanchez, and Latinos in Action-California and the Children’s Defense Fund-California, who are represented by non-profit law firm Public Advocates, Inc.

“Finally, Long Beach Unified is being held accountable to fully meet its obligation to help high need students,” said Sanchez, a parent complainant and member of Latinos in Action-California. “We look forward to working with the district to identify the millions of dollars of new services that will benefit our students.”

According to LACOE, LBUSD did not justify how $17 million of funds generated by high need students spent on textbooks and materials and $7 million on teacher salary costs was used to grow services for low-income, English language learner and foster youth students. LACOE determined that, despite being given the opportunity, LBUSD “could not provide a satisfactory explanation” for its assertion that basic textbook purchases were principally directed to benefit high need students and ultimately concluded the $24 million in textbook and salary costs “should not have been included” among the actions credited against the district’s obligation toward high need students.

“With added flexibility comes greater responsibility for equity and transparency,” said Angelica Salazar, director of education equity for Children’s Defense Fund-California. “We thank LACOE for keeping students first. We continue to support students, parents and community-based organizations in Long Beach to meaningfully engage in this process and hold LBUSD accountable to serving high need students.”

LBUSD will need to demonstrate that it is living up to the promise of California’s groundbreaking education reform law, the Local Control Funding Formula, by amending its current-year spending plan. Complainants estimate that LBUSD will have to add millions more in new spending on high need students in the current school year. LACOE is first giving the California Department of Education time to issue a decision on an earlier appeal by complainants on these matters before requiring the district comply.

“For LCFF to deliver on the promise of equity in California, county offices will sometimes need to exercise critical oversight over local spending plans. We appreciate the county office stepping up to safeguard this promise,” said Angelica Jongco, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Advocates. She added, “We urge LBUSD to take action now to fix this $24 million mistake. High need students should not have to wait yet another year to get the services that they deserve.”

For a copy of the LACOE decision, click here.

For a copy of the UCP complaint against LACOE, click here.

For more background on the Local Control Funding Formula, click here.

BHC Long Beach Mini-Grants for 2017 Are Now Available

Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach is happy to announce our sixth cycle of Mini-Grants! Over the past five years, we have awarded grants to 43 projects for a total of $57,542. We’re excited to provide support for community projects that will have a positive impact in Long Beach neighborhoods facing significant  health inequities.

The BHC Long Beach Mini-Grant was created to:

  • Support informal groups (501c3 status is not required);
  • Provide an opportunity for learning and development;
  • Directly support creative projects that align with the Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach Community Action Plan;
  • Support community engagement;
  • Make a positive impact in our focus area or other areas of Long Beach where community members experience health disparities.

This year projects will be funded in two categories: $749 and below and $750-$1500. Qualifying proposals must be relevant to the current Community Action Plan for BHC Long Beach and be slated for implementation by the end of May 2018.

Applications are due no later than the end of the day on Sunday, June 25th.

For more information, please call 562-436-4800 or email


Las mini-subvenciones de BHC Long Beach ya están disponibles

¡Como Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach, estámos contentos de anunciar el sexto ciclo de nuestras mini subvenciones! Durante los últimos cinco años, hemos ofrecido subvenciones a 43 proyectos por un total de $57,542. Estamos emocionados para apoyar a proyectos comunitarios que tendrán un impacto positivo en los vecindarios de Long Beach que enfrentan injusticias de salud significativas.

Las mini subvenciones de BHC Long Beach fueron creados para:

  • Apoyar grupos informales (no es necesario tener un estatus 501c3);
  • Proporcionar una oportunidad para el aprendizaje y desarrollo;
  • Apoyar directamente a proyectos creativos que alinean con el Plan de Acción de la Comunidad de Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach;
  • Apoyar a la participación comunitaria
  • Hacer un impacto positivo en nuestra área de enfoque o otros áreas de Long Beach donde los miembros de la comunidad enfrentan desigualdades de salud.

Este año, habrá dos categorías de proyectos que recibirán fondos: $749 o menos  y entre $750-$1500. Las propuestas que califican deben ser relevantes para el actual Plan de Acción de la Comunidad de BHC Long Beach y ser programadas para implementación antes de los fines de mayo de 2018.

Las solicitudes deben ser entregadas a más tardar el domingo 25 de junio de 2017.

