School Board Discusses Students’ Return to LCHS

The La Cañada Unified School District is one of the few districts in Los Angeles County to have brought young learners back for limited in-person learning last November and remained open during an alarming pandemic surge. It has since welcomed the remainder of its elementary school students and is in the process of having students in grades 7-12.
However, that good news, which was presented during an LCUSD governing board meeting on Tuesday, quickly soured when a number of La Cañada Flintridge parents voiced their frustrations over the district’s approach to reopening and asked the governing board to consider a full reopening with five days of in-person instruction.
Superintendent Wendy Sinnette assured community members that the district is committed to fully reopening with a regular bell schedule for the 2021-22 school year and will continue to find a way to expand in-person instruction for the final few months of the current semester. However, she added that such a task cannot be accomplished if parents continue to harass her and staff with messages.
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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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LCUSD Ready to Bring Back 3rd-Graders

The La Cañada Unified School District governing board unanimously voted last week to expand on-campus services by welcoming back 3rd-grade students on Feb.16 for in-person instruction.
Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said the move was possible because nearly half of families with 3rd-graders opted for the district’s virtual learning academy for the entire school year. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health permits schools to open for specialized services as long as the number of students on campus does not exceed 25% of total enrollment.
“I’m just very appreciative of the administrative team that’s worked so hard to implement all the protocols,” Sinnette told the Outlook Valley Sun on Tuesday. “I think it’s been fabulous that we’ve maintained a really positive and collaborative working relationship with both [the teachers and classified employees associations].”
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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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School Leaders Caution Against ‘Falsehoods’ About DEI

The La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board said this week that the diversity, equity and inclusion report given by a consultant at an August board meeting is being translated into Korean and Chinese, and that edition will be shared with the LCUSD community once completed.
In a joint statement, district Superintendent Wendy Sinnette and board President Joe Radabaugh also addressed questions the board has received regarding DEI and some of the rumors or falsehoods allegedly circulating ahead of the election for two board seats on Nov. 3. They recommended that residents who need clarification on the meaning of DEI or the district’s intentions reach out directly to a board member or staff.
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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 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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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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Unusual School Year Opens to ‘Positive’ Feedback

It wasn’t the first day of school anyone envisioned for the 2020-21 academic year before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, but Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said it was a positive one for the La Cañada Unified School District.
Despite some technical difficulties, Sinnette said she received some encouraging feedback from parents and students as distance learning commenced on Monday.
“It’s definitely unprecedented, but we have had positive emails from parents,” she said. “Families are appreciating the live instruction and that both elementary and secondary levels are following a daily bell schedule.”
The district has sought to develop different schedules for elementary and secondary schools that would not only give students a daily routine but also help schools transition into a hybrid model when Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials allow it. The elementary level is ready for the next phase, but grades 7-12 do not yet have a schedule that would support a hybrid model.
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