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Official Disbands Advisory Group


Coordinator Tim Faulkner and the community advisory committee to the Los Angeles district's Indian education program have split over the way the program's reduced funds should be spent.

A lack of consensus became a rift earlier this month when Faulkner unexpectedly disbanded the existing advisory group, which opposed his plans for allocating the program's funds.

Faulkner has said that his office will continue to underwrite individualized Indian education programs at 38 district schools, although most of the grants will be smaller than in the past because most schools now have fewer certified students.

Faulkner has also said he is concerned about Indian children, perhaps as many as 50% of those in the district, who attend schools that don't have programs of their own.

To more effectively meet their needs, Faulkner's office is also developing new centralized programs that will travel to schools that request them, Faulkner said. The first, which should be available for the coming school year, is a multimedia program to teach students more about the Plains Indians.

But Alyce L. Murdock of Sylmar, a Navajo and Laguna, and her supporters are distressed that so much of the budget is earmarked for centralized services and to pay Faulkner. The district is picking up a third of Faulkner's $46,693 salary. The rest will be paid out of the federal government's Title IV-A allocation of $131,561.

More of the money should go toward direct services for the children, according to Murdock, a longtime member of the Indian Education Program Central Parent Committee, the advisory group to the program. She and others have proposed that Faulkner's coordinator position be downgraded and funded at a lower salary level.

Murdock and other committee members have said that they would rather see the local program disbanded than to have so much of the money concentrated in the district office.

In an unexpected action earlier this month, Faulkner dismissed the existing, 12-member advisory committee, arguing that the majority of its members were no longer eligible to serve (the teacher member had retired, for example). Therefore, the group lacked a quorum, he said.

Faulkner also argued that the committee was self-perpetuating in that it selects its own members, in violation of a district policy that requires parent advisory committees be chosen by the community.

Faulkner then named a new ad hoc advisory committee that will meet this summer to study the body's bylaws and prepare for the election of a permanent advisory committee before school begins in the fall.

None of the former members are on the new ad hoc committee.

Murdock and other displaced committee members plan to take their case to the Board of Education.

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