Hart board discusses racism, school plans for student achievement

The William S. Hart Union High School District office
The William S. Hart Union High School District office
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Amid national and local protests to raise awareness, nearly four dozen individuals submitted comments addressing the same topic, calling for more multicultural, anti-racist curriculum within Santa Clarita Valley junior highs and high schools at a Wednesday board meeting.

The comments were all aimed at a William S. Hart Union High School District governing board meeting agenda item titled “School Plans for Student Achievement: 2020/21,” which discussed how five schools within the school district, which receive Title I funding, will achieve their student achievement goals in the next calendar year.

A Title I school is a school with a large percentage of children from low-income families that qualifies for government funds to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards.

The comments received by the board generally discussed an emphasis on multicultural education and cultural expansion in school site activities, according to Debbie Dunn, executive assistant to Hart District Superintendent Mike Kuhlman.

Each of the 46 comments submitted contained the same sentence: “With that being said, I urge you not to approve the school plans until we see revisions that reflect the needs of our community.”

The agenda item belonged to the consent calendar portion of the agenda, meaning that board members would vote on all the items listed under that section in a block.

However, Kuhlman directly addressed this particular item and student concerns about it, encouraging those who commented and organized to learn about their schools’ individual site councils.

Kuhlman said the site plans the board would vote on are not only required by law to be voted upon, but also that they can be modified throughout the year.

“On a somewhat regular basis, we bring everybody back, and there are revisions to the plan from various school sites as they take this plan and modify based upon new feedback that comes from the site council,” said Kuhlman. “For those students that have expressed a desire for more direct input on how these resources (Title I funding) are spent, there is a requirement that decision is made at each school site by what’s called a school site council.”

Kuhlman then invited the concerned students to reach out to Jan Daisher, the district’s director of special programs and professional development, to learn more about the school site council process and to see how they can make recommendations and modifications through the year.

Board member Cherise Moore suggested that the site councils examine how each school can have more culturally responsive or culturally relevant field trips, performances and training, among other things.

The board then voted unanimously to adopt the consent calendar, including the agenda item involving next year’s student achievement goals.

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