California education news: What’s the latest?

Wednesday, December 7, 2022, 3:30 pm

Link copied.54 youth mental health programs win state grants

A psychiatric hospital in Los Angeles, an adolescent substance abuse facility in Orange County and a tribal outpatient center in Humboldt County are among the 54 projects to share $480.5 million in grants promoting youth mental health and wellness, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday.

The grants are part of the state’s Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health, a priority for Newsom and the Legislature since anxiety, depression and stress among young people has soared in recent years, due to Covid, social media, climate change, school shootings, rising college costs and other factors.

“We’re overhauling our mental health system to connect young Californians with the care and support they need,” Newsom said. “Too many Californians are struggling with mental illness and substance abuse. This funding will support critical mental health and substance use disorder treatment facilities that have committed to serving the diverse range of children and youth covered by Medi-Cal.”

The grants are part of a $2.1 billion program under the state Department of Health Care Services. Other grant programs also focus on mental health, including crisis care mobile units, behavioral health and other

Among the youth mental health grantees are community health clinics, residential treatment facilities, crisis programs, school health centers and other projects.

Carolyn Jones

Wednesday, December 7, 2022, 2:52 pm

Link copied.U.S. Office of Civil Rights reaches agreement with Davis Joint Unified on seclusion and restraint

In the wake of a student death in 2018, Davis Joint Unified agreed to change its policies, training and record-keeping related to secluding and restraining students with disabilities, the U.S. Department of Education announced Wednesday.

Under the agreement between the district and the department’s Office of Civil Rights, Davis Joint Unified will improve the way it monitors students with disabilities who are placed at private schools. That includes better record-keeping of seclusion and restrain incidents, training school staff and taking other measures to ensure students are safe and families are well informed.

Secluding and restraining students is legal in California if a student is an immediate physical threat to themselves or others. It’s also legal for districts to pay for students in special education to attend private schools if the district can’t provide services the student needs. In this case, Davis Joint Unified referred a 13-year-old boy with autism to a nonpublic school in El Dorado Hills, where he collapsed after he was restrained for about an hour in November 2018. He later died at a local hospital.

“I am grateful for Davis Joint Unified School District’s commitment to take important steps to ensure that its students with disabilities are not denied a free and appropriate public education as a result of the use of restraint or seclusion whether they are placed in district schools or nonpublic school settings,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon. “The tragic death of a child subjected to prolonged and repeated restraint at a school placement through this district underscores the urgency for school communities everywhere to carefully examine their restraint and seclusion practices to safeguard children in their care, in addition to their obligation to satisfy the federal civil rights laws we enforce.”

Under Assembly Bill 2657, which passed in 2018, California schools are required to report seclusion-and-restrain incidents annually to the state, including incidents that occur at private schools. The Office of Civil Rights also collects similar data.

 

Carolyn Jones

Wednesday, December 7, 2022, 11:43 am

Link copied.Most parents support expanded Child Tax Credit, poll says

Eighty-five percent of parents of small children want federal lawmakers to revive the expanded Child Tax Credit to help families struggling amid rising inflation, according to a new poll from Zero To Three, an advocacy organization. 

The expansion of the Child Tax Credit, as part of the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act, lifted many children out of poverty. However, when the credit expired at the end of 2021, nearly four million children slid back below the poverty line. 

Nearly three-fourths of those surveyed also said that Congress should not pass any more tax cuts for corporations, as part of a pending year-end spending package, until it reinstates the Child Tax Credit. It should be noted that this finding was bipartisan, with 85% of parents who voted Democrat and 67% of parents who voted Republican agreeing with the statement.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported that more than 90% of families making less than $35,000 a year used the monthly child tax credit to pay for basics such as food, clothing, shelter, and utilities.

Many conservative politicians continue to oppose the benefit, however, arguing that it may discourage parents from working.

 

Karen D'Souza

Wednesday, December 7, 2022, 9:30 am

Link copied.ACLU files complaint against Humboldt County school district alleging discrimination against Native American students

The ACLU of Northern California has filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education on behalf of the Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria alleging that Native American and students with disabilities have been discriminated against in the Loleta Union School District in Humboldt County.

The complaint alleges that Loleta Elementary School staff have used racial slurs and racially coded language when speaking to Native American students and that concerns raised by parents of these students have been met with indifference.

The complaint also alleges that school staff excluded disabled students from class as punishment for behavior caused by their disability, instead of modifying disciplinary polices for disabled students as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Explicit and implicit racism affects students’ vision of themselves and their futures,” said Darrell Sherman, Council Member of the Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria. “Being subjected to racist remarks and stereotypes at school. We need to tell kids they are doing a good job; tell them they are going to succeed—and treat them accordingly. We all have a role in building up and protecting the youth in our community.”

Diana Lambert

Wednesday, December 7, 2022, 9:28 am

Link copied.Tahoe Truckee Unified and teachers at impasse on contract negotiations

Teachers in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District rejected a contract offer from the school district this week and asked the state to send a mediator to help the two sides come to an agreement.

The Tahoe Truckee Education Association and district could not come to agreement on salary, health benefits, class size, time off and hours of employment.

“We have been working diligently without a salary contract this year and we’ve been proposing contract language that would provide our teachers with the support and resources our students need to continue succeeding,” said TTEA President Nik Fertitta in a press release. “We want a contract that offers a competitive salary schedule that will help attract and keep the best teachers for our students.”

Diana Lambert

Tuesday, December 6, 2022, 3:27 pm

Link copied.Contra Costa County enrollment drops to lowest since 2011

Public schools in Contra Costa County saw declining enrollment for the second year in a row in last year, dropping to 169,604 — the lowest it’s been in a decade.

The county, which includes 18 school districts, saw steady enrollment increases between the 2011-12 school year and the 2019-20 school year, going from 169,394 to 178,406, according to the Contra Costa County Office of Education’s 2021-22 annual report released Tuesday. But after the Covid-19 pandemic shut down campuses, the county’s enrollment declined 3%.

Enrollment declined another 2% in 2021-22, according to the report. The state as a whole saw about the same decline last year, dropping to a two-decade low of 5,846,317 students.

The district’s largest district, West Contra Costa Unified, lost about 1,000 students in 2021-22, going from 31,027 to 30,071 — a 3% decline.

