District to Reopen Schools for Youngest Students

Nearly eight months after shuttering its campuses to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the La Cañada Unified School District is ready to reopen its doors to young learners after getting the green light from Los Angeles County.
Superintendent Wendy Sinnette notified parents late last week that county officials granted the district waivers that allow students in transitional kindergarten through 2nd grade to return to campus for limited in-person instruction. La Cañada, Palm Crest and Paradise Canyon elementary schools are set to reopen on Tuesday, Nov. 17.
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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”

LCUSD Targets Date for Hybrid Schedule

The months-long discourse over a hybrid schedule for La Cañada High School and LCHS 7/8 students came to an end as the local school system’s governing board unanimously came to an agreement during a virtual meeting on Tuesday.
Beginning Jan. 5, 2021, the La Cañada Unified School District will implement a schedule that would allow 50% of students in grades 7-12 to receive on-campus instruction two days a week. LCUSD would have to adhere to Los Angeles County’s reopening protocols for schools and reach an accord with labor unions.
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LCFEF Donates $2.3M to Schools

Photo courtesy LCFEF
La Cañada Unified School District Superintendent Wendy Sinnette (front row, from left), La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation President Leslie Chang and Mark Evans. Back: LCFEF Executive Director Marilyn Yang, Endowment Trustee Ara Aslanian and 2019-20 LCFEF President Rodney Swan.

Thanks to generous donations during the 2019-20 school year, the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation — with a boost of $380,000 from its Endowment Fund — contributed $2.3 million to the La Cañada Unified School District on Sept. 16.
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Students in Special Categories May Soon Return to Campus

Nearly 60 schools notified Los Angeles County of their intent to reopen this week at limited capacity, and the La Cañada Unified School District isn’t far from doing the same.
Public Health announced earlier this month that schools could reopen small classes for students with individual education plans, students in special education and English-language learners beginning Sept. 14.
In an email to the Outlook Valley Sun, Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said she anticipates “the first few cohorts of [LCUSD] students may return to campuses at the end of September or early October.”
“We are in the process of bargaining the effects of working conditions with [teachers and employees associations] to allow this to happen,” Sinnette said. “The cohort restrictions are strict and once a teacher joins an in-person cohort, they are prohibited from delivering in-person instruction or assessments to any student outside the cohort. So our first priority will be to bring back to campus cohorts of our highest at-risk, highest-level-of-need students.
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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”

LCUSD Grapples With Approach to Diversity Plan

One month after diversity, equity and inclusion consultant Christina Hale-Elliott presented her findings — collected over a year — to the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board, that panel on Tuesday returned to a discussion of the matter and took what it considered a step toward achieving DEI goals.
During a virtual meeting, the board decided to include progress on DEI as one of Superintendent Wendy Sinnette’s objectives for this school year, to help the district sketch a “road map to a road map,” according to board President Joe Radabaugh.
“I am supportive of diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Radabaugh, who will partner with board member Kaitzer Puglia to work with Sinnette in framing the specifics of the DEI goals of creating a welcoming environment for all stakeholders regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or other factors. “It really fits with our historic focus on the whole child, not just academic excellence but making them good people and preparing them for the future, especially staging them for success in an ever increasingly diverse world.”
Board member Dan Jeffries noted it’s a tradition for the LCUSD to place issues that “we consider to be very important” on the superintendent’s short list of goals. Sinnette did not provide details about the next step but acknowledged the importance of Hale-Elliott’s three-year implementation plan, which “identifies clear actions, strategies and deliverables” each year, helping staff members determine the effectiveness of actions and services in meeting the goals. Any plans will be reviewed and voted on by the board.
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Diversity Plan’s Future Worries Some LCUSD Stakeholders

Outlook Valley Sun photo
Christina Hale-Elliott, a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant, is shown at one of her workshops during the 2019-2020 school year.

It was “Back to School Night” last week for the La Cañada Unified School District, and parents like Vanessa Rosas hunkered down Thursday evening to take in what was going to be a virtual presentation of the annual event, this year’s program emphasizing the distance learning platform that has gripped the community in the age of the coronavirus pandemic.
She felt wary, as most parents do by now, of the way remote learning is affecting the morale and academic effectiveness of her youngsters, but when La Cañada High School 7/8 representatives dug in with a high-energy virtual presentation to help animate students and parents, she perked up.
Then her spirits crashed.
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