Schools Required to Survey Parents

Laguna Beach Unified School District
First grade teacher Kimberly Mattson’s students, having finished working on reading comprehension, head back to their regular classrooms.

A first-time, state-mandated survey of parents soliciting their input on the Laguna Beach school district’s plans and goals will arrive in inboxes on Friday, a district official said Wednesday.

During Tuesday’s school board meeting, Superintendent Sherine Smith described the survey to board members, which she assumed had already been sent out until she was challenged by a parent.

Sheri Morgan, who has four children in district schools and is a member of each school’s PTA, informed Smith she never received such a survey, voicing a sentiment that created a backlash for school administrators over another poorly executed survey.

District officials revealed this past Wednesday that the email about the survey, which was already posted on the district’s website, had not been sent and will be included with the Superintendent’s Message, an email that goes out to staff and parents each Friday.

“Sheri, let us find it for you and we take your point that we need to do a better job,” Smith said to Morgan at Tuesday’s meeting.

Another parent in attendance, Tammy Keces, who has three children at district schools, said she thought the survey needed more prominence on the school district’s website.

“It doesn’t appear that they are truly seeking input from the mass majority,” Morgan said following the meeting.

The district must submit a three-year plan of its visions and goals for students to the state Education Department by July 1.

The survey’s sole question is: “What would help all LBUSD students be successful?” The district’s survey will be posted on its website until March 12. The district must obtain feedback beyond parents and staff to establish the district’s overall vision for students and annual goals as well as the actions to achieve them. Fulfilling the mandate qualifies the district for funding under the Local Control Accountability Plan, according to a report to the school board.

Similar complaints last year created an uproar over the district’s failure to aggressively canvas parents about a proposal to change the school calendar. Parents complained then that an emailed survey was either not received or failed to signal that the first day of school was under serious consideration for revision. At the time, school officials said the results of the survey favored an earlier start date, but parents protested vociferously and the revision was aborted.

State officials require all public school districts statewide to establish goals and actions in eight key areas. One area includes incorporating new academic standards knows as the Common Core, which change instruction by emphasizing more computer research rather than the former method of “sit and listen” learning. Other areas for parent and community input include safety of facilities, parent involvement in decision-making, preparing students for college and careers, keeping students in school and learning conditions.

The district is seeking input until June. “The district plans to utilize a broad and multi-channeled approach to involve parents and schools beginning now,” stated the report on the district’s website. The three-year plan will be updated annually.



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