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.

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LCHS Among Best in U.S. News Annual Rankings

The U.S. News and World Report published its annual best high schools rankings last week and La Cañada High School made the grade with an exemplary scorecard of 98.74, placing it 10th out of 659 qualifying schools in Los Angeles and 27th out of 2,598 in the state.
Superintendent Wendy Sinnette was “thrilled” to congratulate LCHS for its “exceptional performance” and credited the students, LCUSD employees and families for the honor of being recognized by a high profile publication, which ranked La Cañada No. 225 in the nation out of 17,857 schools.
“LCUSD always looks to research-based indicators to assess our performance, and we recognize that this is just one measure, but we are proud of our high school’s achievement here and wish to recognize the performances of our students, teachers, staff and administration,” Sinnette said in a statement. “We are also grateful to our families for their support, which continually allows all of our schools to thrive.”
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LCUSD Cautiously Advances DEI Initiative

The issue that is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) dominated the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board meeting yet again on Tuesday with dozens of stakeholders reiterating their stance against the initiative.
The board was expected to discuss and adopt the district’s DEI framework and guiding principles for the initiative, as well as its mission statement and definitions, but the panel balked at fully adopting each document due to the language used and a perceived lack of clarity.
Board members ultimately decided to table the framework for adoption at a future meeting, but they did partially approve the other agenda item. They did move forward on approving the mission statement and definition of diversity, but asked staff to work further on the definitions for equity and inclusion.
Josh Epstein, who was elected to the Governing Board last November, said he was conflicted about the decision and wanted the community to know that there is a sense of urgency in moving forward with the DEI initiative.
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St. Bede Given Green Light to Demolish, Rebuild Parish Hall

Photo courtesy Jim Saake
The Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit for the demolition of the St. Bede the Venerable Roman Catholic Church parish hall, which served as the church from 1952-1968, despite the objections of several residents and parishioners.

The beloved parish hall at St. Bede the Venerable Roman Catholic Church in La Cañada Flintridge is one step closer to being demolished and replaced with a new building that would better serve parishioners and the school.
Despite hearing pleas from community members requesting for preservation and modernization rather than replacement, the city’s Planning Commission unanimously approved three resolutions last week giving St. Bede a conditional use permit that allows demolition of the Spanish mission-style building and redevelopment of the courtyard, a tree removal permit and a variance to allow for the reduction of parking onsite parking spaces.
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Late Night Hours, Cannabis Discussed By Planning Commission

The La Cañada Flintridge Planning Commission continued its discussion and review of the special regulations portion of the city zoning code, which is in the process of being updated and reorganized to keep it consistent with other chapters, in a special meeting last week.
Patricia Blumen, a consultant from City Planning, picked up where she left off from last month’s meeting where she presented the first 17 chapters of special regulations, whether they are permitted outright or require discretionary review.
The first chapter presented turned out to be the most discussed item by the commissioners, who questioned whether having a portion dedicated to late night hours was necessary. Blumen, who worked with city staff on the updates, added a late night hours chapter that would establish criteria and regulations to minimize potential impacts of non-residential uses operating late night hours that are located near residential properties.
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LCUSD Presents Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Framework

Nearly six months after including it as one of her goals for the academic year, Superintendent Wendy Sinnette presented to the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board the framework, commitment statement and three-year implementation plan of the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiative on Tuesday.
A virtual special meeting was held to allow the board to dive deep into the documents submitted by district staff. There were a total of 25 pages that included the district’s objectives and reasoning for DEI. The framework was a first-read item on the agenda, and the commitment statement, created to define DEI, and three-year plan were discussion items.
“It’s our desire to clearly articulate what this DEI work is, what its objectives are and in the design, we are also affirming and characterizing what it is not,” Sinnette said.
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LCHS Extols Reopening, but Pandemic Still Looms

Photos by Chris Sutton / Outlook Valley Sun
La Cañada High School students, including Kai Gunderssen (above), returned to campus on Tuesday. However, four positive coronavirus tests forced three classes to shut down. Also, a pipe burst in the main office which flooded the school’s mail room.

The La Cañada Unified School District officially welcomed back students in grades 7-12 on Tuesday but teachers and students were also quickly reminded that COVID-19 has not gone anywhere.
Superintendent told the Outlook Valley Sun Wednesday that three classes at La Cañada High School were shut down due to four positive coronavirus tests — one student, two coaches and one staff member — and the cohorts of students possibly exposed to the virus must quarantine for two weeks.
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LCHS Seniors Celebrate Return to Campus; Rose Bowl Graduation

Photo by Mary Emily Myers / Outlook Valley Sun
La Cañada High School’s student government members, who were among the seniors on campus yesterday in preparation for their official return to school, include (front row, from left) Senior Class President Seema Kayali, JT Salcido, ASB President Andrew Han, Colin Melillo, Andrew Chi, Ben Lee and Emaan Qazi. Back: Gordon Cucullu, Alison Flynn, Keaton Comstock and Cari James.

After more than a year of isolation and cancelled activities, it felt like a triumphant return to La Cañada High School for seniors on Wednesday with more promising days ahead: a return to limited on-campus learning, a slew of scheduled fun activities and an in-person graduation ceremony to be held at the Rose Bowl for the senior class of 2021.
During the “Seniors Return to School” event held outdoors at Spartan Stadium, about 150 seniors excitedly gathered to learn details about the remaining end-of-year activities, procedures for graduation and, above all, to absorb some inspiration to fight off what’s become known as Zoom gloom.

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‘In-Person’ Graduation Date Set For LCHS Seniors

Outlook Valley Sun file photo
With hopes that COVID-19 cases will continue falling, district school officials said they are committed to providing an in-person graduation ceremony for seniors in June. Last year, seniors had to suffice with a drive-thru ceremony (above).

With the final stages of reopening schools for limited instruction nearly complete, the La Cañada Unified School District is shifting its focus to a specific group of students.
“We want to prioritize [La Cañada High School] seniors,” said Superintendent Wendy Sinnette.
The district announced late last week a list of events to celebrate its seniors. Student leaders and administrators are hopeful that public health officials will continue to ease restrictions as COVID-19 cases continue to dramatically fall after an alarming winter surge. With coronavirus metrics improving locally, Los Angeles County is not far off from moving out of the most restrictive purple tier, which indicates widespread infection, into the less-restrictive red tier, which would allow more on-campus activities.
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School Board Approves Grades 7-12 Return to Campus

Photo courtesy USC-VHH
During their first scheduled round of COVID-19 vaccines last week, La Cañada Unified School District Superintendent Wendy Sinnette and LCUSD Executive Director of Personnel Services Debra Cradduck took a moment to join USC-VHH Chief Nursing Officer Theresa Murphy.

The La Cañada Unified School District officially completed its elementary reopening on Monday with the return of 6th-graders and is scheduled to have the remainder of its students back on campus after spring break on Tuesday, April 13.
The governing board unanimously voted, 4-0, to approve one of three hybrid schedules presented and gave Superintendent Wendy Sinnette flexibility to set a date for teachers and staff to return to La Cañada High School. President Kaitzer Puglia was not able to attend Tuesday’s meeting.
Sinnette said negotiations are ongoing with the teachers association and she said that the plan is to have them return one week before the break for “logistical planning.”
“We do need staff to fully return to the workplace,” she said. “There’s a lot that needs to be set up.”

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