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Soulvine: Los Angeles County Office of Education

Columnist Betty Pleasant on the Los Angeles County Office of Education mission to destroy Black-operated schools and educational programs in South L. A.

Los Angeles County Office of Education — the ISIS of education; it’s time to send ground troops to destroy LACOE

The Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) is the worst entity on Earth, whose hatred for Black people and ceaseless mission to destroy Black-operated schools and educational programs in South Los Angeles rivals the fanatical jihadists’ intent of killing everybody on the planet who is not one of them. Like Isis, LACOE must be destroyed.

LACOE and Kedren Community Center Head Start

ComptonHerald.com | Betty Pleasant

“Soulvine” is commentary by Betty Pleasant

For the past couple of years I have written extensively about LACOE’s closure of the fine network of Black-operated Head Start programs in business in Los Angeles ever since the national Head Start program was launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 1965. One of the earliest to open, the Kedren Community Center Head Start, was the last to close in July, 2014 when director Dr. James L. Jones was forced by LACOE to hand over his Head Start contract to Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and his then education deputy Alex Johnson, or else LACOE would take it from him. Johnson is now a member of the LACOE board. Almost immediately — and much to the consternation and downright anger of Kedren’s parents and Black long time, middle aged employees — LACOE gave Kedren’s surrendered Head Start contract to Children’s Institute Inc. (CII), a White-operated organization which chose to hire Whites and bilingual Latinos instead of Blacks in its retooled Kedren operation.

The rancor over that particular LACOE action blossomed to the point that it was condemned by Rep. Maxine Waters, who pressed for a federal investigation into the Kedren closure and caused the FBI to step into the matter.

LACOE and WAYS Charter School

After that mission was accomplished, LACOE turned its attention to the Black-operated Wisdom Academy for Young Scientists (WAYS), a charter school in operation for 10 years on east Manchester Avenue and has the distinction of being one of the highest ranking charter elementary schools in the state. As I’ve written before, LACOE in general — and Judy Higelin the (now retired) head of LACOE’s Charter School Office — had been hell-bent on closing WAYS. Why? Because Higelin hates Black people. WAYS is Black-operated and has a predominately Black student body, which Higelin believed ought to be predominately Latino. And to boot, WAYS’ founder, Kendra Okwonko, is really Black being as she is a Nigerian from West Africa. Higelin despised Okwonko, her daughter and her son who both work at the school. And because of that animus Higelin demeaned the school, attacked it, treated it differently than other charter schools, bad mouthed it, hired private detectives to surveil the Black employees — whom she accused of committing crimes, and for which she has been sued. Higelin is awful and she’s doing something now that has angered WAYS’ parents and that can get some people hurt. Sit down and let me tell you all about it. A group of angry WAYS parents brought this to my attention:

It seems there is an 8-year-old boy in WAYS’ 3rd grade class that should not be there and they don’t want him there, but LACOE’s Higelin is requiring that WAYS keep him, in violation to public education protocols. This boy commits repeated abusive acts to his classmates. According to the parents, the boy is extremely foul mouthed, freely uses the “F” word, is obsessed about sex, and touches his little girl classmates inappropriately.

Mrs. Gordon, the woman who runs WAYS’ after school program, had already kicked the boy out of her program because of his nasty behavior. His bad behavior in the classroom hit the fan a while ago when he exposed his penis and put it on the head of a girl in his class. The boy’s mother was called and told to come to the school right away. WAYS’ administrators called the police department and the Department of Children and Family Services, pursuant to the rules applicable to such circumstances.

Ed Cabil, WAYS’ principal, suspended the boy from the Manchester Avenue campus and instructed his mother to take him to WAYS’ Salvation Army campus where he could receive special attention from a “student success team,” an assessment procedure which is the precursor to getting a child into a special needs program. Instead of doing that, the boy’s mother developed an attitude and went to LACOE where she filed a civil rights complaint against WAYS for removing him. Higelin, who was happy to hear it, sided with the mother and told her to return the boy to his original WAYS school because she “had the right to send her child to any school she chooses.”

Pursuant to LACOE’s instructions, the mother took the boy back to the WAYS school from which he was suspended and the first thing he did upon arrival in his old classroom was to kick two girls! This was more than the other parents could stand. They organized and went public about LACOE forcing this problem child upon their children. Mrs. Culpepper, spokesperson for the outraged parents, has four children in the WAYS Manchester school, said “I don’t want that nasty boy anywhere near them,” she said. “And I don’t want them learning sex education from this little freak.”

One of the fathers, who alluded to his gang association, angrily declared that “if my daughter tells me this thing touched her or said anything nasty to her, it will be the last thing he does.” (Oh my!)

“There’s something wrong with him and we don’t want him here,” another mother said. “LACOE is giving that boy the right to do whatever he wants. But what about the right of our children to come to school in peace?” she asked. “LACOE has given the boy the right to abuse, whereas those people have given his victims no rights,” she added. (while the gangster daddy mumbled in the background: “I got lots of rights!”)

I called Higelin at LACOE three times to discuss this issue with her and she didn’t return any of my calls. I then called LAUSD Board Member George McKenna to learn how the LAUSD handles such incidents. McKenna said: “According to the proper protocols, LACOE has the total responsibility of addressing this situation. There are several alternative placement options available and LACOE must provide the resources and not just tell his mother she can send him anywhere — she can’t,” McKenna continued. “It’s LACOE’s job to provide him a suitable situation that would alter his behavior,” McKenna said.

“Give me the name and number of the LACOE person who refuses to return your calls,” McKenna said. “She’ll talk to me,” he added. The boy and his mother live in McKenna’s 1st LAUSD district, so he should have some say about the problem.

While McKenna is talking to LACOE people, I wonder if he can find out why LACOE Superintendent Arturo Delgado abruptly resigned earlier this year and then just as abruptly rescinded his resignation. I’ve asked, but nobody at LACOE will tell me. They’re keeping it secret. Why? Is it something nasty too? I don’t mind though. If I were LACOE I wouldn’t talk to me either!

As with ISIS, it’s time to send ground troops into LACOE to destroy that thing because firebombing it alone won’t get the job done. Holler at me when the alliance of parents, state and federal elected officials, impartial educators, and others who know the difference between right and wrong set their sights on LACOE because I want to be there.

Betty Pleasant is a contributing writer and columnist for the Compton Herald. She was formerly a reporter at the Los Angeles Sentinel and a columnist at the Los Angeles Wave.

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