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.
Continue reading “LCUSD Presents Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Framework”

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.”

Continue reading “LCUSD To Provide ‘Rigorous, Culturally Responsive’ DEI Program”

Kiwanis Club Installs Officers and Directors

The Kiwanis Club of La Cañada recently held its 71st annual installation via Zoom in celebration of incoming 2020-21 officers and directors, as the gavel was virtually passed to new President Dennis Fors from Immediate Past President Michael Freed.
Club board member Michael Leininger served as master of ceremonies at an event attended by nearly 50 members and guests at which past officers and directors were congratulated for their work.
Continue reading “Kiwanis Club Installs Officers and Directors”

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.
Continue reading “Letters to the Editor”

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.”
Continue reading “LCUSD Diversity Ideas Prompt Dissent, Calls for Caution”

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.

Continue reading “Diversity Report Spurs LCUSD Board to Confront Inequity”

District Set to Start School on Monday

The La Cañada Unified School District and its teachers reached an agreement on the distance learning model for the upcoming school year, Superintendent Wendy Sinnette reported during the governing board meeting on Tuesday.
Virtual learning will begin for all grade levels on Monday, Aug. 17, in keeping with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s guidelines preventing schools in counties on the state’s COVID-19 watch list from providing in-person instruction.
“We are committed to providing a world-class educational experience virtually, in small groups,” Sinnette said, “and then hopefully we get to the hybrid model and then ideally to a full resumption of school as we once realized it, hopefully within this year.”
Sinnette’s virtual presentation included scheduling information that had been previously discussed but included one major update.

Continue reading “District Set to Start School on Monday”

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.”
Continue reading “LCUSD Commits to ‘Quality’ Distance Learning to Start Year”

LCUSD Changes Course, Will Appoint New Board Member

A temporary position on the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board is up for grabs after the four-member panel voted in favor of appointing one of 10 applicants who had previously interviewed for the position, reversing its June 17 decision to leave the seat vacant and allow voters to choose a new member in the November election.
“To me, the decision not to fill was the best outcome at that time,” board President Joe Radabaugh said during Tuesday’s virtual meeting in an effort to clarify what transpired during the previous session. “I did have regrets that we surprised applicants and others with the decision.
“But [after the meeting], I listened to feedback from the community. I know people didn’t have the full story. I realize fair points were being made. In closing, we value the trust and support of the community. Because of that, we felt it was important to agendize this item for more discussion and allow folks to weigh in.”
Most people who commented Tuesday expressed a preference for appointing a temporary board member. The position would still be permanently filled in the November election.
Continue reading “LCUSD Changes Course, Will Appoint New Board Member”

LCUSD Board Leaves Seat Vacant, Discussion Will Resume

OUTLOOK file photo
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.
Continue reading “LCUSD Board Leaves Seat Vacant, Discussion Will Resume”