Ali Tadayon

Tuesday, December 6, 2022, 10:35 am

Link copied.Teachers union demands raises as negotiations continue with Los Angeles Unified

United Teachers Los Angeles is putting pressure on Los Angeles Unified for a 20% pay raise over two years, smaller class sizes and more academic and mental health support for students. The teachers union supporters rallied across the district, including in front of Los Angeles Unified’s downtown headquarters Monday, where they shouted up to Superintendent Alberto Carvalho to heed their requests. 

UTLA officials said their requests for a 20% raise across two years is fueled by their members’ burn-out worsened by the pandemic, teacher shortages and high cost of living. The union is also pushing to limit standardized testing, increase the number of nurses, librarians and counselors and reduce class sizes across the district. 

Speakers at the rallies, which included UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz and newly elected board member Rocio Rivas, focused on LAUSD’s $3.4 billion in reserves as evidence the district could afford the raises and other measures now.  The most recent contract expired in June and negotiations resumed this school year after a summer hiatus. 

“If you want to contract by the end of the year we’ve got to turn up the heat right now,” Myart-Cruz shouted to the crowd gathered in front of LAUSD’s headquarters. “We’re gonna tell Carvalho and every district official, they better come back to the table in January and be ready to rock and roll.”

District officials have voiced concern over potential difficulties as the state estimates a $25-billion deficit next year. LAUSD is currently using one-time state and federal Covid relief funds, but those funds will soon end.

As negotiations continue, LAUSD said it is working with its labor partners to move forward with their contracts.

“Los Angeles Unified continues to meet with our labor partners regularly,” the district said in a statement. “We respect and acknowledge the dedication of our employees and the need to compensate them fairly in this current economic environment. We remain dedicated to avoiding protracted negotiations to keep the focus on our students and student achievement.”

Kate Sequeira

Tuesday, December 6, 2022, 9:48 am

Link copied.Bill would exempt federal student loan relief from state taxes

A new bill introduced Monday would exempt up to $20,000 in federal student debt relief from California state taxes.

Assemblymember Mike Fong, D-Alhambra, introduced the bill, AB 26, which aims to maximize the benefits of federal student debt relief proposed by President Joe Biden.

Biden’s plan would forgive up to $20,000 for individuals with federal student debt. The proposal, however, has stalled in the courts. Its fate will be determined by the United States Supreme Court, which last week agreed to take up the case.

“Federal student loan debt relief is a crucial piece of California’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. AB 26 ensures that Californians who qualify for federal student loan debt relief will not pay state taxes. We must do all that we can to support the millions of Californians who are working hard to get back on their feet and contribute to the economy,” Fong said in a statement.

Michael Burke

Monday, December 5, 2022, 10:38 am

Link copied.Clovis Unified teachers remain without a union as organization efforts continue

Clovis Unified near Fresno continues to be the state’s largest non-unionized school district, in part due to stalled talks and infighting between competing employee associations, the Fresno Bee reported.

The Association of Clovis Educators has been trying since 2020 to represent the district’s 2,000 teachers under the umbrella of the California Teachers Association. The group has accused the district of unfair labor practices for its support of the Faculty Senate, another group of teachers that is not seeking to unionize. Meanwhile, a third group, the Independent Clovis Unified Educators, formed last year as an attempt to unionize independently of any larger union such as the California Teachers Association.

The school district, which has remained neutral in the issue, “respects its teachers’ right to have these discussions about how their voice is represented in conversations that impact their world of work,” district spokesperson Kelly Avants told the Bee via email.

Both the Association of Clovis Educators and the Independent Clovis Unified Educators are continuing to vie for teachers’ support as organization efforts enter a third year.

Carolyn Jones

Monday, December 5, 2022, 10:38 am

Link copied.Paso Robles voters move to oust anti-LGBTQ school board member

About 800 voters in Paso Robles in San Luis Obispo County signed a petition to unseat Kenny Enney, a right-leaning school board member who has voiced anti-LGBTQ opinions in meetings and on social media, according to the Tribune.

The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District board appointed Enney in October to replace Chris Bausch, who resigned his seat on the board to serve on the City Council. Enney is serving a two-year term.

In social media posts, Enney has questioned the district’s use of “critical race theory” and criticized transgender people. He termed the transition process as “gender mutilation” and falsely said the school district had received complaints about “Furrys” (sic), the newspaper reported.

“The board could have handled this much differently,” said Carey Alvord, a supervisor of homeless and foster youth with the district who led the petition drive. “They didn’t have to appoint an extremist candidate.”

A special election to replace Enney would cost the district $493,000.

Carolyn Jones

Friday, December 2, 2022, 10:41 am

Link copied.San Diego Unified receives cybersecurity threat

San Diego Unified is advising students and staff to change their passwords after the district received a cybersecurity threat. 

San Diego Unified has not made the nature of the cybersecurity threat clear, but told The San Diego Union-Tribune that safety and emergency mechanisms remain operational. The district is currently investigating the incident and has notified law enforcement.

The threat comes shortly after several ransomware attacks targeted California’s education sector this year. A ransomware attack hit California’s largest school district Los Angeles Unified in September, rendering some of the district’s online platforms inaccessible and resulting in the release of some personal data online. The district did not pay ransom.

Kate Sequeira

Friday, December 2, 2022, 10:40 am

Link copied.Students treated for suspected overdoses at Los Angeles Unified middle school

Ten students were treated for suspected overdose Thursday at Van Nuys Middle School after exhibiting mild to moderate symptoms. The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to the incident, and searched the school alongside police officers to ensure all students were accounted for.

Seven of the 10 showing mild to moderate symptoms were transported to the hospital, according to the Los Angeles Times. All students are in stable condition, according Los Angeles Unified.

The fire department confirmed that the incident did not involve fentanyl but rather was suspected to be caused by cannabis. However, the investigation is still ongoing.

Instruction has continued as usual at Van Nuys Middle School, according to LAUSD, which said it requested medical assistance out of caution.

“We take the health and safety of our students very seriously,” the district wrote in a statement. “Every effort is made to ensure our students learn in a safe environment.”

Kate Sequeira

Thursday, December 1, 2022, 7:02 pm

Link copied.Sonoma County Office of Education buys property for educator housing

The Sonoma County Office of Education has purchased a piece of property for educator housing at 3280 Juniper Ave. in Santa Rosa for $630,000.

