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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LCUSD Deliberates on 2020-21 School Year

In a regular meeting of the La Cañada School District Governing Board on Tuesday, Superintendent Wendy Sinnette tackled an update on what many students and families have been anxiously — and with trepidation — waiting to hear: What the future of learning holds in La Cañada Flintridge.
In short, Sinnette summed up, nobody is certain on a plan, but the district is working hard to create various scenarios on how it intends to open the 2020-21 school year, with possible options including staggered student schedules though an “a.m. or p.m.” possibility or even alternating days. Whatever approach is considered and decided upon, Sinnette said, she will be informing the LCUSD community as it happens.
“I know everyone is listening to the news and I think we all have more questions than answers right now,” the superintendent said, “but [we] are creating timelines for plan implementation; we are engaged in educational research looking at all kinds of options, we are identifying strengths and limitations of various scenarios, and so I want our community to be rest assured there is in-depth research taking place and we will begin to communicate in a transparent fashion all of our plan development over the next weeks and months.
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LCUSD: Lawsuit by Students Alleging Racism ‘Resolved’

A lawsuit filed by the families of four former La Cañada High School students last year alleging racial discrimination on the part of La Cañada Unified School District, site administration and an LCHS teacher in relation to an alleged student cheating incident has been resolved, LCUSD Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said in a statement Wednesday.
“There was no monetary settlement provided by the district or its representative agencies in this matter,” Sinnette said.
The lawsuit, filed in September 2019, was related to discipline issued regarding an alleged coordinated cheating effort on a test in an Advanced Placement European history class in October 2018. In the civil complaint that was obtained by The Outlook and is public record, four students and their guardians accused LCHS’ principal and a history teacher of helping enact a “covert and systemic policy of discrimination against Korean students.” The student plaintiffs received zeros as discipline and were required to essentially drop the class after it was claimed that they cheated on the test.
LCUSD said that as part of resolving the lawsuit, each of the four students signed a document that effectively retracts and denies all claims of racism by any LCUSD employees.
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LCUSD Superintendent’s Message on Status of District

By Wendy Sinnette, Special to The Outlook

Wendy Sinnette

I hope everyone is managing during these unprecedented times as we engage with Gov. Newsom’s “Safer at Home” order and work together to flatten the curve of infection with the COVID-19 virus. I am grateful to The Outlook and Charlie Plowman for giving me the opportunity to update the larger community regarding the status of our schools in the La Cañada Unifed School District.
I have been regularly emailing district families, students in grades 7-12 and staff, but given the support that the community of La Cañada Flintridge continually demonstrates for its schools, it is important to keep everyone informed regarding district updates. Our schools closed on Friday, March 13, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Teachers were provided two days to prepare for distance learning, which officially commenced on Tuesday, March 17. Our teachers and students have access to Google Classroom, and student textbooks and learning apps are stored in Classlink, an online centralized platform. Other resources available for distance learning opportunities are Screencastify, Google Hangouts, Zoom, YouTube and EdPuzzle. Teachers are designing lessons according to their instructional style and working hard to ensure a continuation of learning throughout the school closure period.
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LCHS Seeks to Reintroduce Peer Counseling Class

Hoping to cultivate student wellness, school district officials recommended at Tuesday’s Governing Board meeting that the district reintroduce a peer counseling elective for the upcoming academic year.
“The goal here is to have a class which, in essence, trains schools in peer counseling skills for about three quarters and the last quarter [students will] begin to work with students,” said Jim Cartnal, the La Cañada Unified School District’s executive director of pupil and personnel programs and services. Continue reading “LCHS Seeks to Reintroduce Peer Counseling Class”

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 Ready for Phase I of Facilities Improvements

At a special meeting last Friday, the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board discussed Measure LCF projects and oversight as district administrators gear up to begin implementing the Facilities Master Plan.
Discussion touched mostly on cash flow and priority-setting for nearly $30 million that will initially become available from the $149 million bond passed by voters last year. Continue reading “LCUSD Ready for Phase I of Facilities Improvements”