About Us

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History

Sparked by a parent engagement grant from ARCO in 2005, The Parent Organization Network was founded with a mission to connect, empower, and mobilize parents and parent organizations across the greater Los Angeles area to improve academic outcomes and the quality of education. Already deeply committed to parent engagement, the network started as a joint program of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (now Asian Americans Advancing Justice | LA), the Los Angeles Urban League (LAUL), and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). The three organizations believed in a collaborative multicultural approach to assessing educational issues, planning, and executing solutions.


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Vision and Mission

PON envisions a public school system transformed by highly engaged parents actively working with school officials to provide a high-quality educational experience tailored to students needs and community priorities; where public schools value parents as equal partners and instrumental collaborators in making decisions an effecting positive change in school.

We foresee achieving our vision by strengthening the abilities of culturally underserved parents to be trainers and leaders, supporting their local initiatives and advocacy efforts, and connecting them to a broader network of committed individuals and organizations so together they can effect long-term systemic changes resulting in high quality education for all.

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Guiding Principles and Program Model

We believe that our parent programs will be stronger and more successful by:  a) Building alignment and common ground; b) Being solution and outcome oriented; c) Using evidence-based strategies; d) Creating authentic partnerships among parents, schools, and other organizations working to enhance parent engagement and improve schools.

The PON model is based on the belief that concerned and impassioned parents can effect school change when provided with relevant data, leadership skills, practice an support.  To this end, PON works with other local organizations to identify parents eager to obtain these tools.  PON is expanding on its current model of training, networking, and support to build a tiered and inclusive approach that will build a larger base of skilled parent leaders.

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PON's Committee Structure

Each PON individual or organizational member joins a committee of choice as a way to integrate their talents and skills. These committees are:

Capacity Building:  Develop tools, training, and resources to orient new members and assess their skills, gauge goals and interests; update members on research, education laws and policies; and prepare and transition leaders to implementation and advocacy projects.


Advocacy:  Advocate for policies and practices that would help establish effective parent engagement in schools and/or remove systemic barriers hindering it. This advocacy may happen at the local, county, or state level. Activities may include: leading research projects, analyzing policy, and developing campaigns to advance equity and excellence for underserved students


Monitoring, Implementation and Impact:  Support members and school districts with implementation of policies and plans and monitoring impact on students over time. Activities may include: engaging in data analysis, serving on committees, helping develop plans and budgets, learning, advocating for and modeling effective engagement practices.


Growing and Sustaining Networks:  Develop strategies to strengthen relationships among members to increase collaboration and mutual support on initiatives; recruit and retain committed, diverse members and partners; promote the network’s and individual members’ campaigns, initiatives, learnings, and successes; and assess the networks strengths, challenges, and needs to calibrate trainings, advocacy, and network priorities.

Capacity Building

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Orientation to New Members

To learn about the network, our current priorities, ways to participate and engage with partners and about upcoming events.

Leadership and Personal Development Training

To strengthen soft and technical skills to work effectively with others.  Some trainings we have offered to members in the past include: 

- 16 hours on communication skills, conflict resolution, and restorative justice provided by Leadership Development in Intergroup Relations and Partnership for Los Angeles Schools

- Presentation on Parental Resilience

- Computer literacy training

Training on Education-Related Topics

To be prepared when engaging school officials and decision-makers, PON provides ongoing training on law updates. Examples of training we have offered in the past:

-  Common Core Standards

-  Local Control Funding Formula

-  Community Engagement and the Local Control & Accountability Plan

-  Every Student Succeeds Act

-  California’s K-12 School Accountability System and the Dashboard

-  Community Engagement Initiative

Technical Assistance

To help parents and groups develop a plan, achieve a goal or project, or resolve a problem.  Some of our services include:

- Data analysis to inform plans 

- Monitoring students’ academic progress

- Coaching and guidance to address and resolve concerns with school staff

Conferences & Institutes

To support parent leader’s growth and local work by connecting them to other parent groups, learn new ideas and about other issues that may be affecting their communities.  Some conferences and institutes we have sponsored in the past include:

- Vision & Compromiso’s Annual Conferencewhere parents learn about the health promoter model, effective outreach strategies, and network with community leaders.

- Latinos In Action’s Annual Women Conferencewhere parents learn about personal development, are exposed to motivational speakers, and learn about the topics related to the theme of the conference

Online-Training to Respond to Mental Health Needs of Immigrants. Ten parents completed a 143-hour online training provided by Mexican universities.

Advocacy

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Developing the Community Engagement Initiative so Schools & Communities Can Work Together

In 2018, Governor Brown and the California State Legislature approved $13.3 million dollars for a Community Engagement Initiative.  The statewide LCFF coalition PON is a member of persuaded state leaders to approve $13.3 million dollars, a one-time fund, for the Community Engagement Initiative (CEI). The CEI is an effort to build capacity in school communities so they can facilitate difficult conversations to improve education. The fund will expand the number of Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) over the years. 

