After 14 years, Saugus High School has decided to end its Chinese language program in the 2018-19 school year, according to a Jan. 25 email sent by the high school’s administration.
“The only thing that I know is that there was low interest in the class so, because of that, it is planned right now to be discontinued,” said Dave Caldwell, public relations officer for the William S. Hart Union High School District.
The decision has frustrated and upset parents with children in the program, who say the four-year program and partnership with Saugus’ sister school Gaoxin No. 1 High School in Xi’an China has enriched the lives of students since its inception.
“Over 200 students have been exchanged between these two schools. I have two daughters currently enrolled in this program,” Saugus High School parent Erwin Hermann said. “A lot of parents and students, including myself, are very upset over this cancellation.”
To protest this decision and expression their concerns to Hart district administration, several parents and students plan to attend the Hart district Governing Board meeting Wednesday night and provide public comment following Saugus Principal Vince Ferry’s scheduled school site presentation to the board about the school’s goals and unique programs.
“I cannot speak for others, but I and both my daughters will be signing up to speak regarding item 5 (Ferry’s presentation) on the agenda,” Hermann said. “We plan on emphasizing how this program has changed our lives and bring attention to the admission issues.”
Other parents are expected to express frustration about a lack of communication from the high school’s administration about the reasons for ending the program.
“There’s no explanation given, and when my daughters and their friends tried to ask they were told they couldn’t discuss it with them,” Hermann said. “My letter to the principal was never answered, and other parents I have spoken to were unable to get any answers from the administration.”
An email sent to parents in January states that students who want to continue pursuing Chinese as their foreign language requirement for university admissions would “need to explore options outside of Saugus High School.”
They were also invited to start a different foreign language program, like French or Spanish, to meet Cal State and UC admission requirements; however, parents of students involved in the Chinese language program said this is not a feasible option.
“As if you can simply drop a four-year Chinese Language Program after two years and pick up another language with just two years remaining till graduating,” Hermann said.
Hermann and other parents hope their pleas to the administration and the board will inspire Saugus High School to recant its decision to cancel the program.
“Now both of my daughters that are there want to transfer out to SCVi because of this decision to cancel this class that is so important for them,” Hermann said. “I hope that they will reconsider canceling this because I am convinced that learning Mandarin is going to give them a competitive advantage in whatever future they head into.”
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