Para obtener más información, llame al 562-436-4800 o mande un correo electrónico a


Parents and allies file complaint with LBUSD over $40 million meant for high-needs students

The Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) is violating state law by misallocating more than $40 million of state education funding that is specifically designed to increase or improve services for low-income students, English language learners and foster youth, according to an administrative complaint filed today by Public Advocates, Inc. on behalf of Children’s Defense Fund-California (CDF-CA), Latinos in Action and parents of low-income and English learner students.

The complaint asserts that LBUSD is not meeting the promise of equity in the new school funding law known as Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) by failing to increase and improve services for the high-need students who generate additional funds for the district called “supplemental and concentration” grants. Instead, the district has approved allocations for everyday basic instructional services that do not specially address the neediest populations, including $17 million in Common Core instructional materials, $2.5 million for technology infrastructure, and $21.4 million in teacher and staff salary increases and benefits districtwide.

“This bothers me, and makes me very angry,” said Guadalupe Luna, who currently has three children in the district. “If this money was meant to help high need students, why is it being used this way? This is illegal and needs to be brought to public light. It’s upsetting that in a country like ours injustices like these happen and no one stops them when the law says this is the district’s responsibility. Where is the help?”

Luna is one of two parents named as complainants in this claim against the district. Marina Roman Sanchez, the other parent complainant and member of Latinos in Action, has two sons in the district and is equally appalled by the district’s actions or lack thereof as it relates to high needs students. For years, she has fought the district to protect the rights of her children and get them the services they are due and deserve.

“Confronting the district so that my sons can have appropriate services has been so stressful,” Sanchez said. “I have had to prove that my children deserve the services they need. I am tired.”

In total, the complaint asserts that the district is spending some $40 million out of $108 million of this special funding without justifying how these significant investments are meeting the needs of low-income, English language learners and foster youth. This significant spending grows to a total of $124 million in three years. A complaint was also filed against the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) for approving this unlawful spending in LBUSD’s 2016-17 Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP).

“We know what high needs students can and do achieve when they have the targeted academic and social-emotional supports they need from administrators, teachers and staff at their schools,” said Angelica Salazar, senior policy associate for CDF-CA. “Districts will give these students more of a chance by spending equity funds on programs and services they often need, such as intensive academic enrichment, assistance with transportation to and from school, support from mental health professionals, and coaching for teachers on how to eliminate implicit racial bias that impacts academics and school climate.”

The complaint urges the district to amend its 2016-17 LCAP to demonstrate that it is meeting its “proportional spending obligation” to increase and improve services for high needs students and reallocate unjustified expenditures of as much as $40 million to support critical services and comply with the equity promise of LCFF.

“Over the past two years, the district has received multiple letters warning that it is not meeting its obligations to equitably serve high needs students. Unfortunately, the district has not meaningfully responded,” Angelica Jongco, Public Advocates senior staff attorney explained. “While we support fair pay for all staff, across-the-board salary and benefits increases like these should be paid out of the district’s base funding for all students—not the limited pool of funds intended to change outcomes for students with greatest need.”

For a copy of the complaint against LBUSD, click here.
For a copy of the complaint against LACOE, click here.

For background information on LCFF, click here.

Public Advocates Inc. is a nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization that challenges the systemic causes of poverty and racial discrimination by strengthening community voices in public policy and achieving tangible legal victories advancing education, housing, transportation equity, and climate justice.

Children’s Defense Fund-California (CDF-CA) is a state office of the Children’s Defense Fund, a national child advocacy organization that has worked relentlessly for over 40 years to ensure a level playing field for all children. CDF-CA champions policies and programs that lift children out of poverty, ensure all children have access to health coverage and care and a quality education, and invest in our justice-involved youth.

Latinos in Action is a community-based organization whose mission is to fortify and enrich the lives of families, individuals, seniors and youth.

Executive Director’s Blog: New Growth

Not too long ago I sat in the lobby of a fancy hotel in Oakland’s city center wading through my email inbox before the beginning of a work “retreat” (AKA long meeting). “You are Not Your Performance” read the subject line on an email from Move to End Violence. I was on day 17 of their 21-day self-care challenge and the day’s message started, “In our hectic world, there is often an unyielding pressure to perform in a certain way, rather than to just be who you are. Know that your performance is not who you are. Your worth is inherent, it’s not transactional, to be won or lost in an instant. External performance is not about who you are.”

