BUSD to Host DEI Discussion

The Burbank Unified School District will host a panel discussion to inform the community about its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiative on Tuesday, May 4, at 7 p.m.
In an effort to be more transparent with stakeholders, members of the DEI Committee will gather virtually to share their thoughts, the work the district has done so far and what DEI means for students, staff and families.
“We have a diverse group of students, parents and employees working on DEI over this past year, so we want to set up a panel so people can share their experiences and perspectives on DEI,” said Superintendent Matt Hill.
Board of Education members Armond Aghakhanian, who helped launch the committee in 2019, and Emily Weisberg will be part of the event, as well as state teacher of the year finalist Ericca Dent, Luther Middle School Principal Oscar Macias, school intervention specialist Juan Avila, Burbank High School student Emily Hasunuma, Walt Disney Elementary technology specialist Rosemary Morrison and BUSD parent Africa Turner.
“The main focus is to start to create these spaces and conversations throughout the district,” Hill said. “This panel will give everyone a different perspective.”
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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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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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Residents Rally for Solidarity Amid Rise in Anti-Asian Violence

In the wake of last week’s shootings at Atlanta-area spas, leaving eight people dead — six of them Asian women — a recent surge of xenophobia, hate and violent incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the nation is coming to light, and La Cañada Flintridge residents want to stand in solidarity.
As part of the nationwide call for an “Asian American Day of Action,” this Friday, LCF resident and La Cañada Elementary School mom Nirosha Ruwan is planning a family-friendly walk from the school to Memorial Park to recognize the rise of anti-Asian harassment and violence witnessed since the beginning of the pandemic. The event will be “kid-driven and kid-centric,” she said.
“We are trying to raise awareness in La Cañada and elsewhere, where people might not really understand that this is happening,” Ruwan said. “This is such a huge issue and we want to make sure kids and families know about it and that we stand in solidarity, that we will take a stand and not tolerate the rise of these incidents, as well as empower our kids to stand up when they see injustices.”
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Return to On-Campus Learning Appears in Jeopardy

A recent surge of new COVID-19 cases around the nation has Burbank Unified School District officials coming to grips with the possibility that the majority of its students will not be allowed to return to campus for in-person instruction this academic year.
The district recently committed to distance learning through the remainder of the first semester and staff members have been refining a hybrid model that would bring back students at a limited capacity.
However, a current trend in coronavirus cases had the board of education questioning whether it is best to continue working on a hybrid schedule or shift the focus to enhancing the distance learning experience.
In Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ranking system, Los Angeles County remains in Tier 1, a classification that indicates a widespread risk of COVID-19 infection and keeps schools closed. The county would have to meet the next tier’s thresholds for two weeks to move into Tier 2, which indicates substantial risk of infection.

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LCUSD Leader Embraces Goals, Growth

Superintendent Wendy Sinnette

Earlier this week, La Cañada Unified School District Superintendent Wendy Sinnette had a small bounce in her step.
After steering the district through a historic pandemic and confronting barriers to a return to on-campus education, Sinnette applied on Monday for waivers from Los Angeles County to allow in-person instruction for TK-grade 2 at all three district elementary schools. LCUSD likely is one of the first public school districts, if not the first, in the county to apply for the waivers, which will help increase the potential of approval, she noted.
“It really is a huge accomplishment,” said Sinnette, beaming as she lightly waved the paperwork in her hand. “I have to give a shoutout to the California School Employees Association Chapter 122,” which gave a formal letter of support to the district, one of the requirements to file for a waiver.
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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”

Environmental Prep Ordered for PCR Modernization Project

Photo courtesy Google image capture
The LCUSD Governing Board approved an environmental study of the Palm Crest Elementary modernization project on Tuesday. Part of the revamp calls for the demolition of the former Bullock residence known as Viewpoint.

Palm Crest Elementary School is one step closer to undertaking its modernization project after the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board approved an environmental study by a consulting firm during a virtual meeting on Tuesday.
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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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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”