Local Political Sign Theft Seen as ‘Sad,’ ‘Unfortunate’

The removal of campaign signs also was experienced by campaigns in the 2017 City Council election, with supporters for then-candidate Keith Eich reporting a slew of missing placards from their yards. Later, it was discovered that storm debris collectors had taken at least some of those signs.

The race involving four candidates for two seats on the La Cañada Flintridge Unified School District Governing Board has been marred by the theft of political signs from residential yards, a trend mirrored — and widely discussed on social media — across nearby municipalities ahead of the national, state and local elections on Nov. 3.
All of the LCUSD board candidates have reportedly had signs stolen or defaced since campaigning began, and though Sgt. Ed Retamoza of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station confirmed authorities have received multiple reports, he could not confirm a total. The crime is considered petty theft, he added.

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Signs Depicting Hate Speech Spark Debate

Photo courtesy La Cañada BLM
Six signs displaying racist hate speech that were left at the Town Center recently were said to quote some of the hateful slurs current or former LCUSD students have heard.

A group of signs that recently were displayed at La Cañada Flintridge Town Center depict racist and hurtful slurs that La Cañada High School students say they have heard and that students have also anonymously posted to the Instagram page at racism_at_lchs, a local activist group said.
The signs were left near the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Angeles Crest Highway after a La Cañada BLM demonstration and were taken down the next morning by Town Center staff.
According to a statement by La Cañada BLM, which was formed as part of a local outcry after George Floyd died while in police custody in Minneapolis in May, the messages on cardboard were left by current or former LCUSD students.

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City Council Balks at Allowing Short-Term Rentals

The discourse over short-term rentals in La Cañada Flintridge will continue for the foreseeable future after the City Council made no decision on the issue during a virtual meeting on Tuesday.
Council members — except for Mayor Pro Tem Jonathan Curtis, who recused himself from the discussion — mulled a proposed ordinance, given preliminary approval by the Planning Commission earlier this month, that would permit and regulate short-term rentals.
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Governing Board Candidates Report on Donations

Jeremiah Arnold, one of four candidates looking to nab one of two open seats on the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board, raised more than $27,500 in campaign contributions through the most recent reporting period, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder’s Office.
Arnold’s campaign coffers, according to documents recording donations made through Sept. 19, were bolstered by a $9,500 loan from himself and about $2,700 in non-monetary contributions — such as bumper stickers and yard signs paid for by supporters. His campaign had also spent the most money for that period, with much of the approximately $15,600 — which also includes non-monetary contributions — going to advertising, including a rented billboard.
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Meet the State, Federal Candidates

La Cañada Flintridge voters will elect representatives to a variety of positions on Nov. 3, with candidates vying for local, state and federal seats. Congressman Adam Schiff, a Democrat, is aiming to represent California’s 28th District in the U.S. House of Representatives for another two years, with Republican and attorney Eric Early challenging his incumbency.
For the California Assembly, Democrat Laura Friedman is set on continuing to represent the 43rd Assembly District for another two years. The assemblywoman is facing Republican Mike Graves in the race. The candidates, with the exception of Graves, who did not respond to emails from the Outlook Valley Sun, have provided statements explaining why they believe they should receive residents’ votes.

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LCF Will Get a Vote Center, After All

L.A. County agreed to make the La Cañada Unified School District offices located at 4490 Cornishon Ave. a vote center, allowing residents to vote in person in the board room from Oct. 30-Nov. 3.

La Cañada Flintridge residents will no longer have to trek to La Crescenta or Altadena to vote in person for the Nov. 3 election. City officials announced on Tuesday that the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder’s Office signed a site agreement with the La Cañada Unified School District for a five-day vote center.
“With the change in how the county allocates vote centers around Southern California, I think it is important that La Cañada Flintridge has a vote center located in town,” said LCF Mayor Mike Davitt. “We want people to vote and want to create all reasonable avenues to assist people in that process. I’m appreciative of all the work that the city staff has committed to this priority, and it appears we have been successful.”

