Diversity Report Spurs LCUSD Board to Confront Inequity

File photo
Consultant Christina Hale-Elliott (right), who contracted with the LCUSD in September 2019, is pictured with Superintendent Wendy Sinnette.

When it comes to racial diversity, equity and inclusion, the La Cañada Unified School District has been given a road map to improve its grade.
LCUSD Governing Board members showed enthusiasm Tuesday for embracing the beginnings of a plan to improve inclusion, empathy, tolerance and much more throughout the district, after listening to findings gathered over the course of a year by Pasadena-based Christina Hale-Elliott. Hired in September 2019 as the district’s first diversity, equity and inclusion consultant, she is the founder of Elliott Educational Services.
For more than two hours, board members leaned in as Hale-Elliott summarized her findings, based on data collected via numerous surveys, interviews and focus groups involving teachers, staff, students and parents throughout the district at the elementary, middle and high school levels. The report also drew on quantitative data provided by the LCUSD and the California Department of Education website.

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LCUSD Commits to ‘Quality’ Distance Learning to Start Year

The La Cañada Unified School District has mulled over scheduling and instruction for the upcoming school year for the past eight weeks, but its governing board’s disclosure this week that the district is going with distance learning simply confirmed an earlier decision by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The governor announced new guidelines last Friday that would prevent California schools, public and private, in counties on the state’s COVID-19 watch list — which monitors trends in infections and test positivity and hospitalization rates — from providing in-person instruction when the academic year begins.
“Learning is non-negotiable,” Newsom said. “The virus will be with us for a year or more, and school districts must provide meaningful instruction in the midst of this pandemic. In California, health data will determine when a school can physically open — and when it must close — but learning should never stop.”
In a special meeting Tuesday, the LCUSD announced it will open the school year with distance learning at all levels, but officials are hopeful of returning students to campus when it is safe to do so. Details of those plans, whether at half or full capacity, have not yet been finalized.
For the district’s schools to reopen, Los Angeles County must be taken off the watch list, which can happen only if coronavirus cases drop for 14 consecutive days. The recent surge in COVID-19 cases made California the state with the most confirmed infections in the nation, surpassing New York.
“The good news about our virtual academy is that it’s much better than it was before,” LCUSD board President Joe Radabaugh said by phone. “It’s going to be quality education.”
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LCUSD Board Leaves Seat Vacant, Discussion Will Resume

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The La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board voted 3-1 last week to keep the vacant school board seat empty and let voters choose a new member in the November election. The matter has been posted as an agenda item for discussion at a June 30 meeting.

By Camila Castellanos and Oscar Areliz
Outlook Valley Sun

Despite having interviewed 10 applicants to fill a temporary vacancy on the panel, the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board ultimately decided last week not to fill the seat, indicating that doing so might give the appointee an unfair advantage in the November election that will permanently fill it.
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LCUSD Seeks to Celebrate Seniors Despite School Closures

Though cautioning that the future remains unknown, the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board said recently it is planning a car parade on Wednesday, June 3, to celebrate graduating seniors from La Cañada High School in the midst of unprecedented pandemic measures.
Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said the district has been working with Los Angeles County to determine if it can hold the parade, which is looking likely to be approved. After the district initially decided the celebration could not take place under county coronavirus health orders, some of the “Safer at Home” guidelines were relaxed, and the board learned it could submit an event plan to Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who would then relay it to the county Department of Public Health for consideration.
During the school board’s virtual meeting on May 19, Sinnette emphasized that, while she is hopeful, the event will not be held without approval from the county. The celebration is not a replacement for the seniors’ postponed graduation at Spartan Stadium. LCHS Principal Jim Cartnal said he has asked families to hold July 31, Nov. 24 and Dec. 22 as potential, in-person graduation dates.
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School Board OKs Financial Figures

The La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board unanimously voted on Tuesday to approve a summary of district revenue and expenditures for the 2017-18 fiscal year, including an unaudited fund balance that increased by about $2.1 million from the previous fiscal year.
The California Education Code requires that unaudited financial information for the previous year be submitted to the board and the county Office of Education by Sept. 15, according to a report from Mark Evans, assistant superintendent of administration and business services.
Even though the previous fiscal year ended on June 30, final totals are not completed by the district and the Office of Education until the end of August, Evans wrote. A state-approved firm then audits the reports and documentation, and everything is finalized for submission to the LCUSD board and the state by Dec. 15.
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LCHS Achieves Standout Ranking in State, Nation

According to U.S. News & World Report, the purpose of compiling a comprehensive ranking of America’s “Best High Schools” is to pay heed to the importance of secondary education: “Recognizing schools that are performing well and providing them as models to other schools will inspire educators and communities to do better.”
Consider La Cañada High School a role model.
LCHS maintained its status among the best in the nation in U.S. News & World Report’s latest ranking, which measures performance on state-required tests and how well schools prepare students for college. In the list released last month (using data from 2015-16) LCHS checked in No. 39 in the state and No. 249 in the nation. Continue reading “LCHS Achieves Standout Ranking in State, Nation”

LCUSD Task Force Tackles Student Safety, Traffic, Wellness

Photo by Mirjam Swanson / OUTLOOK
Superintendent Wendy Sinnette addresses the newly formed community task force at its first meeting last week on Thursday, May 24. The task force was created to help the La Cañada Unified School District improve its safety, security and student wellness policies.

The especially sobering thing about discussing safety, security and student well-being is how deep those conversations go, La Cañada Unified School District Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said last week during the first meeting of the district’s task force to address those topics.
“Everything’s connected,” she said. “And as soon as you talk about one thing, it makes you think of another. The work will never be done, but it’s really empowering to have such wonderful people here committed to doing the work.”
Twenty-three members of the community — including parents, students, administrators, teachers and staff members — joined district administrators and Governing Board members in the district’s meeting room on Thursday, May 24. They signed up for subcommittees and got an overview of what they’re expected to accomplish in the next year. Continue reading “LCUSD Task Force Tackles Student Safety, Traffic, Wellness”

LCUSD Governing Board Considers More Safety Measures

The 17th school shooting in the nation this year occurred Tuesday morning at a high school in Maryland. On Tuesday night, concerned members of the La Cañada Unified School District community reconvened at a Governing Board meeting to talk security locally.
“Everything we can do, we will,” Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said.
That includes anything from inviting a pack of drug-sniffing dogs to visit the La Cañada High School campus to scheduling conversations with architects about fencing at all of the district’s traditionally open campuses. Continue reading “LCUSD Governing Board Considers More Safety Measures”