Office of Education officials plan to ask the city to rezone the property to allow the construction of a high-density housing project that will include at least 60 rental units for teachers and other public employees.

The housing, known as Casitas de Amarosa, will be next to Amarosa Academy, an alternative education campus that serves about 45 students in seventh through 12th grades who have experienced challenges in traditional school settings, according to SCOE.

The project was initiated by Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools Steven D. Herrington, who is retiring in December. It was delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Incoming  Superintendent Amie R. Carteris plans to prioritize building housing for educators as a way to make Sonoma County more affordable for prospective school employees.

“Building housing that school staff can afford is essential to our mission of serving students,” Carter said. “This housing will help us realize our goal of strengthening and diversifying our educational workforce.”

 

Diana Lambert

Thursday, December 1, 2022, 3:33 pm

Link copied.Covina Valley Unified strike averted

Covina Valley Unified School District averted a strike Wednesday after reaching a tentative agreement with its teachers union.

Teachers had announced they would strike today if they couldn’t come to a contract agreement with the district. The biggest sticking point was a hard cap on health benefits that would disparately impact new teachers, according to the California Teachers Association. The new agreement addresses those concerns, according to the union.

“We are deeply grateful not only for the hard work of the bargaining team, but for every CUEA member who has sacrificed their time, shown up at rallies and participated in organizing actions to help achieve this settlement,” said Adam Hampton, president of the Covina Unified Education Association. “I also want to thank the many parents and community members who let us know they support Covina Valley teachers. Teachers want to be in our classrooms with our students and are grateful. We’ve been determined to have the district make things right and today’s settlement begins to do just that.”

 

Diana Lambert

Thursday, December 1, 2022, 10:46 am

Link copied.Stanford University’s president investigated over research misconduct allegations

Stanford University’s president, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, is the focus of an investigation alleging multiple manipulated images were included in at least four neurobiology papers that he co-authored.

The investigation was announced soon after The Daily, the university student newspaper, reported the allegations, which have been raised repeatedly over several years and most recently highlighted by Elizabeth Bik, a biologist who also investigates science misconduct.

The university’s Board of Trustees, which Tessier-Lavigne is a member of, is overseeing the investigation, but a Stanford spokeswoman confirmed that he “will not be involved in the Board of Trustees’ oversight of the review,” according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

In 2015, Tessier-Lavigne submitted corrections to Science, where two of the papers in question were published. Science, however, did not publish them “due to an error on our part,” the Chronicle confirmed.

The timeline for the investigation remains unclear.

Betty Márquez Rosales

Thursday, December 1, 2022, 9:48 am

Link copied.Children who breathe polluted air can fall behind in school, study finds

Small children living in poor neighborhoods are more likely to be exposed to air pollution, which can harm their cognitive development, according to a study published Wednesday, as the Washington Post reported.  Increased exposure to airborne toxins during infancy, this research suggests, can reduce reading and math abilities and cause children to fall behind at school. While there are certainly other issues that affect school readiness, the study found that exposure to air pollutants accounted for a third of the impact compared with other factors.

It has long been established that poor communities are more often exposed to pollution than affluent communities, but this study, published in Science Advances, delves deeper into the impacts, exploring the intersection of class issues on early-childhood cognitive development, through the lens of air quality. In the study, researchers show the ways cognitive gaps are formed as early as 6 months and may be entrenched by age 2, long before children start school, said lead researcher Geoffrey Wodtke, associate director of the University of Chicago’s Stone Center for Research on Wealth Inequality and Mobility.

“The study is showing that children born into high-poverty neighborhoods are more likely to be exposed to many neurotoxic air pollutants, and that those differences in turn are linked with inequalities in early-childhood development, specifically reading and math abilities measured around the time of school entry,” Wodtke told the Washington Post.

Karen D'Souza

Thursday, December 1, 2022, 9:40 am

Link copied.Fresno teachers union pushing for free student laundry, lifetime health benefits in contract talks

Free laundry for students and lifetime health benefits for qualifying workers are among the proposals the Fresno Teachers Association is bringing to the table in contract negotiations with the Fresno Unified School district.

The Fresno Bee reported that the union is attempting to “change the system” itself. “Everything is really built around this idea of: How can we reimagine education? How can we do something different?” union President Manuel Bonilla told the newspaper. “How can we make sure that we’re valuing everybody in our system?”

Among the ideas are opening school parking lots overnight to homeless families of district children with paid security and purchasing hygiene products for students needing them, the Bee reported.

The proposal also asks that the district reset lifetime benefit qualification for employees hired before March 16, 2020, who work for FUSD for at least 20 years, and employees hired between March 17 and Aug. 1, 2023, who work at least 25 years.

The 26-page document proposes as much as a 7.26% raise plus 100% district-paid health care, up from the current 95/5 employer- to employee-covered ratio.

Not everyone is embracing the union’s progressive proposals in the negotiations.

“This is all throwing crap against the wall,” said outgoing trustee Terry Slatic, who’s been skeptical of FTA’s proposed investments for homeless students. “So that when they concede that we’re not going to give it to them,” he said, he expects FTA to push for demands in other areas.

EdSource staff

Thursday, December 1, 2022, 9:21 am

Link copied.10-month-old boy survives fentanyl overdose at San Francisco playground

A 10-month-old boy accidentally ingested fentanyl at a San Francisco playground Tuesday and was saved only when paramedics gave him the overdose-reversing medication Narcan, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The child’s father gave the newspaper a gut-wrenching account of the ordeal.

“I’m frankly ignorant to the fentanyl problem,” Ivan Matkovic said in a phone interview Wednesday. “I’m just a dad that something bad happened to. I just wanted to let people know that along with coyotes and RSV and COVID, this is another thing to add to your checklist of things that you’re looking out for because we weren’t.”

The child was at a playground in the city’s Marina District with his nanny. He was playing in a grassy area with leaves, where it is believed he came across the drug, ingested it, and went into cardiac arrest. He was treated at a hospital for more than six hours, where testing confirmed the drug was in his system, the newspaper reported.

EdSource staff

Wednesday, November 30, 2022, 8:09 am

Link copied.UC Health video series helps doctors care for Long Covid patients

University of California Health has developed a video education series to help health care providers screen and provide care to patients with post-Covid symptoms. The need for this care is expected to increase as about 1 in 5 Covid patients are affected by long Covid or post-acute sequelae SARS-CoV-2 infection.