Once the retreat started, the theme of performance came up again. Our facilitator shared a quotation from the work of Fred Kofman and Peter Senge, “Overemphasis on competition makes looking good more important than being good. The resulting fear of not looking good is one of the greatest enemies of learning. To learn, we need to acknowledge that there is something we don’t know and to perform activities that we’re not good at.”

These words were coupled with the image below from Center for Creative Leadership which illustrates the potential learning that is lost when people and organizations too quickly retreat from the stress of new opportunities for growth (and failure) back into their comfort zones.


Similarly, the email from the self-care challenge suggested that movements for social justice require the willingness to take risks and experiment–things that are inhibited when we’re afraid to fail. Scared of losing face, we might opt to “play it safe.”

In addition to organizations and movements, there are important lessons here for individuals.

As I get ready to embark on perhaps the biggest change of my life–having a child–undoubtedly, I will need to recalibrate my expectations for myself in the coming months. Becoming a mother will surely impact the way I work. And my love for my work and the community it is situated in will surely impact how I approach motherhood. I think these are good things and I intend to give myself some wiggle room as I move forward.

That said, the time off and shift of focus that becoming a mother will entail is out of my comfort zone. I know that when I return from maternity leave my ability to sit in the city-council chambers until midnight or attend three community events on a Saturday will be diminished. I fear that I will return to work feeling disconnected and less effective, that becoming a mom will take me backwards in some way, and that my external performance will suffer and people will think less of me. This is where the reminder that my worth is inherent is helpful.

Defining success for myself has become an important practice. As a child of the eighties growing up in Small Town USA, Ricky Nelson crooning “you can’t please everybody, so you might as well please yourself” is embedded in my DNA. Still it’s taken me awhile to embrace this sentiment. Of course, I care what others think about me. (Often too much.) But to stay sane in a dynamic political environment with an incredibly diverse community of people I work with, I’ve found that I need my own measuring stick to evaluate how I’m doing. I’ve also found that how I’m doing at work isn’t the only important measure.

I am addressing the fears that accompany my soon-to-be new reality in a number of ways including by working with my team, devising plans for how to leave and return to the work, and tapping into the wisdom of the parents (mostly moms) in my network. Through this process, I’ve begun to see this as an opportunity–a chance to hit “refresh” and approach the work, and life, with new eyes.

The self-care challenge left me with an important take away: “To be our most impactful, we need to be able to fail spectacularly–time and again–without feeling like a failure.” I trust that these words don’t just apply to me, or my team who will be stretching themselves in new ways while I’m gone, but to all of us who are working to create change in our workplaces, families, and communities.

I wish you all the best as we close out 2016 and begin a new year. I will resume my monthly blog posts in the spring.

Dr. Christine E. Petit serves as Executive Director for Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach, which is part of The California Endowment’s statewide effort to improve health outcomes through community engagement and policy change. She also serves as Chair of the City of Long Beach’s Board of Health and Human Services. Christine is co-founder of the Long Beach Time Exchange—a time-banking community based on the premise that everyone in Long Beach has something to contribute to our city. Christine holds a Ph.D. in sociology with emphases in social change and race and class inequality.

Hace poco tiempo me sentí en el vestíbulo de un hotel sofisticado en el centro de la ciudad de Oakland, tratando de leer todos mis correos electrónicos antes de empezar un “retiro” de trabajo (que quiere decir una reunión muy larga). “No eres tus desempeños” fue el título de un correo electrónico de Move to End Violence (Moverse para acabar con la violencia). Yo estaba participando en su desafío de 21 días del cuidado personal y el mensaje del día 17 declaró, “En nuestro mundo tan movimentado, muchas veces existe una presión firme para desempeñarse de cierta forma, en vez de simplemente ser quien eres. Sabe que tu desempeño no define quien eres. Tu valor es inherente; no es transaccional, como algo que lo puede ganar o perder en un instante. El desempeño externo no define quien eres.”

Cuando empezó el retiro, volvió el tema de desempeño. Nuestra facilitadora compartió una cita del trabajo de Fred Kofman y Peter Senge, “La importancia exagerada de la competencia hace que verse bien sea más importante que portarse bien. El temor que resulta de no verse bien es uno de los enemigos mayores del aprendizaje. Para aprender, hay que reconocer que hay algo que no sabemos y hacer actividades que no las dominan.”

