Parent Involvement, Accountability & State Politics

In this week's board meeting there were a few interesting moments. In my opinion, three topics important to our parents were discussed. These topics were parent involvement, administration accountability, and state budget politics. I know it comes as no surprise that I have much to say on each of these topics. I will address them separately over the next week. Today I will start with parent involvement.

Before the regular meeting began, the administration made a 30 minute presentation of all the "parent involvement" programs they have in place. I skipped this because I knew what to expect and it really had nothing to do with getting parents involved. They presented a list of all the "classes" and "programs" they are providing for the parents of the district. We have seen this list many times before and I expected nothing new. They still don't get it.

Parents want to be more involved in what is happening to our kids' programs and services, not programs for parents. We want to provide input in the decisions the district makes, before they make them. We want to be able to attend board meetings and committee meetings when it is convenient for us, when we aren't at work. We want childcare provided so we can attend the board meetings and committee meetings and be truly involved in what is happening in our school district. We want lines of communication between the district and parents improved. We want to be able to tell our board members and administrators what we think about salary increases to our administrators before they are granted. We want to work with teachers to provide the board and the administration our vision of the future of OUR KIDS' educational opportunities.

Cheryl Burge addressed the failure of the administration to solicit parent input and involvement. She expressed many of the same concerns I have been talking about over the last few years. I want to thank Cheryl for regularly attending the board meetings and making sure her voice is heard.

Our board voted 5-0 at the beginning of the school year to approve the administration regulation and board policy addressing parent involvement. The policy and regulation explicitly instructs the administration to work with parents to develop a plan to improve parent involvement. This has not happened.

If you have been following my posts, you know I sent an email to the State Superintendent of Education, Tom Torlakson, regarding the failure of the district to involve parents in developing a parent involvement plan as required by the Federal No Child Left Behind Title I Law. I recently heard back from Mr Torlakson. He informed me that before his office can address our concerns, I need to file an official UCP complaint with the district. Once the district determines my complaint is baseless, and they will, then I can begin the appeal process, and I will.

Below is a copy of the complaint I will be submitting to the district this week. In order not to be accused of always being negative, I will once again present my proposal to a solution. I will present that proposal here tomorrow.

**************************************************************************UCP Complaint

I am filing this UCP Complaint and submitting it to the Beaumont Unified School District April 15, 2011. I believe the district is in violation of the Federal No Child Left Behind Title I Law and the BUSD board policy 6020.

The No Child Left Behind Title I law requires the district to "demonstrate a commitment to work with parents" and adopt parent involvement policies "jointly developed with parents." Title I regulations require districts receiving Title I funds to annually work with parents to develop a district wide policy and a plan to increase parent involvement.

Beaumont Unified School's board's policy states:

The Superintendent or designee shall regularly evaluate and report to the Board on the effectiveness of the district's parent involvement efforts, including, but not limited to, input from parents/guardians and school staff on the adequacy of parent involvement opportunities and barriers that may inhibit parent/guardian participation.(cf. 0500 - Accountability)

BUSD's policy, and Title I regulations, require the district to work with parents to develop a district wide plan to improve parent involvement and to annually review and monitor this plan. BUSD policy, and Title I regulations, require annual monitoring and modifications to improve the effectiveness of plan.

Having programs and resources available for parents does not constitute a Title I compliant parent involvement policy. The district has a written policy and offer valuable programs but there is no focus and no coordinated effort to increase parent involvement. While it has been demonstrated there are programs and resources offered by the district for parents, there is no plan developed with parents in place to increase parent involvement.

Lloyd WhiteParent Brookside Elementary