A sign outside of the HBUHSD office. (Photo by Justin Hsieh)
Fountain Valley High School

Community public comments to the HBUHSD Board of Trustees

Huntington Beach Union High School District teachers, parents and students have expressed concerns over what they feel to be a lack of preparation, community involvement and transparency from district leaders since last spring.

In response to growing community backlash over the past two months, the HBUHSD Board of Trustees live streamed their board meeting for the first time on September 8, seven months after a state executive order was issued that authorized public agencies to broadcast meetings. The Board also accepted public comments via email.

“I want to thank you for live streaming the board meeting and hope you can continue to do so,” one community member wrote in a public comment. “It makes the district stronger if we the parents, teachers, board and community, can work together. Transparency is so important in these uncertain times.”

Despite the community expectation that the Board read all public comments during the meeting, the Board did not do so.

“I hope the public comments are made public by being read into the minutes,” community member Reah RcCauley wrote on Facebook.

HBUHS District Educators Association (DEA) president Shawne Hume also asked the board to read public comments.

“It is not clear at this moment what ‘Public comments timely received via email will be compiled, and presented to the Board members for review prior to or during the meeting’ means,” Hume wrote in a public comment. “Other local school board agendas state that electronic comments will be read into the record. It is my hope that in the spirit of transparency, the Board intends to do this.”

Several community members who watched the meeting expressed their continued frustrations with the Board once the meeting ended.

“They gave a tiny window for public comments to be emailed and despite the fact that the meeting was only 32 minutes long, did not read those public comments,” DEA vice president Jennifer Lamperts wrote on Facebook. “The board also disabled the public chat. Parents and community, this board is effectively silencing you from taking part in this public forum.”

Another community member commented on the lack of discussion of reopening for in-person instruction.

“There was no mention about the most important thing everyone was tuning in for – REOPENING, comments were closed to the public so there was no participation, they didn’t address the parent emails that were sent in other than to say they received them, and it was over in the blink of an eye,” Christine Santana wrote on Facebook.

The Baron Banner filed a public records request on Sept. 12 for all public comments submitted to the Board of Trustees for the Sept. 8 meeting, including all comments submitted outside of the Sept. 7 to Sept. 8 24-hour time window and all comments Board president Susan Henry did not mention by name at the meeting, if any.

HBUHSD responded to the Baron Banner’s request on Sept. 28, and the Baron Banner obtained 17 public comments by mail on Oct. 3, which are published below publicly.

Most community members who submitted public comments expressed concern and disappointment about how teachers would conduct classes for both hybrid and virtual students at the same time. Some asked that the district reopen schools soon, while others questioned what safety measures were being taken.

Public comments sent to the Board of Trustees for the Sept. 8 meeting that were not published in this article may be forwarded to fvhsbaronbanner@gmail.com.

Disclaimer: All public comments that the Baron Banner received have been published verbatim and with time stamps. All public comments are solely the opinions of their respective writers, not those of the Baron Banner. 


Sept. 7, 2020 at 1:25 p.m.

Dear Ms. Thomas,

I am writing to you to request that once school resumes on campus, Our students will be taught by the teacher IN THE CLASSROOM. I am hearing stories that there may be some class, where a teacher will be teaching from home, and the students are to watch the teacher on screen? I hope this is not the case, because the whole reason we have requested on campus instruction for our daughter is to be taught IN PERSON.

I respect that some teachers have requested to teach on line, but those teachers should teach students who chose to go 100% on line.

Thank you for your attention.

Best Regards,

Tomoko Melwani


Sept. 7, 2020 at 1:56 p.m.

Dear HBUHSD Board,

 

I am a mother of a Senior at Marina High School as well as a mother of a 7th grade student. I  want to let you know I am disappointed in the hybrid model and the possibility that there may not be a live teacher in the classroom teaching the students when we are allowed to go in person. Children that will be present in class need or want an actual teacher in the classroom with them teaching the class, not a teacher “Zooming” from their home. As a parent we assumed we were getting a live teacher in the class with the students when we signed up for the hybrid model. If a teacher has decided to teach remotely instead of coming back in person why not let them teach the students who have also decided to learn online.  Having a teacher teach remotely from home to a class of students on campus while a substitute teacher is physically in the classroom with the students seems like a complete waste of money, and we keep hearing about budget cut backs and shortfalls. These are unprecedented times which is even more reason to put the children first and do what is best for them and their education.

