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    « And Who Was that Dissident Committee Member? | Main | San Juan Hills Presents Beauty and the Beast »

    April 16, 2009

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    Mr Sherrill's letter to the Trustees is one of the most carefully composed, rational, and persuasive documents that I have seen in months of following the folly that CUSD management has deteriorated into. I wish all our teachers were as articulate.

    It is clear that the CUSD's decision to cancel this trip was based on "fear based on sensationalized media reports" and not on any realistic concern for the students' welfare, safety, or the value of this enormously useful -- and historically sucessful -- activity.

    I hate to say it, but "shame on you, CUSD 'Staff' and Trustees." How much more damage can you cause to our once-proud, formerly-renowned school district?

    Mr. Sherrill's letter and the comments of Mr McNulty (is this correct?) are VERY pursuasive and I was indeed moved by the number of students at the meeting the other night, but I have to say - if it was my child, I don't think I'd be letting her go to Mexico right now, either. This opinion may very well be "fear based on sensationalized media reports" but when we're talking about our kids, it is very hard not to err on the side of caution.

    My concern is more for the lack of concern the board showed the students at the meeting. Every student that showed up to participate should have been given an opportunity to speak during the early public comments. They deserved that much.

    The parents have the authority to deny or approve of their child's participation in the trip. Why wasn't it enough to notify the parents of the risks involved and let them make the decision?

    My understanding is that this trip occurs during school days so it is considered a school-sponsored event (do they collect ADA for these days the kids are out of school?)making CUSD liable for any problems.

    Funny- this is one of the few board decisions I agree with. Just telling parents about the risks and letting the children go on the trip would not absolve the district of responsibility. Fact is, if something did happen to a student on the trip and the District knew that it was a possibility, they would be wide open to a huge lawsuit and potentially worse. A parent may say ok and know that something COULD happen but it is amazing how people change their view when something DOES happen. In this case- is just doesn't make sense to even take the risk and I am truly shocked that parents would take that risk with their own children.

    As a frequent Baja traveler and a homeowner in Central Baja, I find the brouhaha about the "danger in Mexico" that is in the news media to be extremely exaggerated. I feel safer in my Baja home than I do in my Dana Point home! Just think—there was an armed robbery at a Dana Point gas station a short time ago—does that mean I shouldn’t buy gas in Dana Point again? This Baja Field Study is an incredible academic experience for the students, and they earned the right to go. One thing that needs to be mentioned is that this trip is NOT mandatory! If parents don’t want their son/daughter to go, he/she can be assigned an alternate project. This has happened a few times over the years, and those students’ grades did not suffer at all! Canceling the entire trip because some people don’t agree that it should take place is analogous to not letting some people have rights just because you don’t like them or because they and you don’t agree on issues! Those who wanted to go should have been allowed to go! (And by the way, LeAna, yes—the school would have still gotten the ADA for those students who went—the same as ALL students on any field trips in any CA school are counted in the ADA for the days of the events!)

    The cancellation of this trip is one of the saddest things to happen in CUSD since this new Board has “come to power.” It is also an example of how this new Board operates—and it’s not a pretty picture: In addition to the students being disappointed over this cancellation, they also got to see our local school district’s governing body at its worst. Board President Addonizio unilaterally chose NOT to allow the Marine Ecology teacher a chance to address the Board; she chose to only allow 20 speakers to each have only one minute to speak (barely enough time to state one’s name, much less say anything of substance); she chose to not let Mr. Sherrill’s letter (the one in Jonathan’s link) to be read into the record (though they all had received it, so it should have been allowed to be entered into the record!). Talk about censorship—Ms. Addonizio certainly demonstrated that censorship is alive and well in the CUSD! Further proof of that is that later in the same meeting, the HUSBAND of one of the Trustees had the floor as long as he wanted it! That certainly demonstrated open democracy in action to the students! In addition, although the Board couldn’t act on the issue—since it wasn’t an agenda item—none of the Trustees chose to speak up and request that staff (administration) re-visit this issue and bring it back to the next workshop (which they already have scheduled for BEFORE the next regular meeting!) so more information could be gathered about the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security recommendations. Heaven forbid we should give students the right to be heard and the right to have their questions and concerns addressed! Ahhh—more great democracy in action!

    Let’s hope that next year this Board and the involved administrators use better judgment regarding the Baja Field Study by allowing it to not only be approved (as this one was in the fall of this school year!), but to let it take place. I’d hate to think that more students will miss out on this one-of-a-kind experience! I’d love to go on this trip, and I would eagerly send my children without reservation!

    Let me begin by saying that I am embarrassed by my governing board. I have friends who are in education around the state and they routinely laugh at what these "yahoos" are doing. One of my friends said it best. "They truly believe that they ARE education. They believe that they are the reasons for the successes of the district. They believe that they make a difference, but differences are made in the classroom. They should NEVER be in the news. Get the schools the money they need and shut up." That pretty much sums up my feelings as well.

    All that said, I'm disappointed that they are taking the heat for the Dana trip. They didn't make the decision to keep the kids home. The school principal along with two assistant superintendents made the decision. They could have over-ruled the decision, but the reason to have principals and superintendents is to research the issue and make quality recommendations and decisions.

    Lets beat them up when they have earned it. There is plenty to be irate about. Not this though.

    I completely agree JS. I also agree with the decision to cancel the trip (or reschedule it for Catalina). I don't care if a parent signed a statement or swore on a stack of bibles that it was okay for their kid to go, if the unthinkable happened the district would be sued by every parent.

    The Dana Hills principal and the two assistant superintendents made the right decision to cancel the Baja trip. The board of trustees made the right decision in supporting the principal and the assistant superintendents. No matter what anyone is writing on the blog, it is dangerous to travel through border areas of Mexico at this time. I love Baja and have had many good times visiting south of the border but I wouldn't let me kids travel there now.

    This is the first time I have agreed with this board of trustees. Their decision reflects what is best for the safety of the students and what will protect the district in terms of liability.

    Disappointed:

    I completely agree with you about the way these kids were treated at this board meeting. Every student that completed a blue card should have been given time to speak at the beginning of the meeting. AND with this kind of outcry, the board would have been better-served to agendize this and give it a more thorough discussion.

    My advice would be for interested parties to start contacting their board rep and push him/her to agendize this for the next meeting so it can be thoroughly reviewed and discussed. It can still be added to an agenda if you push hard enough. Even if the decision is the same at the end of the meeting, at least you can believe that all facts were considered.

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