“In California alone, there may be 2 million long-Covid patients, and it’s likely that the impact from this condition may increase already existing health inequities,” said Anne Foster, University of California Health’s vice president and chief clinical strategy officer.

The video education series brings together the knowledge of 12 academic health professionals across the UC system, including faculty and clinicians from UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego and UCSF. The content is available in individual video lectures or as a no-cost continuing medical education course.

“By educating, equipping and empowering more providers in the battle against the very real impact of long COVID/PASC, we are helping expand access to care for this condition,” said Foster.

Diana Lambert

Wednesday, November 30, 2022, 8:09 am

Link copied.Covina Valley teachers will strike tomorrow if no contract agreement is reached today

Covina Valley Unified School District teachers have formally announced they will go on strike Thursday if they can’t come to a contract agreement with the district today, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

The district’s teachers are asking for better pay and are opposed to a plan to put a hard cap on health benefits. District officials have said the cap on benefits is needed to keep the district fiscally sound, according to the article.

Covina Unified Education Association members overwhelmingly authorized the strike, with 96% voting yes, according to the California Teachers Association.

The strike would impact 13,000 students in Los Angeles County.

Diana Lambert

Tuesday, November 29, 2022, 11:09 am

Link copied.Child poverty rates spike after tax credit ends

Child poverty rates have crept back up since the expanded child tax credit expired, as The 19th reports, leaving many families struggling with food insecurity amid rising inflation.

More than 36 million families received the credit last year and the child poverty rate fell nearly in half, as the Los Angeles Times noted. Families often used the money to cover essentials such as groceries, rent, utility bills and child care.

After the payments expired last December, however, nearly 4 million children fell below the poverty line, research shows.  

“We basically saw an erosion of the gains that were made under the monthly child tax credit payments in 2021,” said Allison Bovell-Ammon, the director of policy and communications at Children’s Health Watch.

Conservative politicians have opposed the child benefit, however, arguing that it discourages parents from working.

Karen D'Souza

Tuesday, November 29, 2022, 10:11 am

Link copied.Alameda County families invited to learn about CalKIDS college savings program

California State Treasure Fiona Ma and Alameda County Superintendent of Schools L.K. Monroe will host more than 400 Alameda County families Tuesday in Hayward to enroll them in the California Kids Investment and Development Savings Program, or CalKIDS college savings account program.

Administered by the state’s ScholarShare Investment Board, CalKIDS provides accounts with $500 to $1,500 seed deposits for all low-income children in first through 12th grade. Enrollment is automatic, with eligibility based on the Local Control Funding Formula. Children born after July 1, 2022 are also eligible for up to $100.

Ma, Monroe and CalKIDS representatives will register families at the event, which is being held at the Alameda County Office Of Education main office, 313 West Winton Avenue, Hayward, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. Parents and caregivers can reserve their spot at the event at Anyone interested in attending this Town Hall may reserve their spot at www.acoe.org/calkids or www.acoe.org/register. The Office of Education will provide dinner for attendees and raffle off Golden State Warriors gear.

 

Ali Tadayon

Monday, November 28, 2022, 10:35 am

Link copied.Hundreds of UC faculty stop work in support of striking instructors

Weeks before final exams, hundreds of faculty members across the University of California announced they would not cross picket lines — by teaching or submitting grades — to show support for 48,000 graduate students and other instructors who’ve been on strike since Nov. 14.

“As long as this strike lasts, faculty across the system will be exercising their right to honor the picket line by refusing to conduct university labor up to and including submission of grades — labor that would not be possible without the labor of all other academic workers as well as university staff,” according to the announcement.

The instructors, who are represented by the United Auto Workers, are asking for higher salaries, better benefits and other improvements in working conditions. The strike, the country’s largest-ever such action on college campuses, is affecting all 10 UC campuses and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.

Carolyn Jones

Monday, November 28, 2022, 10:35 am

Link copied.Bellflower Unified hires Drati as new superintendent

Bellflower Unified’s board of education hired Ben Drati, the current superintendent of Santa Monica-Malibu Unified, to take over the district’s top administrative position beginning Jan. 1, the Press-Telegram reported.

Drati replaces Tracy McSparren, whom the board placed on leave in June amid a state audit accusing the district of mishandling its finances.

Drati signed a three-year contract with the district and will earn $295,000 a year.

“I am delighted to join the Bellflower community as your next superintendent,” Drati said. “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as steward over the most important job in the U.S., aside from parenting, and that is the education of our children. Where our children go is where we will go as a country and nation, so I take this responsibility with great care and I can’t wait to get started and to meet everyone.”

 

Carolyn Jones

Wednesday, November 23, 2022, 5:43 pm

Link copied.Teachers union backed candidates win election to Los Angeles Unified school board

Candidates Kelly Gonez and Rocio Rivas won the two seats up for election to the Los Angeles Unified school board, reflecting a growing influence from the teachers union on the board. Gonez won reelection to her district 6 seat, following a closer than expected race against teacher Marvin Rodriguez. Rivas, a senior aide for school board member Jackie Goldberg, follows termed out school board member Monica Garcia in district 2 after a run against InnerCity Struggle director Maria Brenes.

Currently, Gonez has just over 51% of the vote, in comparison to Rodriguez’s nearly 49%, and Rivas has more than 52% of the vote in comparison to Brenes’ nearly 48%. Brenes conceded Wednesday, while Rodriguez is waiting for all the votes to get counted.

Along with the rest of the seven-member school board, the two newly elected board members will tackle learning loss and declining enrollment, both issues exacerbated by the pandemic. Enrollment has continued to drop, impacting school funding, which depends on both enrollment and attendance. The pandemic has spotlighted disparities in learning throughout the district, particularly for Black and Latino students.

Kate Sequeira

Wednesday, November 23, 2022, 10:17 am

Link copied.Racial incident at Marin County high school spurs investigation

San Rafael High School officials are looking into an October incident in which a Black security guard knocked food from a student who had directed a racial slur toward him, leading to the school to place the security guard on leave amid a student outcry on his behalf, according to the Marin Independent Journal.

