LCUSD’s COVID Plan Staves Off Transmissions

First published in the Sept. 16 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

Planning a return to the classroom for in-person instruction in the era of COVID-19 was a daunting task for schools throughout the state during the summer, especially amid the rapid rise of the Delta variant this past month which complicated the matter.
Such concerns prompted Los Angeles and Culver City school districts to implement vaccine mandates that require students 12 and older to be inoculated. L.A. County health officials stated that children under 18 comprised about 27% of positive coronavirus cases from Sept. 2-9. Continue reading “LCUSD’s COVID Plan Staves Off Transmissions”

To Keep Campuses Open, LCUSD Widens Testing for Virus

First published in the Sept. 2 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

At the suggestion of community members and medical experts, the La Cañada Unified School District will update its campus reopening and safety plan and take extra measures to mitigate the possibility of coronavirus transmission on campuses.
The LCUSD Governing Board unanimously approved stricter health protocols recommended by the district staff in a meeting on Monday. Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said the reopening of schools for in-person instruction was “hugely successful but extremely challenging, given the surge of COVID-19 infections as a result of the Delta variant.” Continue reading “To Keep Campuses Open, LCUSD Widens Testing for Virus”

LCUSD Staff Will Calculate Parcel Tax Charge

The La Cañada Unified School District staff is determining an appropriate figure of inflation to Measure LC, the parcel tax that stakeholders voted to renew in March of last year, the district’s Governing Board was told at a virtual meeting Tuesday night.

The measure’s original language called for the tax not to exceed $450 per parcel in the 2020-21 fiscal year and to be adjusted thereafter annually for inflation according to the Consumer Price Index for the Greater Los Angeles area.

Mark Evans, associate superintendent of business and administrative services, had proposed a 1.64% increase that would result in a levy of $457.38 per parcel, which would give the district an additional $39,704 in funding.

Continue reading “LCUSD Staff Will Calculate Parcel Tax Charge”

LCUSD Plan for School Year: More Normal, Still Cautious

The La Cañada Unified School District expects to go back to a full five-day bell schedule for the 2021-22 school year, and Superintendent Wendy Sinnette gave the community a preview of what instruction will look like in the fall, assuming that the coronavirus remains largely at bay.

Sinnette gave a presentation during a virtual LCUSD Governing Board meeting on Tuesday that informed stakeholders and board members of current guidelines from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

LCUSD will reopen with a full schedule on Aug. 16 and current health orders require students and staff to wear masks on campus when indoors, though there are exceptions for special education students. Students and staff will not be required to wear masks outdoors on campus, but Sinnette said employees will encourage students to wash their hands frequently and be socially distanced in the hallways and during lunch.

Continue reading “LCUSD Plan for School Year: More Normal, Still Cautious”

Educators, Students Reflect on Lessons of Pandemic Year

Jane Chang teaches of Palm Crest Elementary School students in person after they returned to campus in March. Like other local educators, she provided only virtual instruction when the academic year began.

Last March, the world was upended by a pandemic that affected people in all walks of life, especially those in education. In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, students, teachers and administrators throughout California were forced to pivot to distance learning, a method of instruction that was not easy for learners.

“Personally, for me it was a pretty negative experience,” said Miye Sugino, a rising senior at La Cañada High School. “I don’t think it’s because of the way the school handled it. It was just not good for me to be at home all the time. I missed the ability to interact in real life.

“It was just a really difficult year in terms of general motivation and very limited screen team because the teacher’s presence isn’t the same, but that’s not their fault. It was the best they could do.”

Continue reading “Educators, Students Reflect on Lessons of Pandemic Year”

LCUSD Diversity Plan Takes 
a Step Forward

After much work, deliberation and delay, the La Cañada Unified School District took a monumental step in its diversity, equity and inclusion initiative and is ready to push forward the plan that has been in the works since last August.

The LCUSD Governing Board unanimously adopted two documents pertaining to DEI during a virtual meeting on Tuesday, including one that details the district’s objectives, guiding principles, DEI definitions and commitment statement.