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Letters to the Editor

DEI Should Be Part of a Whole Education
DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) is necessary, and I am counting on LCUSD to provide a “world-class education” for my children. In order to do that, we need to think outside the box and intentionally enlist different perspectives from people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We need to be prepared for the world with true knowledge about how the world works (good and bad). We are all capable of greatness; we just need the opportunity.
We have an ugly history, but why not truly learn about it so we don’t repeat history. Recently, I read a survey of high school graduates from all over the country about their U.S. history experience and they reported that it provided breadth but no depth. I know this from my own experience with the new science standards because they create a space for students to think and be inquisitive about everything. This is especially important in our world today.
My experience in science shows me we need to change who the pioneers are that we learn about in all fields, but especially STEM. It took until 2016 to learn about “Hidden Figures,” the Black women who were hired as human computers that helped us get to the moon. In 2017, “Rise of the Rocket Girls” told the world of the women who helped create JPL and worked on America’s first ballistic missiles and space exploration. STEM fields still struggle to recruit and retain women, and this starts at the elementary level and society.
DEI is not a political issue, it’s a human issue. Learning, growing, evolving is necessary and making it part of our education is imperative. The information is out there to help LCUSD make a difference in providing our students a more diverse and inclusive perspective, a well-rounded experience, so they can go out and be the change we need in society, not the problem. When we include DEI as part of education, we will empower our children to be the best version of themselves and help them be ready for their future.

Amy Nespor, Ph.D.
La Cañada Flintridge

Dispelling the Myths of DEI
DEI should not be dividing our community. We need to understand that DEI is not scary or threatening.
Some myths dispelled:
1) DEI does not equal affirmative action for our children. We are a public school, educating children in our community. There are no slots allotted for outsiders based on race and DEI will not do this.
2) This is not about bringing outsiders in. DEI is not about busing or scholarships. We are a public school. This is about those of us who are here being heard, feeling welcome and safe.
3) This is about making sure our histories are told. I want my kids to learn about Mamie Tape, not at the exclusion of what is usually taught, but to include these stories.
4) The DEI report from Christina Hale-Elliott focused on 2 things: 1) stop fostering a fear of silence (we need to be able to speak up when people are racist, sexist, etc.) and 2) hire more people of color to reflect our racial composition (in LC it’s 30% Asian). This means that when my kids are told to “go back to where they came from” — especially if it comes from a prominent community member’s child — other children and teachers will be empowered to say “that’s racist” and not fear for their job or backlash from other kids. It means hiring more Asians in leadership positions and making sure that Latinos are not only in food services and grounds maintenance.
5) Restorative justice in our community means that when students in our school district call other students demeaning names, our district will facilitate the two groups sitting together and discussing why such behavior is hurtful and harmful. This is the alternative to expulsion or suspension. It is already being done at many other prominent schools, such as Poly. This practice has simply been given a name and now that name is being used by people who want to engender fear.
I urge you to think about who you will be voting for in our local election. We need people to unify our community — no matter where you fall on the political spectrum. Any spread of misinformation is a dirty tactic to divide us.

Patty Whong
LCHS class of 1993

Epstein Knows the Power of Local, Sustainable Funding for Schools
In a state like California where tax revenues and subsequent funding for public schools can fluctuate dramatically from year to year, it is imperative that public school districts have reliable and local means to supplement public funding. As someone who has spearheaded local parcel tax efforts in support of our public schools, I know first-hand how important and how challenging these initiatives can be — requiring a 2/3 majority of voters to sign on.
Just over six months ago, Josh Epstein served as co-chair of our most recent parcel tax campaign. Under his leadership, this initiative passed with a 70% majority, raising in perpetuity about $2.5 million per year for our public schools. Prior to this successful ballot measure, Josh also co-chaired the 2017 bond measure, which generated $149 million in locally controlled funding, without increasing the current tax rate, to repair and update classrooms and school facilities, and help qualify LCUSD for state matching funds.
These campaigns are a true labor of love. Love for the community and love for our schools. Josh Epstein has the passion and love for our schools and our community to be the best choice for a position on the LCUSD Governing Board.

