An Open Letter To Raymond Johnson (Chief Inspector, LAUSD Office Of The Inspector General)


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Raymond Johnson
Office of the Inspector General 
333 South Beaudry Avenue,
12th Floor 
Los Angeles, California 90017 

Dear Mr. Johnson, 

In reviewing my notes and your statements from our meeting on January 11, 2010, I have a great deal of concern as to how the LAUSD OIG's is presently functioning with regard to my own complaint and, more generally, how it does not appear to me to have the independence with which to fulfill its mandate as an entity capable of addressing pervasive fraud and mismanagement within LAUSD. In fact, it is my belief that the OIG's, as presently constituted, can actually be used to further these improper behaviors on the part of present LAUSD administration that it is supposed to oversee: 

1. My initial complaint regarding the graduation and awarding of valid high school diplomas to 79 students from Central High/Tri-C with mostly elementary reading levels -- some as low as 3rd grade according to the STAR Reading Examination -- was filed on 8/11/09 and yet you had no explanation as to why you only contacted me for the first time on 1/7/10, five months after my initial complaint. The best you could offer is that you had only been assigned the case around Christmas by your boss Miles Bookstein. In trying to reach Mr. Bookstein, I found no reference to him on the LAUSD Internet site. 
 2. When I asked you why Janice Davis, my principal Janet Seary's immediate superior, was given the allegedly fraudulent Central High/Tri-C graduation to investigate by the OIG, you said that this was standard LAUSD procedure. In my complaint to LAUSD's OIG, there is the appearance of something less than an independent investigation of the fact when those intimately involved with the case are tasked to investigate it. Janice Davis is not only allowed to do an investigation without contacting me, where she predictable finds "no merit" to my claims, but she is also party to my notices of unsatisfactory acts and my two suspensions. In addition, she will hear my appeal of these charges on 1/25/10, a rather strange notion of constitutional due process. According to the canon of legal ethics, judges are suppose to "avoid even the appearance of impropriety, something that doesn't seem to be of much concern at LAUSD."
 3. Although I have been subjected to a constant campaign of harassment since I made my report to LAUSD Office of Inspector General, Superintendent Ramon Cortines and his Chief of Staff Jim Morris, WASC, and the Los Angeles Times, you told me that there was no provision in the LAUSD Whistleblower Policy to do anything other than remove the recent negative notices of unsatisfactory acts and 2 suspensions from my record. There was no provision for compensating me for the damage to my career as a teacher, even though I have had a prior career of 15 years with LAUSD with excellent evaluations and no negative marks against me. Suggesting as you did that my only remedy would be to bring a lawsuit against LAUSD for intentional harassment and deprivation of job opportunity, intentional infliction of emotion distress, and loss of increased salary should not be the only avenue open to me for redress of grievance... Especially with LAUSD in the financial mess that it presently faces with the promise of more job cuts in the not to distant future. 
 4. In the same meeting, I mentioned to you that I potentially had access to evidence that showed that school attendance results had been changed in a fraudulent manner that was subsequently used to defraud the State of California, which pays Average Daily Attendance money to LAUSD based on these records. You said that no immunity could be offered to anybody who was willing to share these records with your office. Not only would your office not offer use or transactional immunity for documentation of fraud, but you said that these documents could be used against the person or persons sharing them with you in a subsequent action by LAUSD to dismiss them or in other potential actions taken against them even if you found that these people like myself are true whistleblowers under the LAUSD Whistleblower Policy. This policy is clearly not conducive to stopping pervasive fraud and malfeasance in getting people to come forward with what they know. The impression that I was left with by our meeting is that there are a great many improper activities that your office could know more about, if it truly cared to uncover them. And although you said to me that you could not be fired by Superintendent Cortines or his Chief of Staff Morris, it seemed to me that the primary purpose of your office was to protect the status quo at LAUSD. Your willingness to go along with what you know is wrong is a cynical belief that must change in all LAUSD employees; employees who should no longer let themselves off the hook by saying, "It's not in my chain of command." We all know where "I was only following orders" leads.  

P.S. When I referred to what I have been put through as a kafkaesque reality, as an intelligent graduate of Dorsey High School, you did not understand the reference to the writer Franz Kafka. Alas, this deficit in your education is precisely what must be eliminated in the future of inner city public education, if we expect to maintain this country as an educated and viable democracy. 

 Sincerely, 
 Leonard Isenberg, teacher

flickr: Charline Tetiyevsky
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18

01 2010

4 Comments

you know blogs have become an integral part of the internet nowadays and this is partly because of good bloggers like you who care to keep there blog in good shape.

I believe you have made many truly interesting points. Not too many people would really think about it the direction you just did. I am truly impressed that there is so much about this subject that has been uncovered and you did it so nicely

Lenny-

I know your frustration with the Inspector General office. When Pali junked all of the Industrial Education equipment to expand classrooms and watching my 33 years of building a Graphic Arts program go to the scrap heap, I turned this action in to the IG office-needless to say, there was no response or action taken against the illustrious Exec. Director, Held.
This equipment as well as Auto Shop and Wood shop machinery belonged to LAUSD and the State of Calif. Voc Ed
program. The equipment was not "obsolete" and could have been used at another school in need such as Venice or University. Another notable accomplishment for Ms Held-she should be prosecuted for a mis-use of public money and scrapping the equipment!!

regards,
Merle D.

Merle-

The last time I looked, the college graduation rate of Pali was about 30% of its graduates. The total capacity of all colleges and universities in the United States is 40% of all high school graduates- what is everybody else supposed to do? The LAUSD Board made a decision years ago to phase out vocation education, because they thought the cost of retrofitting the shops would be too prohibitive. In France, where I worked for 7 years, the private sector paid for these costs and others in a win-win public/private partnership that continues to benefit both. It was my industrial arts education from Northridge Junior High that allowed me to pay for the cost of my first 2 college degrees as an automotive mechanic and qualify me as an industrial arts teacher, something I have never been able to find a job teaching in LAUSD.

Best regards and stay in touch Merle. Contrary to what one is led to believe, LAUSD could once again become a place where a great 21st century education is possible.

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