Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Talks Elicit Viable Pathways

Diversity, equity and inclusion are three words that can easily be defined separately, but together as an initiative can stir up a lengthy discourse.

“I can go on for hours talking about that, and I welcome that opportunity privately if you want to do that,” Oscar Macias, Luther Middle School principal said on Tuesday during a Burbank Unified School District discussion about its DEI efforts.

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LCUSD To Provide ‘Rigorous, Culturally Responsive’ DEI Program

The La Cañada Unified School District is close to finalizing and implementing its three-year diversity, equity and inclusion plan.
Superintendent Wendy Sinnette presented to the governing board and community members on Tuesday the first reading of a mission statement — crafted by a committee that includes board members, staff, teachers and students — and reasons for the DEI initiative.
She felt that it was best to approach DEI through the lens of a student followed by that of its staff members.
“The students are our priority, and the staff work will feed into meeting these objectives for students,” said Sinnette, who hopes to provide a revised statement and more details about the district’s three-year plan to the board in the next month. “It really is the umbrella of students followed closely by staff and the support that we provide staff to make sure that our students are protected and that the environments that we are creating for students are fully inclusive, equitable and diverse.”

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Superintendent’s Goals Address ‘Turbulent Times’

Though uncertainty clouds the future of education and instruction because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the goals of the La Cañada Unified School District for the 2020-21 academic year were made very clear in a virtual governing board meeting on Tuesday.
Board members approved Superintendent Wendy Sinnette’s main objectives, which include overseeing Measure LCF-financed facility upgrades, distance learning and instruction, planning and executing campuses’ eventual reopening and expanding the district’s wellness initiative.
There have been as many as 18 goals in the past, according to Sinnette, but this year’s four each comprise several initiatives.

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Where Candidates Stand on DEI

As the local school board election on Nov. 3 approaches, readers have reached out to the Outlook Valley Sun as they try to understand the topic of diversity, equity and inclusion within the La Cañada Unified School District and each candidate’s stance on the issue. We asked the candidates to respond in about 350 words to the questions “How do you agree or disagree with the recent findings and recommendations from the DEI consultant hired by the district?” and “Do you have alternative solutions to any of her recommendations, and what are they?”
Here are their statements on the matter. Continue reading “Where Candidates Stand on DEI”

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.
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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.”
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