 

Also I want to thank you for live streaming the board meeting and hope you can continue to do so. It makes the district stronger if we the parents, teachers, board and community, can work together. Transparency is so important in these uncertain times.

 

Thank You for your time.

Sincerely

Melissa Kimbrough


Sept. 7, 2020 at 4:26 p.m.

I am writing to express my deep frustration with the proposal the district is promoting to lump students who have chosen to be 100% virtual in the same class as students who chose the hybrid model. Most parents signed our students up for the hybrid model because we wanted live, in-person instruction. Our kids have not had that since March 13.  To learn that in fact, there is a real possibility that students will sit in class with a substitute while their teacher instructs them virtually is simply unacceptable.  Realistically, how much high-quality instruction do you think is going to happen when teachers are required to try and teach 19 kids physically in a classroom with another 18 students watching on from home? Teachers who don’t feel comfortable returning to school should teach the 5,500 students who have chosen to learn online 100% of the time.

My understanding is that this was done to make it easier to craft the master schedule. The district should be doing what is BEST for STUDENTS, not what is easier for you and this ridiculous plan of putting both hybrid and online students in the same class is absolutely not what is best for students.  Los Alamitos and Garden Grove are two local school districts who have managed to keep the two groups separate and still create a master schedule.  Perhaps you should be looking at them for guidance.

Parents feel completely misled by the District Administration by your proposal for the learning options we had to choose from.  It’s beyond disappointing.

Lisa Rudy

Parent of an HBHS Senior


Sept. 7, 2020 at 9:37 p.m.

Dear Mr. Thomas,

I am writing to express my deep frustration with the proposal the district is promoting to lump students who have chosen to be 100% virtual in the same class as students who chose the hybrid model.  Most parents signed our students up for the hybrid model because we wanted live, in-person instruction. Our kids have not had that since March 13.  To learn that in fact, there is a real possibility that students will sit in a class with a substitute while their teacher instructs them virtually is simply unacceptable.  Realistically, how much high-quality instruction do you think is going to happen when teachers are required to try and teach 19 kids physically in a classroom with another 18 students watching on from home? Teachers who don’t feel comfortable returning to school should teach the 5,500 students who have chosen to learn online 100% of the time.

My understanding is that this was done to make it easier to craft the master schedule.  The district should be doing what is BEST for STUDENTS, not what is easier for you and this ridiculous plan of putting both hybrid and online students in the same class is absolutely not what is best for students.  Los Alamitos and Garden Grove are two local school districts who have managed to keep the two groups separate and still create a master schedule.  Perhaps you should be looking at them for guidance.

Parents feel completely misled by the District Administration by your proposal for the learning options we had to choose from.  It’s beyond disappointing.

Parent of HBHS Seniors,

Sherry Kennedy


Sept. 7, 2020 at 10 p.m.

Dear school board of HBUHSD, Dr. Harwick and Dr. Crosby,

As a parent of a 2020 senior and a 2022 junior at Edison I am imploring you to reopen for Hybrid learning on September 22. You have the next two weeks to get everything ready to welcome students back into the classroom.

According to your email 37% of students are staying online, so now you only have about 60% to fit into the smaller classes. And based on data teens risk of complications because of Covid is miniscule.

As a former member of the NEA and CTA, I realize the power of the teacher’s unions, but PLEASE put the needs of students first. It is so difficult for these kids to stay engaged and actively learning online. I have heard that some kids are smoking marijuana (doing bongs) during the Zoom call. It is so detrimental to the at-risk students, and the education is NOT equal when it is on Zoom.

Again, I’m begging you to put kids’ needs first.

Thank you,

Melissa Zaiden


Sept. 7, 2020 at 10:17 p.m.

Dear Sirs,

Be our kids advocate and OPEN OUR SCHOOLS! They cannot go on like this any longer and sports need to resume as well. The data & science proves that we can open safely and get back to normal.

Regards,

Joelle Palombo


Sept. 8, 2020 at 8:50 a.m.

Trustees,

I understand that there is a trustees meeting this evening and parents are being encouraged to send e-mails. I want to convery that my husband and I strongly supprt re-opening the Hig Schools. We have a Senior at Marina High School and the negative efects of the social isolation have been overwhelming for my son and our family. Science supports re-opening when done in a safe manor. It is time to re-open. For those who are scared and/or want to politisize this, they can keep their students virtual. However, the rest of the students should not pay the price for their desire to spread fear and misinformation. The science support opening. The negative side effects of remaining closed far out weigh any risk. Remember, you need to make decisions to do what is best for ALL students  based on science and keep politics and fear out of it!

