Los Angeles Schools Suspend Campus Filming After Controversy


Only one day after NBC Los Angeles ran a story which portrayed the school district’s procedures pertaining to TV and film productions campus shooting in a bad light, LA Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines has announced that all filming currently taking place in district schools would be suspended.

The suspension comes as a result of a six-month investigation by NBC4 which uncovered a number of hidden costs of allowing filming to take place on school grounds.  According to the I-team, these additional costs include students being late to class, campus interruptions, and damaged equipment, among other things.

Around $2 million is brought into the school system each year as a result of the district’s use by production companies.  All together, the district has made $10 million over the last five years by permitting such filming, which included one pornographic shoot at Alexander Hamilton High School in Los Angeles.

According to district records and filming permits, Hamilton was paid cash by “Revenge of the Petites,” which was released in 2012, for two consecutive Saturdays in October, 2011.  A car wash scene, including public nudity, was also filmed in the front parking lot at the school.

School officials told NBC4 they had not been aware that an adult movie would be filmed at the school.  They added that if they had known, it would not have been allowed.

The district maintains that it was made aware of the goings-on when a parent complained about the shoot.

“The district was made aware at that time that the production company failed to comply with terms of the filming agreement,” said LAUSD spokeswoman Shannon Haber in an email to NBC4. “We immediately notified the production company that it was banned from ever using district facilities again. We also demanded that the company remove any and all images depicting the school or its students from the film.”

Records suggest that Birmingham Community Charter High School in Van Nuys has made the most money from filming in the district, earning as much as $1 million from production companies over the past five years.

In an interview, an administrator for the school told 89.3 KPCC Southern California Public Radio that revenue made from the filming “helps with a lot of extra things like computer labs, band uniforms or our athletic teams.”

However, when NBC4 requested expenditures, they were told by the school’s chief executive Bill Parks that expenses were not coded or tracked.  Instead, such money was taken from a general fund.

“Some years are high, some years are low,” Parks said in the school meeting. “I think right now we are a little above the break-even stage.”

In response, Superintendent Ramon Cortines released a statement, adding that all filming activities would be investigated by the district’s inspector general, writes Howard Blume for The Los Angeles Times.

“It is important that we ensure teaching and learning are not disrupted, and that all filming activity is appropriate for our schools,” said L.A. schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines in a statement released Thursday. “As an organization responsible for educating students, it is essential that we hold ourselves and our schools to a high standard.”