More than 1,000 students have signed a petition asking that the school reinstate the security guard, Royce Hughes, whom they said is a beloved figure on campus and was unfairly punished. The school’s Black Student Union organized the petition drive.

“Mr. Hughes has been a constant figure that we’ve grown to rely on, as well as the entire SR community,” the head of the Black Student Union, junior Marguerite Walden-Kaufman, wrote in the petition, noting that he’s one of the few Black staff members at the school. The students are also asking that the student who directed the slur undergo restorative justice and that the school do more to promote racial awareness and sensitivity on campus.

Principal Joe Dominguez said he was open to that.

“After many conversations with student and staff leaders, I believe we can provide more education and accountability around racist and hateful language,” Dominguez told the newspaper. “I’m grateful to have met with our Black Student Union this week, and they want to work together and find an expert to help our students and staff learn and address several issues.”

Carolyn Jones

Wednesday, November 23, 2022, 10:12 am

Link copied.$395 million school bond passes in Pleasanton

Pleasanton voters approved Measure I, a $395 million bond that will help pay for school facility improvements in the East Bay district, the Pleasanton Weekly reported.

Measure I passed with 57.18% of the vote. It needed 55% to win.

“We are both extremely grateful and humbled by these results,” Bill Butler, co-chair of the Yes on I campaign, told the Weekly. “We want to express our heartfelt thanks to the voters, our volunteers and the team we were able to assemble to advocate on behalf of the ‘Yes on I’ campaign. It was an honor of a lifetime to be aligned in supporting our teachers and students here in Pleasanton.”

The money will help pay for gym and theater projects at Amador Valley and Foothill high schools, new classrooms at Vintage Hills Elementary, and other projects. A previous school bond in 2020, Measure M, failed.

Carolyn Jones

Tuesday, November 22, 2022, 10:27 am

Link copied.Long Beach Unified, city officials to launch childhood experience survey

Long Beach Unified and the city’s Department of Health and Human Services announced they are launching a childhood experiences survey, the first in the city’s history, according to the Press-Telegram.

Beginning this month, the survey will be sent to parents and guardians of students currently enrolled in kindergarten. The purpose of the survey will be for officials to better understand the challenges facing families with young children, according to the newspaper.

The survey’s findings will then inform new strategies related to children and family services in Long Beach.

“Having access to data specific to Long Beach will build more equitable and culturally inclusive support systems for all young children and families in our city,” Kelly Colopy, director of the city’s health department, said in a statement.

Michael Burke

Tuesday, November 22, 2022, 10:17 am

Link copied.Sonoma Valley Unified superintendent leaves post after ‘separation agreement’ with board

Adrian Palazuelos abruptly left his post as superintendent of Sonoma Valley Unified after reaching a “separation agreement” with the district’s board, The Press Democrat reported.

“The board has reached a separation agreement with Dr. Palazuelos,” Trustee Anne Ching said following a closed session meeting of the board, according to the Press Democrat.

One of the trustees who voted against the agreement, John Kelly, cited a payout to Palazuelos as well as a “a nondisparagement agreement” that was included in the deal.

“The presence of a payout to Adrian Palazuelos was the primary reason I voted against the contract,” Kelly told the Press Democrat. “I also voted against the contract because it includes a nondisparagement agreement clause, which I think limits the public’s ability to learn about Adrian Palazuelos’ behavior and my ability to comment on the same.”

Michael Burke

Monday, November 21, 2022, 9:58 am

Link copied.Students had warned school about Danville teacher now facing molestation charges

Students at San Ramon Valley High School in Danville had warned administrators about a teacher’s inappropriate behavior prior to his arrest for molestation, the Mercury News reported.

A public records request by the newspaper found that several students had complained about biology teacher Nicholas Moseby, 41, who also coached the cheerleading squads. In one incident, Moseby allegedly whispered to two freshmen girls, “You are lucky you guys are hot,” the newspaper reported.

Moseby, a first-year teacher, was arrested in September and charged with child molestation, multiple counts of lewd acts upon a child, and sending a lewd video to a girl. He is currently being held at Contra Costa County jail.

Prior to his arrest, district officials transferred Moseby to a nearby middle school.

“San Ramon Valley administrators knew about inappropriate sexual abuse in the classroom because female students made several written complaints against him,” the victims’ attorney Jason Runckel, told the Mercury News. “The San Ramon Valley High School administrators ignored the complaints.”

District spokesperson Tammy Herley said the district is investigating the matter.

“Following this situation and as part of our commitment to continuous improvement, we are reviewing with all administration and staff the critical importance of prompt and proper responses to a student’s concerns,” Herley wrote in an email to the newspaper.

Carolyn Jones

Monday, November 21, 2022, 9:58 am

Link copied.San Bernardino County school district to pay $15 million in asthma lawsuit

Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified School District has agreed to pay more than $15 million to the family of a middle school student who died of an asthma attack on campus in 2019, USA Today reported.

The settlement, announced by the family’s attorney over the weekend, also requires the district to train its staff on how to care for students with asthma and take other health and safety measures. The district did not admit wrongdoing.

The lawsuit stems from an incident in October 2019 when Adilene Carrasco, 13, accompanied her class on a Halloween celebration at the school field. When she felt short of breath, the teacher allowed Adilene and a classmate to return to the classroom for an inhaler. Adilene still struggled to breathe after returning to the field, and the teacher told the pair to go to the nurse’s office, according to the suit. Adilene collapsed on the way, and was hospitalized. She died nine days later after doctors declared her brain dead.

“It’s not about the money,” Edith Sepulveda, Adilene’s mother, told USA Today. “It’s for this not to happen to another family… if I can prevent another family from having to go through what we’re going through, then that would be my mission.”

Carolyn Jones

Friday, November 18, 2022, 6:05 pm

Link copied.Man dies after September shooting at Oakland school

One of six people hospitalized in a September shooting at an Oakland school died Thursday.

David Sakurai was a carpenter for Oakland Unified, and was working at Rudsdale High School on Sept. 28 when shooters fired more than 30 rounds in the school’s entrance. Police said the shooting was related to ongoing gang violence in the city, and that none of the six people who were shot were the shooters’ intended targets.

District officials identified the victim only by first name. ABC 7 news identified him as Sakurai.

In a statement Thursday, district officials said Sakurai worked for the district for 18 years, and was involved in several projects to “upgrade and beautify” campuses across the district. On the day of the shooting, Sakurai was installing new countertops.

