LAUSD DEDICATES $10 MILLION TO NATIVE AND INDIGENOUS STUDENT EDUCATION

LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF EDUCATION

VOTES TO DEDICATE $10 MILLION TO NATIVE AND INDIGENOUS STUDENT EDUCATION

Los Angeles, Calif. (June 23, 2021) The Indigenous Education Now Coalition (IEN), comprised of students, parents, community members, Tribes, and Native organizations, is proud to announce that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education unanimously voted on Tuesday, June 22, to dedicate $10 million to support Indigenous Student Achievement that will bring much needed relief for Native and Indigenous students that have experienced enormous hardships due to the pandemic. 

“The pandemic has been hard. Not being able to go into public, not being able to be in community — such as gathering at powwows — has left a spot in my sense of belonging, and left me feeling isolated by not being able to see other people,” said Tash Montana (Tohono-O’odham), a LAUSD rising junior and member of the Indigenous Education Now Coalition. “It’s been hard enough being a Native student at LAUSD. The LAUSD curriculum has been especially hard, and something I have to decipher about what’s true or not. I learned about my culture and history through my family and friends, not at school at all.” 

Los Angeles Unified School District has the largest American Indian/Alaska Native and Indigenous student populations than any district in the state. “Although our student population is large by our standards, Native and Indigenous students have suffered a history of disinvestment, chronic neglect and invisibility in the district,said Chrissie Castro (Diné & Chicana), member of the Indigenous Education Now Coalition and Executive Director of the California Native Vote Project. “We also know that there are thousands of Indigenous students from Mexico and Central America that are not being counted. Last night, LAUSD took a step in the right direction to correct historical and current harms that educational systems have perpetrated against our students.”

Our community has been working to transform LAUSD on behalf of Native students for decades,” said Rudy Ortega, Jr., Tribal President, Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, and member of the Indigenous Education Now Coalition. “Along this journey, we have lost elders, including Tongva elder, Julia Bogany and Cayuga/Cherokee advocate Sandy Franks. We stand on their shoulders, and all of those that have worked tirelessly for our students for many years.” 

The funding from yesterday’s announcement will be allocated to Native and Indigenous partner organizations and Tribes who can help address critical student service needs related to academic achievement in the district’s larger COVID-19 recovery efforts, and ensure LAUSD schools are places that affirm their unique linguistic, cultural, and historic backgrounds. 

 

IEN Coalition members were able to mobilize community members to leave nearly 100 voicemail messages to the district hotline, have dozens of its community members email the board with public comment, and garnered more than 1,000 petition signatures in support of Indigenous Student Achievement seed funding. Additionally, IEN Coalition members also stood in solidarity with LA Students Deserve at yesterday’s rally at the LAUSD headquarters, and IEN members were able to share public comment at the LAUSD board meetings throughout the day. 

 

“This is a historic win, and we should celebrate. But our work doesn’t stop here,” said Castro. “We need better data and reporting; we need to invest dollars into the Indian education program which has been starved of resources for too long; we need to re-establish community oversight with a commission or Community Steering Committee; and there must be meaningful Tribal Consultation, respecting our rights as Native and Indigenous peoples, including regarding curriculum reform.” 


“The power of organizing as a coalition of Tribes, organizations and communities proves to be the most effective path forward. We celebrate the Board of Education’s responsiveness but remind everyone that the allocation is still a pittance compared to the tremendous disadvantage, debt and duty to serve Indigenous students deserve,” said Marcos Aguilar, Nahua Masewalli Mexicano, Executive Director, Semillas del Pueblo-Anahuacalmecac, and member of the Indigenous Education Now Coalition

About the Indigenous Education Now Coalition

Building off the community organizing win of the recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day, a group of Native students, parents and community members came together to participate in a community organizing training series to continue the community momentum, strengthen leadership skills, further political analysis skills, and increase the ability to lead campaigns to change the systems and policies impacting their families. Many of the Native youth and their families were connected to Native organizations or Tribes, and several months later, these relationships resulted in the formation of the Indigenous Education Now Coalition (IEN). 

The coalition has come together to support the vision of the students and parents for a radically different educational system that honors the cultural strengths and teachings of Native and Indigenous families.