Barry Reed
Chair, 2009 and 2014 LCUSD Parcel Tax Committees

Support Arnold on Behalf of the Kids
Nineteen years ago when my husband and I were deciding where to buy a house and raise a family, there was no doubt that it was going to be La Cañada. We have loved raising our kids here for the schools, the community and the friends we have made. We have been very involved from the start with our time and resources and are proud of LCUSD and all that it has accomplished and strives to do for its students. I want this tradition of excellence to continue, and that is why I am writing in support of Jeremiah Arnold.
I had the fortunate opportunity to meet with Jeremiah about a month ago. I could not be happier that I took the time. He immediately impressed me with his story that included struggles and triumphs in school, work and family. He is a successful businessman who knows the importance of fiscal responsibility, is a strong negotiator, works well with others and knows how to quickly ascertain what is working and what is not. But what really struck me was how humble he is. It is rare to find an individual who has accomplished all that he has but remains humble. All of these attributes are what we need on our school board: a goal-oriented, clear-thinking person who will not lose sight of what is important for the kids. This is the kind of person our school board needs.
Jeremiah’s vision for LCUSD is perfectly aligned with what makes LCUSD so great … academic excellence where all students feel safe to share different points of view, heritage, experiences, etc., so that all students can become critical thinkers and responsible citizens of their community, country and world. This is why my parents moved here in 1973 and why my husband and I moved here in 2002, and I have no doubt that this is what every parent strives for in this community. The kids need someone like Jeremiah working every day to ensure they are receiving the best education possible in the best possible environment. He has proven through his success as an entrepreneur that he works very well with others to accomplish goals. Jeremiah Arnold is absolutely our best choice for school board. Please join me in supporting him so that our kids will continue to receive an excellent education in an environment that fosters growth. Our kids need us!

Julie Milbrodt
La Cañada Flintridge

Endorsing Caroline Anderson for School Board
In the La Cañada School Board election, one candidate stands out to me for the depth of her involvement and commitment to our schools and our community, and I wanted to take this opportunity to share my support for Caroline Anderson for school board.
In reviewing her history as it relates to the support of our schools, it is nothing short of amazing: from her hands-on classroom support as a room parent for many years; to her involvement with the PTA (currently serving as president at Palm Crest Elementary); and her ongoing work with the La Cañada Educational Foundation as a board member for six years, president, and gala chair, and so, so many other positions and contributions too numerous to list.
I cannot think of anyone more involved in multiple aspects of our schools. However, her volunteerism and contributions to La Cañada Flintridge go beyond her work for the school district. Her outreach extends beyond LCUSD to our community at large.
I met Caroline when I was running for City Council and I was immediately impressed by her energy, organizational skills, and “let’s get it done” attitude, backed up by her hard work! I felt so fortunate to have her as part of my team. Her outreach into our community was obvious and she clearly had the respect of those who knew her and had worked beside her and I feel fortunate to consider myself part of that group. Having grown up in La Cañada Flintridge, she has a deep-rooted feel for our community and an extensive network, which you all know is extremely valuable when trying to further advance the quality of our schools.
In addition, as a Chinese American and active member of the La Cañada Chinese Club, her representation of our Chinese families brings a welcome diversity to our school board and can play a vital role in further engaging the Chinese community in our schools and in our city.
As a City Councilwoman, I believe the City Council and the school board enjoy a very productive and mutually supportive working relationship, which is so important to the cohesiveness of our community. Having worked with Caroline, I feel confident that her election to the board would further enhance that relationship, and I would more than welcome the opportunity to work with her.
I cannot imagine another candidate with Caroline’s proven track record of hard work and dedication to not only our schools but to our community as a whole. She is up for this challenge and has the background and experience to be a contributing and impactful member of the school board. It is my sincere pleasure and honor to endorse Caroline for school board, and I strongly urge you to join me in voting for Caroline.

