LBUSD Still Mulling Fate of Graduation, Spring Grades

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The Laguna Beach Unified Board of Education met virtually with staffers and student representatives on April 16. Courtesy of Youtube

Laguna Beach school administrators provided few details on the status of academic grading and senior graduation at the April 16 meeting of the Board of Education.

During the virtual meeting, Supt. Jason Viloria said the school district has formed a committee including Laguna Beach High Principal Jason Allemann and Deputy Superintendent Leisa Winston to craft a local solution for grading students during the unprecedented period of online learning prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are going to be working on grading practices, it’s one of the things that is really an important conversation to have and so we have brought a committee together for the high school,” Viloria said.

He added that the district is following guidance about grading from education agencies, including the University of California system, Cal State University system and California Department of Education. Board member Dee Perry requested that administrators seek similar guidance from private universities and colleges.

Laguna Beach parent Sheri Morgan said the school district should offer students the opportunity to pursue a pass-or-no-pass grading format for the rest of the school year but not impose it on students who are maintaining exceptional grades.

“To take away the hard work of a student who has worked to maintain grade or accelerate a grade could have adverse effects to their self-esteem and motivation,” Morgan said.

She also recommended that the public be notified and invited to offer input before the district decides whether to transition to pass or no pass.

Board member James Kelly said he wants to talk about graduation at the school board’s next meeting on May 21, which lands only four weeks before the scheduled graduation ceremony.

“I’m interested to hear what the plan is,” Kelly said. “We need closure.”

Viloria said district staffers want to honor graduating seniors, as well as recognize the promotions for fifth- and eighth-graders.

“We do want to make it meaningful so it might be that we end up doing multiple things for the students, hopefully, maybe when the dust settles we can see each other face-to-face and be together again,” he said.

Laguna Beach High seniors were looking forward to the last couple of months of school as a time to celebrate after a grueling school year filled with college applications, studying for Advanced Placement exams, and extracurricular activities, student board representative Drew Fink said.

“For me personally, it feels like you’re watching a really good movie and right as you’re about to watch the climax the movie ends with no resolution and you’re left unsure how it might end,” Fink said.

Sara Hopper, president of the Laguna Beach Unified Faculty Association, said in a statement her members were saddened by the reality that they won’t see their students in-person for the rest of the school year.

“The teachers will not see their students in their classrooms again or be able to celebrate the end of the school year with them,” Hopper said. “The seniors will not have their last prom, sporting events, performances or graduation in the bowl. Of course we agree with the necessity of this closure for our health and safety as the priority, none the less we feel the loss of not having our students with us in the classroom.”

Viloria and Winston created an employee expectation guideline for online learning that was distributed to all educators. LBUSD management and labor leaders have met regularly to collaborate on the document.

“I think that has provided us a great guideline to refer back to as we navigate this online learning,” Hopper said Thursday.

School Board OKs $1M Roofing Contract

The school board unanimously voted Thursday to moved forward with spending more than $1 million to install new roofs on buildings at three of its campuses this summer.

The district awarded the roofing labor contract to Gardena-based Best Contracting Services for $653,000. The remainder of about $435,000 will be paid to Garland Co. for roofing materials.

Best Contracting Services has completed work at Golden West College, Cal Poly Pomona, and CSU Dominguez Hills, according to its website.

“The maintenance of roofs is essential to keep school facilities in good repair and it is not recommended deferring projects to a future date due to increases in costs,” district administrators wrote in a staff report.

Laguna Beach High School, El Morro Elementary, and Thurston Middle School. Among the three campuses, Thurston will be the most expensive with a $586,187 price tag. Top of the World Elementary is not slated for a new roof before 2025, according to district documents.

The project will be paid for by the district’s special reserve for facilities repair and replacement. Construction is expected to last for two months, said Jeff Dixon, assistant superintendent of business services.

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  1. Offering options for students if needed would be ideal if necessary but to take away grade options from students that have worked hard to maintain their gpa whatever that is would be detrimental to their motivation and self esteem in my opinion. Our students are being empowered to handled 21st century learning in a real world environment. There is nothing more real world that what we are currently experiencing. We have the resources within our district to offer extra support to those students that may need it and can modify grading standards if necessary. The LCAP and our local funding allows us to address our districts needs as a priority over what a universal standard might suggest.

  2. Thank you Indy for keeping public informed about important school shutdown developments in real time. Thank you Sheri Morgan for taking time when you and so many parents are juggling choices that are mostly suboptimal for bringing your intelligence and concern not just for your own kids to the discussion.

    So the Supt. and Deputy Superintendent along with the Principal at LBHS are a committee? Who else is on the committee. If it all ex officio staff and employees then it is controlled by the Supt. and not really a school community committee at all. Any parents or students on the committee?

    Board member James Hall pleads to staff that he is “interested to hear the plan” for graduation at next meeting, after it may be too late to change. Last meeting he voted to give all Board powers to staff, now he is begging staff to see the plan for which the Board not staff is legally responsible under CA Ed. Code Sec. 35161. Board President justified and cut off debate on on turning Board powers over to Supt. because “other districts are doing it.” But LBUSD is not a district with 30,000 students and three of four high schools and multiple middle school and grade school campuses.

    Delegating special pending, contracting, safety and health powers to meet emergency made sense, but Board should have retained its power over grading and academic/social policy.

    And emergency doesn’t justify censorship of information the public needs about LBUSD. Yet, the Supt. and Board President released a press statement prematurely declaring victory and refusing to settle Board member Perry’s petition for judicial supervision of Board actions, retaliating for her minority voice after Board demanded she “speak with one voice” or remain silent? At the same time LBUSD did not inform pubic when a three judge California Appeals Court ruled in February that the Board and Supt. “acted without statutory authority” and “abused discretion” as well as “violating student rights” under the state education code.

    Finally, bravo to the Student Representative for not glossing over heartbreaking truth, and showing how literate and honest our seniors are by employing the bad ending to a good movie as an erudite public communications metaphor, enabling the public to understand what he was saying on behalf of his peers. We hear you loud and clear, and agree with Sheri that you will be stronger and more successful for having navigated this ordeal. it feels like loss now but good will come of it in your future.

  3. LBHS School Board.

    I want to take a moment and simply “Thank you” for the professionalism and the communication during this most uncertain time for our Seniors. Thank you for taking the initiative and making the best of a most unfortunate situation. I am certain the Class of 2020 is most grateful.


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