The IEN is comprised of the Gabrieleno Tongva Band of Mission Indians, Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Missions Indians, California Native Vote Project, Anahuacalmecac World School, UCLA American Indian Studies Center, Pukuu Cultural Community Services, United American Indian Involvement Clubhouse, and American Indian Community Council, as well as students, parents and community members from throughout the community.

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Contact: Jennifer Cuevas

213-375-8714

jeneratemedia@gmail.com      

Los Angeles Unified School District Responds to Formal Complaint Submitted by the Indigenous Education Now Coalition

Los Angeles, Calif. (May 13, 2020) The Los Angeles Unified School District has acknowledged a complaint brought against it by the Indigenous Education Now Coalition – but the gesture is too little too late. 

Last month, the Indigenous Education Now Coalition (IEN) filed a formal complaint with the United States Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, against the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for failure to comply with federal law requiring tribal consultation with tribes and tribal organizations. On May 4, the Education Equity Compliance Office (EECO) sent an acknowledgement letter to IEN regarding the formal complaint submitted on April 17. 

The Education Equity Compliance Office determined that the allegations made in the complaint are appropriate for an investigation under regulations governing the Uniform Complaint Process (UCP). Due to COVID-19, the District says it will conduct an investigation that has to be completed on or before 60 days following the reopening of schools. In the past, LAUSD has failed to adequately respond to requests made by Coalition members. 

“It is unconscionable that LAUSD would be so brash as to game the COVID-19 crisis to thwart justice by employing delay tactics. Over the last two years it has proven futile to raise this issue with LAUSD, and this letter is another example as to why.  The Coalition does not have to follow a process with a bad actor when it is futile. LAUSD took over a year to even provide records when requested before, all of which they could have produced within days,” said Marcos Aguilar, Executive Director of Anahuacalmecac World School. 

“The District has inadequately responded to our formal complaint. While we understand that COVID-19 may delay processes, the letter the Los Angeles Unified School District sent the Coalition demonstrates a lack of urgency to respond. As the first people of Los Angeles, it is incredibly frustrating that our local tribes are never given the respect or opportunity to provide input when it comes to American Indian Education,” said Rudy J. Ortega, Jr., Tribal President, Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Missions Indians. 

The complaint highlights, among other evidence, Section 8538 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA or Act), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), that requires that educational agencies (LEA) like the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) “shall consult” with appropriate officials from Indian tribes or tribal organizations approved by tribes prior to the LEA’s submission of a required plan or application for a covered program under the Act, or for a program under Title VI of the Act (relating to Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native Education).

The Act further requires that, “Such consultation must be done in a manner and in such time that provides the opportunity for such appropriate officials from Indian tribes or tribal organizations to meaningfully and substantively contribute to such plan.” (20 U.S.C § 7918.) “Appropriate officials” means tribal officials who are elected, or appointed tribal leaders or officials designated in writing by an Indian tribe for the specific consultation purpose under 20 U.S.C. §7918(c)(2). 

“Because of the lack of adequate consultation, Native students are disproportionately suffering due to the COVID-19 crisis. Statewide, Native students have the highest percentage of food insecurity and lowest rates of digital access, all while having the lowest high school graduation rate and highest chronic absenteeism. It’s tone deaf for the district to tell us to wait until school is back in session,” said Chrissie Castro, Co-founder and Senior Advisor of the California Native Vote Project. 

In response to historic disparity and inequities faced by Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and other Indigenous students, the IEN formed more than one year ago. Now, the Coalition calls upon the U.S. Department of Education to ensure that the Los Angeles Unified School District properly consults with local Indian tribes and organizations, as well as respond to the COVID-19 crisis exacerbating historic neglect of Indigenous students across Los Angeles. 

“The failure of the district has led to educational outcomes that are unacceptable for Native students. Our community has come together to say we aren’t going to take it anymore,” said Celestina Castillo, Executive Director of the California Native Vote Project.  

About Indigenous Education Now Coalition

The IEN is comprised of the Gabrieleno-Tongva Band of Mission Indians, Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Missions Indians, California Native Vote Project, Anahuacalmecac World School, UCLA American Indian Studies Center, Pukuu Cultural Community Services, United American Indian Involvement Clubhouse, and American Indian Community Council, as well as students, parents and community members from throughout the community. 

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Contact: Jennifer Cuevas
213-375-8714
jeneratemedia@gmail.com

LAUSD: Indigenous Education Now!

