Class Notes

Education and school news, observations and gossip from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune and Whittier Daily News

Class Notes

Parents begin opting out; superintendent’s Power Point goes awry

In case you missed the story today, Monday, March 12, some parents from the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District are opting their children out of statewide assessment tests. Thy are doing this in protest of the HLPUSD’s early start program.

I was told that Superintendent Barbara Nakaoka was to give a detailed defense of the program at the last board meeting on March 8. But her Power Point presentation did not work. Instead, she summarized some of her points.

But the Power Point presentation was posted online on the district’s website.

Here’s the story:

Parents at Hacienda La Puente school district opt children out of state tests in protest

By Steve Scauzillo, SGVN


Several parents have sent letters to schools in the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District saying their children will not be taking the upcoming state standardized tests that determine a school’s API score.

The boycott is in protest of the district’s decision to institute an early calendar year that cuts into family vacations and requires students to be in class during the hotter months of the year, parents say.

Documents show the parents participating in the boycott have children at Los Molinos Elementary School in Hacienda Heights.

“There are still more coming in. We are even hearing from parents at the high schools,” said Manuel Acosta, a leader of the loose-knit group Concerned Parents of Hacienda La Puente Unified School District.

The group has repeatedly spoken against the early start school year, saying it won’t benefit the district’s 21,000 pre-K-12 students, will hurt the school’s Average Daily Attendance (ADA) and funding, and is only being done at the behest of some labor groups.

The school board by a 4-1 vote approved the early start calender in December. The 2002-13 school year will begin Aug. 8 and end May 21, 2013. The beginning of the school year is two weeks earlier than in previous years. In 2013-14, school will start Aug. 7 and end around the same time in May, instead of late June.

The district has said the early start will give students longer to prepare for tests and help high school students focus


on AP tests by separating them from other tests. By ending the first semester at winter break, homework and group assignments will not stretch into the break. And ending sooner “allows high school students to get a jump on summer jobs,” according to the district’s website.

Acosta said he’s seen opt-out letters for five students attending three different schools, including Los Molinos as well as Los Altos Elementary School and Newton Middle School.

As of Friday, emailed letters obtained by this newspaper were only from parents with children at Los Molinos. If the district reverses its early start calendar vote, the parents indicated they would allow their students to take the standardized tests.

Acosta said the group has asked the school board to revisit the issue. They have formally asked for the early calendar to be placed on a future board meeting agenda. It’s not clear whether the item will be on the agenda of the next meeting March 22.

Board member Jay Chen, who supports the early calendar, objected to the group’s boycott tactic. “I don’t think they should be using their children’s education as bargaining chips,” he said in an interview last week.

In a district survey last year, almost two-thirds of respondents said they “did not like” the early calendar, while only 34 percent indicated they “like it.” The district said the number of survey responses was too small for the results to be significant.

626-962-8811 Ext. 2237

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About Steve Scauzillo

I love journalism. I've been working in journalism for 32 years. I love communicating and now, that includes writing about environment, transportation and the foothill/Puente Hills communities of Hacienda Heights, Rowland Heights, Walnut and Diamond Bar. I write a couple of columns, one on fridays in Opinion and the other, The Green Way, in the main news section. Send me ideas for stories. Or comments. I was opinion page editor for 12 years so I enjoy a good opinion now and then.