Continue reading “LCUSD Diversity Plan Takes 
a Step Forward”

Letters to the Editor

LCUSD Leaders ‘Clarify the Record’

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion in our community about the school district’s work on the topic of diversity, equity and inclusion. We are grateful for the level of interest and appreciate all those who have offered their perspectives.
In addition to the many strong opinions expressed, however, there have also been many facts asserted or implied that we believe are at odds with reality in a way that might create confusion or even needless anxiety. We write today to help clarify the record, so that thoughtful and productive debate and community input can continue on solid, factual footing.
It is not accurate that the district is acting impulsively or superficially. Our current work on this topic has been underway since before the 2019-20 school year, and has involved public goal setting, workshops, surveys, focus groups and trainings. It is also far from done. The district will next create a committee that is broadly representative of the community to help identify top priorities for next steps. The board voted unanimously to incorporate this work into this school year’s superintendent’s goals to ensure that it continues with the highest degree of accountability and excellence.
Continue reading “Letters to the Editor”

LCUSD Diversity Ideas Prompt Dissent, Calls for Caution

More than a month after a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant presented her extensive findings to the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board, and a week after the LCUSD entrusted Superintendent Wendy Sinnette with overseeing progress on DEI, parents and community members have galvanized over the matter — some in opposition.
Two LCUSD Governing Board members, President Joe Radabaugh and Kaitzer Puglia, have been tabbed to lead a committee that will help frame DEI initiatives, which ultimately will fall to the entire board to approve or not.
In a combined statement last week, Sinnette and Radabaugh emphasized there will be more involved discussion on the topic of any DEI objectives and priorities, saying:
“We listen carefully to all voices in the community and strive for the best possible outcomes. One of the consistent things we heard related to DEI is that we seek more in-depth community input on the objectives and priorities before we finalize and the board approves. We agree with that feedback and feel a DEI committee comprised of a cross-section of the community is a critical means to that end.”
Continue reading “LCUSD Diversity Ideas Prompt Dissent, Calls for Caution”

LCUSD Deliberates on 2020-21 School Year

In a regular meeting of the La Cañada School District Governing Board on Tuesday, Superintendent Wendy Sinnette tackled an update on what many students and families have been anxiously — and with trepidation — waiting to hear: What the future of learning holds in La Cañada Flintridge.
In short, Sinnette summed up, nobody is certain on a plan, but the district is working hard to create various scenarios on how it intends to open the 2020-21 school year, with possible options including staggered student schedules though an “a.m. or p.m.” possibility or even alternating days. Whatever approach is considered and decided upon, Sinnette said, she will be informing the LCUSD community as it happens.
“I know everyone is listening to the news and I think we all have more questions than answers right now,” the superintendent said, “but [we] are creating timelines for plan implementation; we are engaged in educational research looking at all kinds of options, we are identifying strengths and limitations of various scenarios, and so I want our community to be rest assured there is in-depth research taking place and we will begin to communicate in a transparent fashion all of our plan development over the next weeks and months.
Continue reading “LCUSD Deliberates on 2020-21 School Year”

LCUSD: Lawsuit by Students Alleging Racism ‘Resolved’

A lawsuit filed by the families of four former La Cañada High School students last year alleging racial discrimination on the part of La Cañada Unified School District, site administration and an LCHS teacher in relation to an alleged student cheating incident has been resolved, LCUSD Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said in a statement Wednesday.
“There was no monetary settlement provided by the district or its representative agencies in this matter,” Sinnette said.
The lawsuit, filed in September 2019, was related to discipline issued regarding an alleged coordinated cheating effort on a test in an Advanced Placement European history class in October 2018. In the civil complaint that was obtained by The Outlook and is public record, four students and their guardians accused LCHS’ principal and a history teacher of helping enact a “covert and systemic policy of discrimination against Korean students.” The student plaintiffs received zeros as discipline and were required to essentially drop the class after it was claimed that they cheated on the test.
LCUSD said that as part of resolving the lawsuit, each of the four students signed a document that effectively retracts and denies all claims of racism by any LCUSD employees.
Continue reading “LCUSD: Lawsuit by Students Alleging Racism ‘Resolved’”