I read the Nov. 3 article entitled, “Community members bemoan lack of progress in Hart District negotiation with teachers.” I agree that it is disappointing that our teachers and the William S. Hart Union High School District have not reached a contract agreement yet. I further agree that in order to attract and keep the best teachers possible, our district needs to pay them what they are worth. As a parent of two students currently enrolled in the district, and two who have already graduated, I know how important good teachers are. California ranks 49th in the nation for literacy, and students who lost almost two years of in-person instruction are still trying to recover from significant COVID-19 learning loss.
I am also personally familiar with the challenges faced by our special needs instructors and the classified staff who support them. These teachers and support staff have been presented with a Herculean challenge and the most recent test scores suggest that the teachers and classified staff are rising to the occasion.
In reading the piece, however, I came across a statement that troubled me deeply. The community member named Rebecca Hindman used some inflammatory language to refer to the district.
She said, “We (the William S. Hart Union High School District) are already the school-shooting district, the racist district, we are the district of bigots, the soon-to-be insolvent district and the district that doesn’t pay their award-winning teachers and classified (employees). Why would anyone move here?”
I would like to take a moment to respond to these very hurtful comments. As a parent of a child who was on the Saugus campus on that fateful day in November 2019, I refuse to let that horrible day define who and what we are. I would prefer to remember all of the love, support and kindness that came after that tragic day.
I will always remember the parent who saw my child running from campus, put him in her car and drove him safely home. I will choose to remember the scores of on-duty and off-duty law enforcement officers who selflessly ran onto campus to assist the victims and attempt to locate the shooter. I will remember all of the schools in the SCV uniting as “Saugus Strong,” to show solidarity. I will choose to remember the district developing wellness centers on campus to support kids who were struggling and providing them ongoing counseling services.
Some people will continue to focus only on the negative and use language to demean the students, employees and families within the district. I, however will not let one horrible day in November 2019, or other conversations about contentious policies we are currently having, define who the William S. Hart district is, and what we stand for.
I am proud to be a resident of the William S. Hart district and my children are students and alumni of the district.