Is the Beaumont Unified School District serious about involving parents?

In the June 18, 2009 Record Gazette's Letters to the Editor, Mike Sturman, the district's reporter/photographer accused me of "putting out incendiary information" referring to remarks I made on OurFocusOurKids.com. The remark he was referring to was when I said the district would be making important decisions "with no input from parents and that was the way they wanted it". Following is a summary of some of the events which lead me to this conclusion. Read them for yourself and see if you agree.

  • At the Budget Review Committee meeting on June 16, the committee was discussing how best to notify parents and the community that the board would be voting on the 09-10 budget at the June 23rd board meeting. A district employee suggested the district use their automated phone messaging system. The response from the superintendent and an assistant superintendent was that they weren't prepared for that. They explained they were meeting the legal requirements by posting the agenda at the district office, having a copy of the budget in the library and placing an announcement in newspapers public notice sections. Other suggestions to use the district's website or to issue a press release to the local newspapers were met with similar responses.

  • Districts and schools that receive Title I money from the Federal government are required by law to have written parent involvement policies in place for the district and each school site that receives federal money. The law requires these policies to be developed with parents and they are supposed to be reviewed and updated annually. The district's policy is three years old and is a template from the California School Board Association's website. It obviously has not been developed with parental input. I've brought this to the attention of the administration several times and they have done nothing to bring their policy in to compliance.

  • Each year the district provides each new School Site Council Member a handbook in which they state they will provide site council training so members will be able to fulfill their responsibilities. When I asked the administration about why we hadn't received this training, they responded with a class designed for district employees; it was focused on following the legal requirements for holding SSC meetings. No serious attempt was made to notify parents. Our site council was given 4 hours notice to the first class and 2 days notice to the second one. I was the only parent of 23 attendees in my class that was not an employee of the district. When I complained to the district, they responded by scheduling a series of useful classes but failed to complete the series.

  • The Brookside School Site Council approved $300 in Title I funds to purchase a parent involvement toolkit to help our school increase parent involvement but the district refused to release the funds due to a spending freeze. In the board meeting where I asked them to consider allowing our Title I funds to be released, they authorized $8,000 for new computer equipment and hotel accommodations for district employees to attend a conference. The $300 was never released.

  • The district established an Independent Citizen's Oversight Committee for Measure Z with no public notice of how or where to apply. When I brought this to the administration's attention, the superintendent responded that they had "satisfied all the minimum legal requirements".

  • The district repeatedly lets their website agenda and minutes page go for months without posting board meeting minutes and agendas. They also will not use their website for notices of public hearings. They expect parents to drive to the district office and read the notices posted on the windows or to find the notices in newspaper public notice sections buried among hundreds of other notices.