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Inglewood school district rates poorly 2 years after state takeover, report finds

Students exit Inglewood High School as the bell rings on February 28, 2012.
Grant Slater/KPCC
Students exit Inglewood High School as the bell rings on February 28, 2012.

Nearly two years after being taken over by the state for its disastrous finances, the Inglewood Unified School District is still struggling with leadership and fiscal management, according to a state report to be released Thursday. In some areas, it is actually doing worse than last year.

The 472-page report is produced annually by the Fiscal Crisis and Management Team, a state agency that monitors the fiscal health of school districts when they go into receivership. 

The agency looked at Inglewood's finances, student achievement and governance, among other criteria. 

"FCMAT remains concerned that the district lacks the ability and capacity to set priorities, implement systemic reform, establish high expectations for student achievement, manage resources, ensure accountability, and align practices" according to the report.

In nearly every category, the district's ranking went down from last year, raising questions about the leadership of Don Brann, the former superintendent of Wiseburn school district, who California education officials brought in as trustee to turn around Inglewood schools in June 2013.

Brann told KPCC he "just scanned" the report and doesn't know enough to comment. He said he would "get into it in the coming months."

The report finds the Inglewood school district lacks tracking systems for employee absences, overtime, inventory supplies and purchases, among other things. It also criticizes staffing vacancies and what it calls a lack of focus, saying they have "impeded progress of schools."

"Despite the generally positive school environment, classroom teaching is highly inconsistent and unsuccessful as evidenced by low student achievement district-wide," the report reads.

Brann acknowledged that a few schools still don't have principals, but said he's trying to fill those positions before school starts Sept. 3rd. 

The report did point out some bright spots. It said some students' academic achievement had improved since last year's report. It credited the leadership of a few individual principals for those gains, not their bosses.

During a visit to the district, evaluators with the Fiscal Crisis and Management Team found no one at district headquarters was responsible for supervising principals or evaluating their work.

Among the other findings:

  • School Safety – Inglewood schools lacks a comprehensive safety program. One school didn't have an actual fire alarm system. At another school, the alarm bell couldn't be heard in all of the classrooms. Chemicals and compounds were poorly labeled, kept on cluttered shelves.
  • Outdated policies – the District hasn't updated its policies on code of conduct, conflict of interest and ethics in 23 years.
  • Facility Planning — $7 million has been spent on architect fees for a new school development, but the plans have yet to be submitted to the Division of State Architect, as required by law. 
  • Excessive employee absenteeism — Forty percent of the district's staff — 452 employees – took 10 days of unplanned absences