To learn more about this initiative visit: 

· The Community Engagement Initiative

· Statewide Community Engagement Initiative

Evolving the Local Indicator for Family Engagement

Family engagement is one of eight state priorities that are measured and monitored at the school district level.  To assess progress, school districts reflect on their system for family engagement annually. The new tool:

· Engages school staff and families to reflect together to inform school and district plans and budgets

· Is aligned to state and federal law, family engagement frameworks, and research-based practices.

· Builds upon school climate surveys.

· Will help develop the state develop its System of Support for Family Engagement.

Updating Volunteer Policies to Allow for Maximum Family Participation

Recommendations:

-  Develop a tier system that differentiates volunteer positions that require fingerprinting and those that don’t; 

-  Facilitate access for TB testing; 

-  Warn immigrant parents about the risks of submitting fingerprints to the Department of Justice and the FBI; and

-  Provide training for volunteers and staff implementing the volunteer program to ensure uniformity across the district.

To see two volunteer policy samples, see:


Pasadena Unified School District


Los Angeles Unified School District


ACLU Flyer about warning to Immigrant Parents

Reforming the Uniform Complaint Procedure (UCP)

In 2017, the State Auditor released findings on the audit

Recommendations to Improve the UCP Process: 

-  Simplify the process and improving access for users;

-  Address issues of timelines for investigation which create long delays in resolving complaints;

-  Track data and report it;

-  Provide training to districts to conduct thorough investigations; 

-  Improve enforcement by CDE; 

-  Clarify that administrative remedies under UCP is not required for parties to file a suit; and 

-  Ensure there is an independent office overseeing the complaint process with authority to enforce solutions.

Current Practices that Uphold Deficit-Oriented Beliefs of Parents

In 2016 the PON released a report on LAUSD’sissuance of ‘Disruptive Person Letters’to parents, which bans parents from their children’s schools indefinitely without due process.  Oftentimes the letter is issued to parents when they advocate for their children’s educational rights and when school staff interprets the interaction as a disruption or safety threat.  The letter is also referred to by other names such as “Stay Away” or “Limited Access” letters.

To learn download a copy of the report click here. To learn more about outcomes at the district and state level, see the “Monitoring Implementation and Impact” Section.

Monitoring Implementation and Impact

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Helping School Districts Develop the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP)

The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) law was signed in 2013 and changed how schools are funded by increasing funding for students with higher needs: low-income, English Learners, and foster youth.  It also established 8 state priorities in education and required engaging stakeholders to identify local needs and develop a three-year plan known as Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP).  The LCAP describes the goals, actions, services, and expenditures that aim to achieve greater student outcomes based on local and state priorities. The LCAP is a tool to share how, what, and why programs and services are selected to meet their needs. 

PON members participate in the LCAP in:

·  Los Angeles Unified School District, 

·  Long Beach Unified School District, 

·  Lynwood Unified School, 

·  Pomona Unified School District, and 

Whittier City School District

Professional Learning Network (PLNs)

As part of the state’s effort to build capacity in school districts to strengthen practice, PON was selected to facilitate a Professional Learning Network over two years.

The PON PLN is focused on building relationships to foster peer learning, building knowledge on family and community engagement theory and practice, and strengthen continuous improvement cycles.  Staff from Azusa Unified School Districts, Lynwood Unified School Districts, Pasadena Unified School District, and Whittier City School District have met since September 2017 on a monthly basis.  

To learn more about what they have learned, please see evaluation from the first year. 

Mediation Training to Resolve Conflict Between School Principals and Parents

After PON released a report on LAUSD’s issuance of ‘Disruptive Person Letters’ to parents in 2016, the district established an appeals process; tracks the number of letters issued; and in 2017, the LAUSD Board passed a resolution titled “Increasing Trust and Strengthening Relations Between Schools and Parents”  The resolution required developing a pilot program to equip district administrators to mediate conflict between principals and parents. 

8-hour Training on Conflict Resolution 

· SessionI – Aims to change mindsets about conflict and how to resolve it. It provides a theorical foundation of human relations, how trauma impacts response to conflict, customer service, restorative justice and empathic listening.

· Session II– Is focused on practice with role plays, scenarios discussions, and seeing RJ harm circles demonstrations.

The sessions are led by psychologists, social workers, and specialists on human relations and diversity, and restorative justice.  The training was piloted in 2018 in two local districts with administrators and the training should be available to remaining local district administrators in 2019.

Challenging Parent Bans from Schools in Court

Legal partners challenged these bans in two U.S. District Courts; one case was dismissed and is being appealed and in the other case the court ruled that school officials may not indefinitely ban parents from their child’s school as retaliation for free speech or without opportunity to contest. The 9thCircuit Court of Appeals will be deciding the issue in Spring 2019.