Terry Walker
La Cañada Flintridge
City Councilwoman

Candidate Josh Epstein Is a Community Builder
My husband Ali and I came to La Cañada Flintridge in 2008, when our son was just a baby and the world came into sharp focus, as it tends to when we become parents. We knew that LCF schools enjoyed a strong reputation, which prompted our home search here and this gem of a community, so small-town peaceful and so un-L.A., captured our hearts the moment we took the exit at Foothill.
This sense of community that sold us on LCF does not happen by accident. The actual community that powers our everyday lives is here because there are those working hard at making LCF what it is. It is the volunteers who coach the teams, den and troop leaders, PTA, LCFEF, and many others who make up the army of doers in this community, all working toward building and sustaining LCF. That coming together of community is responsible for what LCF promises to all of us, a fantastic place to live for our families and excellent schools for our children.
Josh Epstein is an especially notable community builder, who has worked tirelessly at making sure that our schools offer outstanding opportunities to our kids. For the last decade, he has been involved in every major part of the system that supports our schools on a leadership level. In these roles, Josh has enthusiastically dedicated his time to advocating for the students of this district.
On a personal level, Josh is thoughtful, principled and considerate. He’s not one to be in the front, talking the loudest, but when he does speak, he conveys an astute understanding of the issues, a deliberate and conscientious approach, and the willingness to be open to all perspectives. His empathy and appreciation for nuance contributes a valuable voice to district matters on behalf of all students. Join me and the many La Cañadans who know and believe in Josh. He is the most capable candidate, and he is the clear choice for LCUSD School Board.

Sunyoung Fahimi
La Cañada Flintridge
Former member of LCFEF Executive Board and LCFEF
Endowment Board of Trustees

Jeremiah Arnold for School Board

Of all the choices voters are required to make this November, one stands out as having a tangible, definitive impact on this community: Which individual will the citizens of La Cañada Flintridge elect to the school board?
La Cañada is fortunate to have talented and respected board members and school administrators. However, even the best organizations are prone to suffer from groupthink and a, “this is how it’s always been” bias where a new perspective is warranted. Some examples include:
Despite execrable restrooms, outdated classrooms and enough discarded chewing gum on school property to sink the Titanic, the top priority for bond monies is … a pool.
Given the COVID pandemic and the daily challenge students and parents face from distance learning, a top 2020-21 priority is implantation of a “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” program.
Significant gaps in instruction exist, particularly with the high school math program, which results in students eschewing higher level coursework and parents spending large sums on tutors.
While not an indictment against what is largely a solid school district, it’s clear an outside voice with fresh ideas is warranted. To this end La Cañada should elect Jeremiah Arnold. Having spoken at length with Jeremiah and heard others speak about him, it’s clear that he will bring a new voice and new ideas to the district.
With this election, what happens in Washington, D.C., is important, but what happens in La Cañada is far more so. Elect Jeremiah Arnold to make this occur.

Andy Decker
La Cañada Flintridge

Epstein Has Positive Vision for Schools
There are few things more important in our community than our public schools, so I take the upcoming school board election very seriously. With all the challenges currently facing our schools, and the growing tensions in our society, I think it is important to be especially scrupulous this year about how we cast our ballots in this important election.
Candidates should be able to articulate a positive vision for our schools, but that’s not enough. They should also be able to demonstrate their ability to turn that vision into a reality. It concerns me when I see a candidate stoke agitation around issues, but who cannot provide evidence of the work they’ve ever done to address those concerns prior to running a political campaign.
But longevity isn’t everything. I’m also skeptical when I see candidates who have been involved in our schools for many years, but still lack that positive track record. School board members must be independent thinkers and analytical. They must persuade one another, district leadership and the community if they are to effect any change or provide real leadership. No matter how hard-working, well-intentioned or right a single school board member may be, our students are not served if that individual cannot bring people together and move the district in the right direction.
That’s why I’ve ultimately decided to vote for Josh Epstein. Josh represents exactly what our school district needs right now. We know he has the capacity to work with every part of our community to serve the kids of La Cañada Flintridge, because he’s done that. He doesn’t just go along to get along. He pushes the district to improve — and then he is a productive partner in bringing that improvement to fruition. He will be a huge asset to the district, so please mark your ballot for Josh Epstein.