INDIGENOUS EDUCATION NOW COALITION SUBMITS FORMAL COMPLAINT TO UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AGAINST LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

 

Los Angeles, Calif. (April 21, 2020)– The Indigenous Education Now Coalition (IEN), comprised of Tribes, Native organizations and students, parents, and community members, filed a formal complaint with the United States Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, against the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) on April 17, for failure to comply with federal law requiring tribal consultation with tribes and tribal organizations. 

“The Coalition calls upon the U.S. Department of Education to ensure that the LAUSD properly consults with local Indian tribes and organizations, and respond to the COVID-19 crisis exacerbating historic neglect of Native students,” said Chrissie Castro, Co-Founder and Senior Adviser of the California Native Vote Project (CNVP). 

“Proper consultation with all the local tribes is long overdue, as the first people of Los Angeles, we are always forgotten, never given the respect to provide our vital input to the required education plan relating to American Indian Education. We, the Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians trace our ancestry to a coalition of lineages originating in the Simi, Santa Clarita, Antelope, and San Fernando Valleys where we feel our true voice needs to be presented in the required education plan,” said Rudy Ortega, Jr., Tribal President, Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians.

“As a Tongva woman, it’s been my life work to educate people about our history and culture. As an educator, I believe in the need to conduct consultation in order to create a culturally competent curricula throughout LAUSD, that does not further traumatize and contribute to the erasure of our peoples,” said Julia Bogany, Gabrieleno Tongva Cultural Officer. 

Further exacerbating the issue is the COVID-19 global pandemic, which disproportionately impacts Native students within LAUSD; given the lack of adequate programming, resources and staffing designed to address the unique needs of Native American students. The district has not made any data available on how the crisis has impacted Native and Indigenous students, further adding to the historic erasure of Native experiences. 

The complaint highlights, among other evidence, Section 8538 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA or Act), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), that requires that educational agencies (LEA) like the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) “shall consult” with appropriate officials from Indian tribes or tribal organizations approved by tribes prior to the LEA’s submission of a required plan or application for a covered program under the Act, or for a program under Title VI of the Act (relating to Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native Education).
The Act further requires that, “Such consultation must be done in a manner and in such time that provides the opportunity for such appropriate officials from Indian tribes or tribal organizations to meaningfully and substantively contribute to such plan.” (20 U.S.C § 7918.) “Appropriate officials” means tribal officials who are elected, or appointed tribal leaders or officials designated in writing by an Indian tribe for the specific consultation purpose under 20 U.S.C. §7918(c)(2). 

“LAUSD has spent billions of dollars of federal funding and enacted onerous local administrative policies since the adoption of the Every Student Succeeds Act without any tribal consultation. Our action today is a reaffirmation of our self-determination and unity as Indigenous Peoples living in Los Angeles, each with our distinct languages, cultures and nations whose children also have a human right to dignity,” said Marcos Aguilar, Executive Director of Anahuacalmecac World School. 

“Los Angeles County has the largest county population of American Indian and Alaska Native alone-or-in-combination populations (2010 Census) in the entire country, and LAUSD serves hundreds, if not thousands of American Indian/Alaska Native students. For too long, Native students have been overlooked. The district has not adequately invested in Native students for generations. This lack of support can be seen in the limited data that is collected on AI/AN students and the lack of attention given to the systemic failures impacting so many Native students and the community-at large” said Celestina Castillo, Executive Director of California Native Vote Project.   

In response to historic disparity and inequities faced by Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and other Indigenous students, the IEN formed more than one year ago gravely concerned about the health, well-being and future of Indigenous students and how their lives are impacted by public schools. Recognizing the relationship among poverty, mental health, and educational disadvantages in public schooling, the Coalition centers upon student, parent and community voice to address these issues.  

 

About Indigenous Education Now Coalition

The IEN is comprised of the Gabrieleno-Tongva Band of Mission Indians, Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Missions Indians, California Native Vote Project, Anahuacalmecac World School, UCLA American Indian Studies Center, Pukuu Cultural Community Services, United American Indian Involvement Clubhouse, and American Indian Community Council, as well as students, parents and community members from throughout the community. 

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Contact: Jennifer Cuevas
213-375-8714
jeneratemedia@gmail.com