Crime-Fighting Custodians Honored

The custodians claimed it wasn’t a big deal, but school officials and community members at Tuesday’s La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board meeting disagreed, lauding four men for thwarting a carjacking attempt on Feb. 15 in the La Cañada High School parking lot.

OUTOOK photo Eliseo Williams, Alvin Jones, Melvin Jones, Principal Ian McFeat, Carl Payne, Deputy Eric Matejka and Pat Anderson attended Tuesday’s Governing Board meeting, where the four custodians were honored for intervening in an attempted carjacking last month.
OUTOOK photo
Eliseo Williams, Alvin Jones, Melvin Jones, Principal Ian McFeat, Carl Payne, Deputy Eric Matejka and Pat Anderson attended Tuesday’s Governing Board meeting, where the four custodians were honored for intervening in an attempted carjacking last month.


Three juveniles were arrested after attempting to steal a car from a LCHS student who was waiting for his mother and sister at around 6:30 p.m. that day. When the alleged assailants — none of whom was an LCUSD student — demanded the keys, the student ran and shouted, which got the attention of Melvin Jones, Carl Payne, Alvin Jones and Eliseo Williams.
The men, who are members of the school’s custodial crew, chased away the would-be carjackers, who were all apprehended by authorities within an hour, according to LCHS 7/8 Principal Jarrett Gold.
On Tuesday, the quartet was given a standing ovation at the Governing Board meeting and each received a $100 gift card, courtesy of the district office, the Chamber of Commerce, NASA Services Inc. and Republic Services.
“That was not a typical thing,” LCHS Principal Ian McFeat said. “Thank you, gentlemen, for all of your service, but really, you went above and beyond.”
Jones thanked McFeat and the board, but he countered, “This is what we’d all do.”

NEW LCFEF FUND
At its 26th annual gala on March 4, the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation asked attendees to consider supporting a new initiative tabbed the Instructional Innovation Fund, or the “What-If Campaign.”
The idea is to make resources available to allow teachers new ways to engage students without the constraints of the status quo or limited resources, Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said. That could mean anything from purchasing a new piece of equipment and specialty supplies to paying for a newspaper subscription.
The community’s reaction to the idea was swift and positive: In the approximately 15 minutes it took to complete a paddle pledge, the foundation raised $110,000 for the fund.
Overall, LCFEF raised $510,000 at the gala, which this year had the theme, “Moonlight in Morocco.”
“It was a wonderful night,” said Marilyn Yang, LCFEF’s executive director.

ON-SITE, OFF-SEASON RULES
Last year, a private tutor complained to the district about an independent summer course offered by LCHS English teacher Justin Valassidis, who rents his regular classroom space from the district. Bill Chitwood’s concerns included the notion that current students might sign up hoping that their participation would positively affect their grades — something Valassidis and district officials deny would happen.
In light of the discussion, Sinnette revisited the district’s policy regulating outside-of-school-time work. Going forward the administrative regulations will specify that no registration or tuition monies shall be collected before the last day of school, that no summer program and prep course correspondence shall be conducted via district-sponsored email, and no promotion of those courses shall be permitted in classrooms or during instructional time.
Board President Dan Jeffries asked whether participants’ names also remain anonymous until after the school year.
“We don’t have any way to do a blind registration, not at this point,” Sinnette said. “But we’ll continue to look at those options if the technology develops.”

CALIFORNIA DASHBOARD
On Wednesday, the California Department of Education released the California School Dashboard, the State’s new Accountability and Improvement system for evaluating schools. Dashboard replaces the former API system.
LCUSD continues to be among the top-performing districts in the state: It received the highest designation possible in English language arts and mathematics and was awarded a “very high” performance rating in graduation rate. English learner progress also received a “very high” ranking.
For more information, visit: caschooldashboard.org.

MATH TEXTS APPROVED
Anais Wenn, assistant superintendent of educational services, told the Governing Board that math teachers at LCHS 7/8 support the adoption of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Math in Focus textbooks, which were also reviewed and approved of by administrators and parents — a few of whom came Tuesday to request more involvement in future textbook decisions.

LCHS REDUCTIONS
With the Governing Board’s approval, next year LCHS could offer four fewer Spanish or French courses, one less ceramics course and one less English class.
Assistant Superintendent Jeff Davis said the reductions stemmed from a lack of student enrollment in those courses, which, with an uptick in enrollment, could change.
“We always hope we’re able to rescind these [reductions],” Sinnette said.

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