Sincerely,

Patricia H


Sept. 8, 2020 at 9:01 a.m.

Good morning! I have 2 students at Edison High school – freshman and junior.  Now that Huntington Beach is headed into the Red Tier – I am emailing to ask that as a district we would consider getting our students back on campus as soon as possible. I realize this will still only be 2 days a week in the current hybrid model, but I believe this to be the best option for our students. They need each other – they need social interaction from a distance,  and they need in person  teacher interaction.  Please strongly consider making this a priority for our students.

Thank you!

Tori Ambrose


Sept. 8, 2020 at 9:51 a.m.

Good morning.  I’m writing in regards to the reopening of our schools.  My wish and hope is that the HB schools will return to as close to normal operations as possible.  I’m a long time HB resident with 3 children.  Two are at Edison High School and one is in a private that will start normal operations on Wednesday the 9th.

Understanding the real or perceived COVID 19 threat, I want to point out a program that was a successful example of what can be achieved with level headed, reality based decision making.  The Jr. lifeguard program run by HBCity.  This program was able to function as a great example of how we can open our schools until we realize that the coast is clear and that kids/families are not dying in droves as a true “pandemic” would create. Zero cases were reported during the summer program.  I hope that the school board members were able to get out and observe the program.

In addition, I am very grateful that one of my kids will be participating in the conditioning for the football team.  Really good to see that it is happening!  My head scratching moment with this is due to the fact that it the kids can’t go to school for the basics which is “school”/learning then why in the world would kids be allowed to show up for a sports program that doesn’t even start until December!  Don’t get me wrong, I want this to continue. My issue is if we are worried about kids/families getting sick from COVID 19( I am not worried ) then why would we have them come to the school campus for a sport.

I’ve spent the last 25 years working as a first responder in the fire department.  Over the coarse of this pandemic I’ve responded to hundreds of calls for service with the potential COVID 19 exposure.  Based on my personal observations I have no cause for concern and believe that the best course for our kids is to get them back into the classroom.  If not, close it completely and we can move on to home school.

Lets get real and open the schools.

Stephen Dobbs


Sept. 8, 2020 at 10:25 a.m.

Dear Board,

Please open our schools.  My kids have been negatively affected by distance learning.  They need to be back in the classroom learning hands on instead of through a computer for 4-5 hours a day.

I feel it’s safe and if other parents don’t then they have the choice to keep their kids home for virtual learning.

Thank you from a parent who has 3 teenagers at Edison High School

Lee Ann Krueger


Sept. 8, 2020 at 11:11 a.m.

Hello,

I am sending this email to express my concerns for the HBUHSD hybrid option. After careful thought, I chose to enroll both of my Marina hIgh School students in the hybrid option.  Upon making this choice, I believed my children would be attending in-person classes with the teachers they were learning from virtually.  I was very disappointed to learn that the hybrid option is not this at all.  I was recently informed that if my students teacher has chosen to stay home to teach virtually, there may be a substitute teacher “babysitting” their class while the teacher virtually teaches the class from home.  Where will the money come from to pay two teachers for one class? Do we even have enough qualified substitute teachers to make this happen? Why would anyone knowingly choose this option?

Additionally, I am concerned about the quality of education our students will receive when teachers are required to teach students both in the classroom and at home, it is unacceptable. Teachers that are not comfortable returning to school could teach the students that have chosen to learn virtually in a virtual academy.  Teachers that do wish to return to school can teach the students who selected the hybrid option.

In an effort to do what is best for the students, I believe we should keep the two groups separate as our neighboring school districts have done.

Thank you,

Lisa Rodden


Sept. 8, 2020 at 11:33 a.m.

Hello-

I am a parent of three Edison High School daughters and I would like them to return to school in person as soon as possible. They all agree that it is so much easier to learn with a live teacher present. I am also a substitute teacher in the district and I would not feel at risk being present with hundreds of students on a daily basis. Please allow students and teachers that want to be online to do so but everyone else should be present in a classroom setting if you are truly concerned with students receiving the highest quality of education. Schools are essential- many corporations have continued meeting essential needs successfully safely in person. The educational system should do the same in order to serve the community, regardless of fear. I hope this district has made preparation and has something to show for all the extra time you’ve had to make a plan. I assume it has been clearly communicated to teachers, and that they are empowered to carry it out. The quality of learning is not the same in the current distant-learning format and our children are suffering for it. We continue to make the best of being at home, but it is very difficult, especially without confirmation of a proposed date for return. Thank you for keeping us all in the loop!