Sakurai was well-known for his sense of humor and camaraderie, and his colleagues “never saw him upset about anything,” the statement said.

“Our community mourns the loss of an OUSD hero and will be forever grateful for David’s nearly two decades of service of our students, families staff and schools,” the district said.

 

 

Ali Tadayon

Friday, November 18, 2022, 10:42 am

Link copied.UC schools lag in returning human remains and artifacts to tribes

The University of California is slow to return human remains and cultural artifacts to Indigenous tribes, despite recent improvements, according to a state auditor in a report released Thursday. Four UC schools maintain large collections of items, some of which the system has had for centuries.

This is the second report in three years the state auditor has released about UC system’s compliance with the 1990 federal law and 2001 state law requiring the return of human remains and cultural artifacts, according to The Sacramento Bee.

According to the report, the current pace would mean that it would take at least a decade to return all of the items. The Sacramento Bee reported that UC Berkeley has directed more funding toward the effort and repatriated some remains and cultural items to the Wiyot people in January, who live in Humboldt Bay. However, a long road remains ahead.

Kate Sequeira

Friday, November 18, 2022, 10:42 am

Link copied.Union-backed members to control San Dieguito Union school board

The majority on the San Dieguito Union school board is now in the hands of union-backed members as the district community aims to move on from the tumultuous last two years. Two union-backed candidates are heading toward a win, promising a return to civility following controversy over reopening schools, redistricting and other issues.

Candidates Rimga Viskanta and Jane Lea Smith are ahead of their Republican-endorsed opponents, while Republican-endorsed candidate Phan Anderson has likely also won a seat on the five-member board. Still, union-backed candidates control three seats.

The district, which serves middle and high school students across San Diego’s coastal North County, has gone through multiple superintendents over the last few years. Both members of the board and superintendents have been under fire for comments they have made about transgender and Asian students in addition to clashing over district issues.

Kate Sequeira

Thursday, November 17, 2022, 12:15 pm

Link copied.Regents delay decision on UCLA’s move to Big Ten until December

The University of California’s board of regents has delayed a decision until December on whether to prohibit UCLA from moving its athletics programs to the Big Ten Conference.

The regents initially were expected to take action on the issue during a meeting Thursday but announced that they will instead hold a special session on Dec. 14, when UCLA’s fate will be determined. UCLA and the University of Southern California announced in June that they plan to move to the Big Ten in 2024.

“We now have a special meeting coming up in a few weeks. What we will have the opportunity to do in the interim is to evaluate the information that’s been presented by the campus,” UC President Michael Drake said Thursday. “If we develop further questions, we will then answer those questions, and then we’ll be able to make a report to the regents at that special meeting.”

The regents and Gov. Gavin Newsom have expressed concern about the implications the move will have for UC Berkeley, which along with UCLA is currently a member of the Pac-12 Conference. The Pac-12 conference and its remaining members could lose millions in revenue once USC and UCLA leave, since its next television contract would be unlikely to be as lucrative as its current contract.

Michael Burke

Thursday, November 17, 2022, 11:39 am

Link copied.U.S. secretary of education praises California after-school programs on 20th anniversary of Proposition 49

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger joined students at a school in Los Angeles County on Wednesday to promote Cardona’s efforts to expand after-school programming and celebrate the 20th anniversary of a California measure led by Schwarzenegger that dedicated more funding to it.

Cardona is pushing schools to allocate their federal Covid-19 funds toward extracurriculars like those showcased at the Bell Gardens Intermediate School, which is in the Montebello Unified district in the Southeast Los Angeles area. Students welcomed the two with a dance performance and showed off their drumming and robotics skills acquired in the after-school program.

Schwarzenegger championed Proposition 49, which California voters approved in 2002 to allocate more than $400 million to elementary and middle schools to provide safe spaces and activities for students after school.

According to Cardona, California spends more on after-school programming than the other 49 states combined. He said he is urging other states to follow suit and prioritize it. As the midterm election brings change to Congress, including a Republican majority to the House, Cardona said he hopes Congress will not view education as a partisan issue.

“Our goal is not just to recover from the last two years, but to really give students more opportunities to thrive, to be engaged, to go on to postsecondary education,” Cardona said. “That takes a commitment on both sides of the aisle.”

Kate Sequeira

Thursday, November 17, 2022, 11:14 am

Link copied.Dolls with ‘dark complexions’ found hanging at Saratoga schools; hate-crime investigations underway

Hate-crime investigations are underway at the Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District and the Saratoga Union School District in Santa Clara County after dolls described to have a “dark complexion” were found hanging at three schools, CBS Bay Area reported.

“Hate has no place in Santa Clara County,” acting county Sheriff Ken Binder said Wednesday. “The Sheriff’s Office will thoroughly investigate these incidents and request prosecution of the offenders to the fullest extent of the law.” The Sheriff’s Office described the incidents as “heinous acts.”

The dolls were found at Prospect High School, Saratoga High School and Redwood Middle School earlier this week.

“On Sunday morning, students practicing music on campus discovered an African-American doll hanging from a tree by a noose in the main quad” at Saratoga High School, Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School Superintendent Bill Sanderson, wrote in an email that CBS obtained.

“We cannot state strongly enough that a noose is a reprehensible symbol of hate and violence and will not be tolerated in our district. As a community, we must stand united against such conduct and those who perpetrate it,” Saratoga Union Superintendent Ken Geisick said of a doll found hanging at Redwood Middle School.

Thomas Peele

Thursday, November 17, 2022, 9:54 am

Link copied.UC Irvine professor spent $400,000 of school funds on cameras used for Instagram posts

A UC Irvine medical school professor spent $400,000 of public funds for cameras he used for Instagram posts, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The professor, Frank P.K. Hsu,  often used “suspicious” or “unauthorized” means to make the purchases, auditors found, according to the Times. The university pays him $1.2. million a year.

Auditors also discovered that Hsu had a personal website on which he had hundreds of photos for sale, some priced at hundreds of dollars, according to the newspaper.

A UCI spokesman told the Times that Hsu had now repaid the university $404,000 and that “appropriate corrective measures” were taken.

But an ethicist said if the same unauthorized purchases had happened at a private company, the employee “almost certainly would be fired.”