Paris Cohen
La Cañada Flintridge

Best Candidates for Our Students

After speaking with school board candidates, watching their public interviews and reviewing their public statements, I believe that our school district will be best served by Josh Epstein and Belinda Randolph. Both candidates are knowledgeable, informed, transparent, and have offered concrete solutions about steps that should be taken to make our school district a better school district for all of its stakeholders and, most importantly, for all of its students. I am proud to formally endorse Josh and Belinda.

Kim Hershman
La Cañada Flintridge

LCUSD Governing Board Candidates’ Statements

Caroline Anderson
Caroline Anderson

I am honored to run for a seat on the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board. I grew up in the Sagebrush area of La Cañada Flintridge, and as a longtime resident, I am proud to be an active leader in this community.
When it came time for my husband, Marcotte, and I to purchase a home and raise our family, it was an obvious choice to settle in La Cañada Flintridge. I am grateful that our two sons who are in 6th and 7th grades are able to attend LCUSD schools to learn in one of the top districts in the state. As homeowners, we know our collective real estate values benefit from outstanding schools. As parents, we see that an exceptional public school education is invaluable.
We are fortunate to have partners who support our students — from local businesses to PTAs, school booster groups, teachers, staff and the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation, among many others. I’ve built enduring relationships with stakeholders through years of leadership roles volunteering in our community, including six years on the Educational Foundation’s board. I understand how vital these relationships and organizations are to our schools’ well-being.
I am running for school board to protect and advance our community’s culture of educational excellence. I bring empathy, service and innovative thinking to this important policy-making role, and I’ll be a vocal supporter of our kids and our schools. I am distinct from current school board members and the other candidates as the only mom with children attending LCUSD. Being a mom allows me to see and feel the impact of challenges firsthand, a vital perspective as we toggle between virtual and on-campus learning depending on how the pandemic unfolds.
As the current PTA President at Palm Crest Elementary School, my top priority is to ensure our students and families stay connected to each other and to the school. I have worked to reimagine programs and coordinated fundraising efforts to offset the impact of budgetary shortfalls for our elementary students. As a parent representative on our district’s reopening committee for grades 7-12 students, I have emphasized the importance of a safe return to in-person learning while simultaneously bolstering students’ social/emotional wellbeing. This passion is why I am proud of my work as a past president of the Educational Foundation, spearheading a campaign to raise funds for LCHS’ Wellness Center.
I respectfully ask for your support and your vote Nov. 3 as we move forward, building our future together. Visit my website for more information, carolineforlcusd.com.

Jeremiah Arnold
Jeremiah Arnold

As a father of two children at La Cañada Elementary, I am fully invested in the success of our schools and committed to honoring our district’s legacy of educational excellence. My priorities are as follows:
1.) La Cañada Flintridge. I have heard our community derided as a bubble implying insularity, but I see La Cañada Flintridge as a shining beacon. Most of us were drawn here by the high-performing schools. As parents, we share a devotion to our children achieving their maximum potential. Our schools launch kids into the finest colleges and into an array of careers around the globe. Our community builds leaders. It is a beacon, not a bubble.
2.) Future of Education. Technology is our current and future reality. I spent my career in the technology industry, and I am fully qualified (and excited) to leverage these skills to benefit our children and teachers. While no amount of technology replaces an excellent teacher, we are obligated to harness the power of technology to maintain our legacy of educational excellence.
3.) Equity Defined. I grew up in the inner-city of Los Angeles in an ethnically diverse family. I experienced socioeconomic challenges as a minority at underperforming schools. As a result of the perspective my childhood experiences provided, I love and appreciate the diverse and inclusive community built around our schools. However, I also understand and appreciate the importance of equal opportunity versus the false pursuit of equitable outcomes. This is a conversation I invite you to have with me.
4.) Special Education. As a parent of a child with special needs, I will always advocate for ALL students to ensure they are able to reach their full potential in a safe, supportive environment.
5.) Fiscal Accountability. La Cañada Flintridge families are incredibly generous. Year after year, we donate millions of dollars to LCFEF. We have approved parcel taxes and bond measures. In exchange, our community deserves more fiscal accountability and transparency. As an entrepreneurial real estate investor, I am committed to maximizing return-on-investment for our community.
For more information, visit arnold4lcusd.com.

