Jonathan Pobre/Flickr CC
A student reads in the classroom.
Last week, six parents in Orange County who had let their kids miss up to 22 days from school were charged with two misdemeanors: contributing to the delinquency of a minor and failure to reasonably supervise or encourage school attendance. This last charge was born from a new law targeting parents who can’t seem to get their kids to school.
“It’s unfortunate in a lot of senses that we have to resort to prosecution," said Orange County Deputy District Attorney Frank Acosta. "But a lot of the time it’s the message that has to be sent, that there is a violation of the law and we have to follow the law.”
Acosta also said parents need to hear that they could go to jail for one year and pay a $2,000 fine if they continually refuse help getting their kids to class. Five Orange County parents arrested two years ago received probation.
“We’re not asking for jail in these cases,” Acosta said.
Civil Rights lawyers at a press conference Wednesday announcing a lawsuit against California for allegedly failing to provide mandated help for students who aren't fluent in English.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California has sued California officials alleging about 20,000 students who don't speak English fluently are languishing in public school classrooms without the help schools are mandated to provide.
The state’s large immigrant population makes English learner instruction a big issue in California. The state labels about one in four public school students as English learners. Many are immigrants; others are U.S. citizens raised by parents who speak a foreign language. State and federal laws require schools to help these students become fluent speakers, readers and writers of English so they'll do well in other academic subjects.
But Oxnard teacher and administrator Walt Dunlop, who attended the ACLU's press conference announcing Wednesday's lawsuit, said that’s not what he saw in the classroom. He said English learner students went days without help from teachers or peers.
Paramount High School
From left to right: Lucio Lopez, Xavier Aldana, Thalia Hernandez and Faby Zuniga. The fifth scholarship winner is not pictured.
Five Paramount High School students have been selected as Gates Millennium Scholars -- a rare achievement among high schools. Funded in 1999, the minority scholarships pay for up to 10 years of study, room and board.
"I was shocked. I still am shocked right now, like I feel like I’m going to wake up from a dream," said Xavier Aldana, one of the scholarship winners. Aldana got the good news when his mom picked him up from swim practice.
"She handed me a big envelope and then I started crying and then I opened it and then more tears came out," he said. Aldana plans to attend the University of Southern California to study filmmaking. Prior to winning the scholarship he had no hopes of affording graduate school, but now he's thinking of going on to get a master's degree in computer engineering.
Burbank Unified may be punished by the state after a teacher allegedly helped students answer questions on a high stakes test. The incident took place last week in a third grade classroom, officials said.
"Some people thought that the teachers gave answers or there was cheating,” said Burbank Unified superintendent Jan Britz.
“It wasn't cheating; it wasn't giving answers," she said. "But there's a variety of things that you can do for test security and the students identified that and the investigation actually confirmed that."
Britz agreed that breach is a black eye for the district. Two people investigated the incident last week at McKinley Elementary School after students reported it. The school district handed over the results of the investigation to California’s Department of Education.
Rogers Herr Middle School
A third grade teacher at McKinley Elementary is on leave after a student reported receiving help with answers on the state's STAR exams.
Burbank school officials say a third-grade teacher has been put on leave after a student reported a got help with answers on state standardized tests.
The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that Burbank Unified Superintendent Jan Britz announced the investigation at a board meeting last week.
Britz says the student told the principal at McKinley Elementary that students received help with answers on the state's STAR exams.
District' officials investigated and gave their findings to the California Department of Education, which is now conducting its own investigation. The department declined comment.
Britz says it's likely that at least the class's set of tests will be declared invalid, and the school could lose its Academic Performance Index score, which at 835 is well above the state target of 800.