Growing and Sustaining Networks

Assessing Community Needs

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PON carries out activities to engage the members in assessing the community’s needs

Strengthening Relationships

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PON strives to strengthen relationships and improve communication among members

Promoting Initiatives

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PON promotes the members’ campaigns and initiatives, and recruit new members

Annual Women's Conference

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Latinos In Action 

Annual Women’s Conference

Resilient and Strong Parents

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Resilient Parents, Strong Families Event Co-Hosted with El Concilio de Padres de Highland Park

Strong Parents, Stronger Families

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Informed Parents, Stronger Families & Schools Event Co-Hosted with Gente Organizada

PON Organizations

The African American Parent/Community Coalition for Educational Equity

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The African American Parent/Community Coalition for Educational Equity’s (AAP/CCEE) mission is to educate and empower parents of underserved children by building their capacity to advocate, access and ensure an equitable education for their children and collectively facilitate sustainable education reform for all children to close the opportunity and achievement gap. 

Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles

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Our mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders and to create a more equitable and harmonious society.

CADRE

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Our mission is to solidify and advance parent leadership to ensure that all children are rightfully educated regardless of where they live. We seek to effect policy change and mobilize political will through new parent participation models that preserve and expand the right to education for all South LA children and youth.

Los Angeles Education Partnership

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Our mission is to work as a collaborative partner in high-poverty communities to foster great schools that support the personal and academic success of children and youth from birth through high school.

Los Angeles Urban League

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The mission of the League is to enable African Americans and other minorities to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights through advocacy activities and the provision of programs and services in our uniquely diversified city and region.

Latinos in Action - California

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Nuestra misión es potenciar y enriquecer la vida de los jóvenes y las familias a través de la educación, la salud y la seguridad en los vecindarios. Trabajando juntos, podemos construir y mantener relaciones sanas, armoniosas, pacíficas y respetar la diversidad cultural.

Lynwood Save Our Students

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Lynwood Save Our Students (LSOS) is a grassroots parent and community organization established in 1996 dedicated to improving the academic performance and educational achievement of ALL Lynwood students

MALDEF

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Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the “law firm of the Latino community”, MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access

Padres Activos

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Our mission is to improve student achievement by developing and implementing effective strategies to strengthen parent voice including: building capacity, advocacy, ombudsman services, resource referral, and community projects.

Parent Pioneros

Work together with schools to develop parents’ leadership and advocacy capacity for the purpose of attaining high levels of academic achievement for students and promoting respect for diversity.

PROedu

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Our mission is to inform parents and strengthen their skills as conscious and committed leaders to improving the outcomes of their families, schools, and communities.

El Concilio de Padres de Highland Park

To awaken the Learning Spirit of every student in the Highland Park area and to strengthen parent and student socio-emotional bond.

Watts/Century Latino Organization

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Founded in 1990, the Watts/Century Latino Organization (WCLO) is a non-profit, community-based organization dedicated to supporting the development of healthy neighborhoods and self-sufficient families.  

Team

Araceli Simeon

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Araceli Simeón has served the PON as Project Director for five years and oversees all programmatic aspects of the network.  Prior to PON, Araceli worked for a decade at MALDEF directing its national Parent School Partnership (PSP) program that trains parents to become advocates for their children. She has also served as consultant for the Center for the Study of Social Policy, a contractor of First 5 LA to support its Best Start Program, a placed-based initiative in Los Angeles County to build supportive communities where children and families can thrive. She graduated from the California State Polytechnic University, at Pomona, received her master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Southern California.

Dr. Joyce G. Watts

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Dr. Joyce G. Watts is a PON Committee Chair and Interim Executive Director of The Village Nation, an educational nonprofit recognized nationally as a facilitator of school transformation with a focus on African American youth.  She chairs the PON Monitoring Implementation and Impact Committee and is a thought partner in designing policy advocacy and implementation monitoring projects. Dr. Watts is an educator who has served at every level from elementary through grad school. She became a classroom teacher and instructional advisor for multicultural and bilingual education and returned to the university to complete an MA and specialist credential in bilingual/cross-cultural education.

Maria Rosales

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Maria Rosales is a PON Committee Chair and leader of a grassroots parent group called PRO-Edu.  She chairs the PON Capacity Building Committee.  Her role is to co-design and facilitate trainings for the PON membership.  She has about 20 years of experience training and developing parent leaders in various schools and nonprofits and was formerly a teacher in Guatemala.

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Parent Organization Network

1145 Wilshire Blvd., 2nd Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90017, US

(626) 991-1610

Hours

Monday - Friday: 9am - 5pm

Saturday: By appointment

Sunday: Closed