Josh Epstein
Josh Epstein

The next few years will be full of significant challenges for public schools in La Cañada Flintridge: The immediate health concerns, looming statewide funding shortages and complex ongoing bond projects all weigh heavily on the continuing effort to provide the high-quality education our community expects. As a college professor, parent and longtime district volunteer, I am uniquely positioned to help lead La Cañada’s schools during this unprecedented time.
I have established relationships with key stakeholders. With daughters at three LCUSD schools (PCY, 7/8, LCHS), I know the sites well and I have volunteered on numerous district-wide committees. In 2010 I started as a board member of the Educational Foundation where I ultimately served as president. I co-chaired both the parcel tax and bond campaigns and sat on the facilities master planning, bond oversight and school reopening committees. At a time when we need newly elected board members to get right to work, I will be ready on Day 1.
I have distance-learning expertise. Beyond serving on the school reopening committee, I am a faculty member at USC. I have spent an enormous amount of time working to understand distance-learning as both an educator and as a parent, and I have developed a full and nuanced view of the challenges ahead.
I have comprehensive knowledge of the bond initiative. Although focus these next months will be on the COVID-19 crisis, there are going to be numerous crucial decisions on bond projects. With years of observation and experience, plus a background in design and public policy, I will be prepared to make informed, well-considered decisions.
I will approach a role on the governing board with the same focus on consensus building and communication that I have used extensively during my decade of volunteer leadership in the district. I’m ready to listen and learn about the issues that are of most concern to you, and I hope for the opportunity to provide support as we all work to help our children grow.
Visit my website epsteinforlcusd.com for more information and to reach out.

Belinda Randolph
Belinda Randolph

I have been an active participant in La Cañada Flintridge school board meetings for more than a decade — longer than any other candidate on the ballot — because I believe that involvement in the policy-making process and oversight of its implementation can make a real difference for our students.
It’s important to me that the needs of all learners are met, and I’ve worked with the board to improve policy, accessibility to instructional material, accountability, and teacher feedback to students so more students in our district can succeed — including special education students that I’ve worked hard to represent at board meetings. I’m proud of our district, and also a firm believer that all students should be accorded the respect and support they deserve and that includes examining our policies and work around diversity, equity and inclusion.
I’m passionate about parents having a voice in the process that so greatly affects their students and families. I post in parent Facebook groups to share board information with busy families, get parent suggestions and questions for board meetings, and help explain what I’ve learned being present in the board room for almost all of the monthly meetings.
On a personal note, I have two boys who attended La Cañada schools, where I volunteered and served as a site council president and survey committee member.
Professionally, I work as an engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. I earned my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Berkeley and a master’s in aerospace engineering from Stanford. My work with process and procedures has helped me assist in improving school board policy, and as a board member, I believe my involvement will lead to sound policy, greater accountability, and consistent results in communication, instruction and equity.
At the end of the day, students are a product of their education, and our entire community is stronger when the outcomes are improved and needs are met. That’s why I’d like your vote in November. Together we can continue to build upon the rock-solid educational foundation we have here in La Cañada and make our community even stronger.
For more information, visit belindarandolphforlacanadaschoolboard.com.

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”

Letters to the Editor

Opinion About Advocates
It appears that those advocating the diversity plan in our schools are more interested in teaching kids what to think rather than how to think.

Trent Sanders
La Cañada Flintridge

DEI Consultant Thanks Community for Its Support
I am writing to express my sincere gratitude for the many members of the greater La Cañada Unified School District community who have extended their support over the past several weeks — support for me, but more importantly, for the critical work of cultivating equitable spaces for learning where every student is seen, supported and feels a sense of belonging. Through the letters to the editor, comments during school board meetings and direct emails, students, parents, staff, alumni and community members have raised their voices in support of a humanizing approach to education, Continue reading “Letters to the Editor”