“When the consequences are nothing more than, ‘Oh, you got caught so say you’re sorry and give it back, it sends the wrong message,” Michael Josephson, head of the Josephson Institute of Ethics in Playa del Rey, told the Times

“The consequences should be significant enough that somebody in a similar situation would say it’s not worth it,” he said.

Thomas Peele

Wednesday, November 16, 2022, 11:10 am

Link copied.Los Angeles Unified consolidates administrative offices

Los Angeles Unified is consolidating its six local districts into four regional offices as part of an effort to streamline administrative functions. It’s the first phase of administrative change as LAUSD aims to shape its central offices to better work toward the district’s new goals.

The consolidation will save the district $40 million, which will go toward its academic priorities, said Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who joined the district nine months ago. He said the change won’t affect students this year. LAUSD is the second largest district in the nation, serving more than 420,000 students across Los Angeles and other neighboring cities throughout the county. 

According to Nery Paiz, president of the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, who spoke at Tuesday’s board meeting, the impact for school site administrators is also not yet clear.

Carvalho announced the new plan Tuesday alongside some shifting within his cabinet. Former Local District Central Superintendent Frances Baez is LAUSD’s new chief academic officer following Alison Yashimoto-Towery’s departure, and former Local District Northeast Superintendent Andres Chait is the district’s new chief operations officer. Chief of staff Pedro Salcido has also been promoted to deputy superintendent.

Kate Sequeira

Wednesday, November 16, 2022, 10:05 am

Link copied.Chico State wins $13.4 million grant to boost rural Northern California teacher workforce

Chico State’s School of Education won a $13.4 million, three-year grant to provide financial aid and other incentives to students in 12 Northern California counties who want to become teachers in their communities.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Education will cover financial aid, test fees and other costs for more than 700 high school students in dual enrollment programs, undergraduates, credential candidates and master’s degree students. The grant is intended to lure students to the teaching profession, as well as help alleviate the teacher shortage in Northern California’s rural counties.

“This grant is specifically designed to (eliminate barriers to becoming a teacher) by providing financial and social support to underserved students in our region through a ‘grow your own’ program, which is designed to help students across our region stay in our region, give back to our communities, and enjoy careers dedicated to transforming students’ lives right here in the North State,” said Ben Seipel, graduate program coordinator for the university’s school of education.

The grant is available to students from Butte, Shasta, Tehama, Modoc, Siskiyou, Colusa, Glenn, Lassen, Trinity, Plumas, Sutter and Yuba counties.

Carolyn Jones

Wednesday, November 16, 2022, 10:05 am

Link copied.School bond in Modesto still winning — barely

A $198 million bond measure in Modesto is still on track to pass, after election officials released the latest vote counts Tuesday, according to the Modesto Bee.

Measure L had  27,411 votes, or 55.5%. The measure needs 55% to pass.

Put forth by the Modesto City High School District, the measure would help pay for upgrades to classrooms, lab equipment, roof and plumbing repairs and other improvements.

The district has seven high schools serving 15,600 students. Most of the high schools are more than 50 years old and are in dire need of upgrades and modernization, supporters argued.

“Our high schools are at the heart of our community and prepare students to compete in top colleges and careers in today’s competitive global economy,” according to the district website. “To maintain high-quality instruction for local students, updates are needed to classrooms, technology and science labs so students graduate with the skills needed for competitive 21st century careers.”

 

Carolyn Jones

Wednesday, November 16, 2022, 10:03 am

Link copied.New president to lead San Jose State

The California State University board of trustees announced Wednesday that Cynthia Teniente-Matson will be the next president of San Jose State University.

Teniente-Matson is currently president of Texa A&M University-San Antonio.

“(San José State) serves as an exemplar for research and discovery with graduates impacting industries and communities throughout Silicon Valley,” said Teniente-Matson. “I am grateful for this opportunity to work alongside all of the talented and dedicated faculty, staff, administrators and friends of the university to accomplish our collective goal of providing opportunities for students to benefit from the transformative power of an SJSU education.”

Prior to her presidential tenure in Texas, Teniente-Matson served as a vice president for administration and chief financial officer of Fresno State from 2004 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, an MBA from the University of Alaska-Anchorage and a doctorate in educational leadership from Fresno State.

The board unanimously approved an annual salary of $474,840 for Teniente-Matson. She will be required to live in the official university residence for the president and receive a $1,000 monthly car allowance.

Teniente-Matson will begin her San Jose State tenure on Jan. 16.

Ashley A. Smith

Tuesday, November 15, 2022, 10:14 am

Link copied.Federal appeals court blocks Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan

A federal appeals court in St. Louis issued an injunction on Monday blocking President Joe Biden’s student debt forgiveness plan, the latest legal loss for the effort.

According to The New York Times, the three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit ruled that the government can’t cancel debts while the court considers a lawsuit brought against the plan by six Republican-led states.

The states have argued that Biden skirted congressional authority by attempting to cancel the debts.

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement Monday that the Biden administration is “confident in our legal authority for the student debt relief program” and that it plans to “continue to fight these baseless lawsuits by Republican officials and special interests.”

Michael Burke

Tuesday, November 15, 2022, 10:13 am

Link copied.San Rafael City Schools superintendent to retire

Jim Hogeboom, the superintendent of San Rafael City Schools in Marin County, plans to retire effective June 30.

“I have been truly fortunate to be able to have a career in education that has never felt like work, but always brought me joy and made me feel like I was doing something important by helping to improve teaching and learning for all of our students,” Hogeboom said in a statement, according to the Marin Independent Journal.

Hogeboom entered a four-year contract with the district in 2019. Prior to that, he was superintendent of the nearby Novato Unified School District.

He added that he plans to relocate his family to Indiana “to begin a new chapter in our lives in a new locale,” according to the Journal.

Michael Burke

Monday, November 14, 2022, 3:31 pm

Link copied.California Community colleges board elects new president, vice president

The board of governors for California’s community college system on Monday elected Amy Costa to serve as the board president for 2023 and Hildegarde Aguinaldo to serve as vice president.

Costa, currently the board’s vice president, was previously the chief deputy director for budget at the state’s Department of Finance. She has been on the board since 2018. She will succeed Pamela Haynes as president.

“I’m honored to be selected by my colleagues,” Costa said in a statement. “I look forward to our continuing to work on behalf of our students. As we begin to feel economic headwinds, our continuing mission to ensure our decisions are centered around our students and their needs is paramount.”