Estas palabras, juntas con el imagen abajo del Center for Creative Leadership (el Centro para el liderazgo creativo), lo cual explica el aprendizaje potencial que se pierde cuando la gente y las organizaciones se retractan del estrés y de las nuevas oportunidades para crecer (y fallar); entran de nuevo en sus zonas de confort.



Similarmente, el correo electrónico del desafío de cuidado personal sugirió que los movimientos para la justicia social requieren las ganas de tomar riesgos y experimentar — cosas que se limitan cuando tenemos miedo de fallar. Con el miedo de desprestigiarse, puede ser que escojamos no correr riesgos.

Además de las organizaciones y movimientos, hay lecciones importantes aquí para individuos.

Cuando me pongo lista para empezar lo que tal vez será el reto más grande de mi vida – tener un bebé – sin dudas, necesitaré reorganizar mis expectativas personales en los siguientes meses. Es seguro que ser madre impactará la manera en que trabajo. Y también, el amor que tengo para mi trabajo y la comunidad donde se ubica seguramente afectarán cómo me dirijo a la maternidad. Creo que estas son buenas cosas y tengo planes de dejar que yo tenga un poco de flexibilidad en el futuro.

Dicho esto, el tiempo que me quedaré fuera y el cambio de enfoque que se necesita para ser madre están fuera de mi zona de confort. Sé que cuando regreso de mi licencia de maternidad,  mi habilidad de sentarme en el ayuntamiento hasta la medianoche o asistir tres eventos comunitarios en un sábado disminuirá. Tengo miedo de que voy a regresar a trabajar sintiéndome desconectada y menos efectiva, que hacerme madre me llevará para atrás de alguna manera, que mi desempeño externo sufrirá o que la gente pensará menos en mí. En esto, me ayuda el recordatorio de que mi valor es inherente.

Definir el éxito para mí ha sido una práctica importante. Como una hija de los años ochenta, viviendo en un pueblo pequeño, los canturreos de Ricky Nelson, “no puede complacer a todos, entonces mejor que complaces a ti mismo” son partes de mi ADN. Pero todavía me ha costado realmente aceptar este refrán. Es claro que me importa lo que piensan los demás sobre mi (a veces demasiado). Pero para mantenerme sana en este ambiente político dinámico con la comunidad increíblemente diversa con quien trabajo, he encontrado que necesito mi propia regla para evaluar mi progreso. También he encontrado que mi desempeño en el trabajo no es la única medida importante.

Estoy abordando los miedos que van juntos con mi realidad que pronto llegará en varias maneras, que incluyen trabajar con mi equipo, desarrollar planes de como salir y regresar al trabajo y utilizar la sabiduría de los padres (la mayoría madres) en mi red. Durante este proceso, he empezado a ver la oportunidad que me espera como una oportunidad de revitalizar y ver el trabajo y la vida con una nueva perspectiva.

El desafío de cuidado personal me dejó con un punto destacado importante: “Para ser los más impactantes, hay que poder fallar con espectacularidad – vez por vez – sin sentirnos como fracasos. Tengo confianza de que estas palabras no nada más aplican a mi, o mi equipo que va a tomar nuevos papeles en mi ausencia, sino a todos nosotros que estamos trabajando en crear cambios en nuestros lugares de trabajo, familias y comunidades.

Les deseo a todos lo mejor mientras cerramos el 2016 y empezamos un nuevo año. Regreso con mis publicaciones del blog mensuales en la primavera.

Dr. Christine E. Petit sirve como Directora Ejecutiva de Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach, que es parte del esfuerzo estatal de The California Endowment para mejorar los resultados de salud a través de la participación comunitaria y los cambios de políticas. Ella también sirve como presidenta de la Junta de Salud y Servicios Humanos de la Ciudad de Long Beach. Christine también es la co-fundadora del Long Beach Time Exchange – una comunidad de la banca del tiempo basada en la idea que todos en Long Beach tienen algo para contribuir a nuestra ciudad. Christine tiene su doctorado en la sociología con énfasis en el cambio social y la desigualdad de raza y clase.