Aguinaldo has been on the 17-member board since 2018 and is currently the assistant general counsel for DaVita, which provides kidney dialysis.

“As leaders, it is imperative that we meet these crucial times with the energy, inquisitiveness, collaboration, and determination to improve student success and strengthen our state,” Aguinaldo said in a statement.

Michael Burke

Monday, November 14, 2022, 10:08 am

Link copied.Most of state’s schools have interior safety locks, survey finds

A survey of California’s schools conducted by KCRA found that 70% of districts that responded to a survey have interior locks in classrooms, a safety feature that could protect students and teachers during a shooting.

Interior locks allow a teacher to lock the door without stepping into the hallway, potentially putting themselves and their students at risk. Teachers unions have asked schools to install interior locks for years, KCRA reported.

“We’ve been advocating for these type of locks back to probably 2007, 2008,” Jeff Freitas, president of the California Federation of Teachers union, told KCRA. “Door locks are an easy, simple — not necessarily cheap — but cost-effective way to provide that safety.”

Several large districts, including Sacramento City Unified and Stockton Unified, have been slow to install interior locks in all classrooms. At both districts, fewer than half of classrooms have them, according to the report.

Carolyn Jones

Monday, November 14, 2022, 9:45 am

Link copied.48,000 academic workers walk off the job at UC

Thousands of teaching assistants, researchers, tutors and other academic workers went on strike Monday at all 10 campuses of the University of California plus Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, demanding better pay and other benefits.

The strike comes amid union contracts talks with the university, according to the Los Angeles Times. Union members are asking for salary increases, better health insurance for dependents, childcare subsidies, transit passes, lower tuition for international students and improved accommodations for people with disabilities.

The strike will affect classes and research at every campus, including those conducting midterm exams.

“We are negotiating with the university around the clock and listening to all their offers,” said Rafael Jaime, president of UAW 2865, which represents almost half of the workers. “We’re going to be out here as long as it takes.”

Carolyn Jones

Thursday, November 10, 2022, 11:41 am

Link copied.State announces four new planning grants to streamline transition from education to career

The state announced the recipients of $1 million in planning grants aimed at streamlining the transition from K-12 schools to college and career.

The Department of General Services announced that it would be awarding $250,000 each to collaboratives in the Bay Area, Central Coast, Northern San Joaquin and Eastern Sierra regions.

The Regional K-16 Education Collaboratives Grant Program is a $250 million program that boosts collaboration between local K-12 schools, higher education institutions and employers. Collaboratives must commit to creating at least two occupational pathways in health care, education, business management, engineering and computing. Each collaborative must focus on closing equity gaps.

“Statewide representation in this collaborative effort will maximize the program resources to ensure that all regions have an opportunity to enhance and streamline efforts to prepare students for meaningful careers and address equity issues,” said General Services Director Ana Lasso, in a statement.

The regions represent the four remaining areas of the state that have not received funding through previous rounds of funding announced in May and August:

  • The Bay Area K-16 Collaborative includes as its partners Chabot-Las Positas Community College District, Hayward Unified School District, CSU East Bay and UC Berkeley, in addition to local employers, organizations and other stakeholders.
  • The Central Coast K-16 Education includes Pajaro Valley Unified School District, Ventura County Community College District, CSU Monterey Bay and UC Santa Barbara.
  • The Eastern Sierra region aims to connect a large and fragmented region with partners Columbia College, Sonora Union High School District, CSU Stanislaus and UC Merced.
  • WE Will! is a new collaborative in the Northern San Joaquin Valley that brings together UC Merced, Merced College, San Joaquin Delta College, CSU Stanislaus, Modesto City Schools, Merced Union High School District, Lodi Unified School District and Le Grand Union High School.
Emma Gallegos

Thursday, November 10, 2022, 10:40 am

Link copied.Former S.F Giants slugger whiffs in Southern California school board election

Among those who struck out in Tuesday’s local school board elections across California was former San Francisco Giants slugger Aubrey Huff, who was routed in his effort to win a seat on the board of the Solana Beach School District in San Diego County, Sports Illustrated and other news outlets reported.

Huff, who in his retirement from baseball has tried to become something of a far-right political provocateur and commentator, lost to the board’s sitting vice president, Debra Schade, 1,505 votes to 362 in the two-person race. The district operates seven elementary schools.

Sports Illustrated pointed out that Huff’s 19.4.% of the vote was nearly as bad as his .192 batting average in his final season in the majors in 2012.

Little was known about Huff’s campaign platform. The Del Mar Times, which profiled the candidates, reported Huff could not be reached for an interview. His personal website makes no mention of his candidacy.

Citing Huff’s offensive political positions, including his unabridged support of Donald Trump, and offensive comments about women, the Giants banned Huff in 2020 from attending a 10-year reunion of the franchise’s 2010 World Series championship team. Huff  “has made multiple comments on social media that are unacceptable and run counter to the values of our organization,” a team spokesman said in a statement at the time.

Twitter also permanently banned Huff in 2021 for repeatedly tweeting false information about Covid-19 vaccines. He had also tweeted violent threats against former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Thomas Peele

Thursday, November 10, 2022, 10:36 am

Link copied.Cellphone ban at Fresno high school met with pushback

A Fresno high school has instituted a new cellphone ban in classrooms, and the school community is not happy about it, The Fresno Bee reported Thursday.

The policy’s start date at Bullard High School got pushed back several times this school year.

Administrators stressed that the goal of the policy is to reduce distractions in the classroom. But some students questioned whether an ulterior motive behind the policy had to do with a racist photo taken in the high school’s weight room in May, which sparked student walkouts and demands for accountability, The Bee reported.

Hundreds of replies flooded the comment section of Bullard’s announcement ban on Instagram, The Bee reported. “So basically you won’t listen to your student body, parents or alumni about an issue that concerns everyone?” one commenter posted. “Let’s see how long this lasts,” another wrote. “You are worried about phones instead let’s focus more on our child’s education and their well-being with all the school threats. This is ridiculous. I’m a parent and am not for this at all.”

The policy became a talking point for candidates as well in the hotly contested race for the Bullard-area seat on Fresno Unified’s school board in Tuesday’s election, the Bee reported.

EdSource staff