Sincerely,

Melinda Marcus


Sept. 8, 2020 at 11:43 a.m.

As a parent of two HBUHSD students, I am writing to voice my concern with the district proposal for hybrid learning.  I selected the hybrid learning option so my children would have the opportunity to learn in the classroom, face to face, with their teacher.  I have recently learned that this might not be the case as some teachers will remain virtual while a substitute watches over the classroom.  Why would I send my children to school to learn virtually?  This completely  defeats the idea of in person instruction that some children desperately need to be successful in school.  I understand that teachers should have the option to remain virtual due to Covid-19 concerns; however, I do not understand why the platforms for virtual and hybrid students were merged, rather than keeping them separate as our surrounding districts have done.  I urge you to take the time to review the concerns of parents and teachers in the district to come up with a plan that puts our children’s education first.

Thank you for your time.

Kristina Hughes


Sept. 8, 2020 at 11:51 a.m.

I am very thankful that these meetings are now being zoomed. Thank you for listening to our concerns.

I am concerned that HBUHSD schools will be opened too quickly then forced to close again. This disruption will be detrimental to our students and can be avoided. Let the teachers and students get into the online/distance learning until the first quarter or Thanksgiving.

Also, when we were polled, we were asked to opt for Hybrid or online learning for at least the first semester and then IF there would be room and people felt comfortable they would be allowed to joining the hybrid option. The online option was to be taught by district teachers and not their home school teachers. That is not what is happening nor was this adequately communicated to families.

And now we hear about how teachers once hybrid goes into effect, will be teaching to the students in their classrooms PLUS online.  These are 2 very different pedagogical realities and teachers are stressed enough as it is.  Then we hear about a scenario that if the teacher can’t come back to the physical classroom, then they will be teaching from home and the hybrid students will be “babysat” in class while watching the teacher in class. Again, this is ridiculous.  Waiting to open will ensure more confidence so that more teachers will come back.

Other issues, enforce mask usage. If a student refuses, than they can go somewhere else or stay at home.

Ensure that each high school and classroom will be cleaned to the highest standards.  Too many teachers are being expected to clean their own rooms with minimal cleaning supplies.

Athletes and Performing Arts are being allowed, per guidelines to train.  That is a good first step and needs to be consistently enforced.  What other intermediary steps can be taken?

Thank you and here’s to a great 2020-2021 school year.

Susan Kadota

Parent of a sophomore and senior at Edison High School


Sept. 8, 2020 at 12:19 p.m.

Hello,

Please stand firm and incorporate public health in any decisions or plans.

It would be much preferred and helpful if the district would just take a stand and focus on making distance learning successful. I know and understand everyone wanting to be back in school but be leaders and say we can’t live in this constant state of flux and to ensure all families are properly supported and successful, all resources will be focused on distance learning until the end of the semester.

For those students/families that really cannot do distance learning…bring them onto campus. Focus on the students that really need the technology or mentoring infrastructure that can only happen in person. I know there will be families that take advantage (just as we know there are families creating special IEPs when they don’t really have a need) but the numbers should be more manageable than having to bring the entire population back onto campus.

Then, focus on how we can bring the community together safely. Allow athletics and extra curricular activities to begin. The numbers should be much smaller and more manageable then having everyone back on campus at the exact same time for academics.

This constant state of flux is much more damaging than if there was a well outlined and detailed plan with explanations. Have a single plan and reassess at the end of the calendar year. Lay out what criteria MUST be met and work on logistics for how hybrid and online will work in the second semester. Figure ways our community can be social, supporting and safe.

Be leaders by setting examples of how to cooperate and work together. Make sure you take science and emotions into account in your plan but emotions aren’t overriding science.

Most of all, please have a comprehensive and comprehensible plan. The online vs hybrid option that was described for parents and students to choose was not what ended up going live once school started. We chose online at first but switched to hybrid because we wanted to ensure our freshman and senior students were assigned to HBHS classes. After the deadline to choose passed, we were told both online and hybrid would be assigned to teachers of their home school. I do not think we can chalk this misunderstanding to social media frenzy because I was using the documents published by HBUHSD. It’s this inconsistency that makes it very difficult for families and causes a lot of unnecessary stress.

Thanks for listening.

Isabella Ford


Sept. 8, 2020 at 12:42 p.m.

Good afternoon

As a parent and an educator I feel the need to reopen and get back to classes ASAP is a must. Watching the defeat look in my children’s faces because of the issues with not getting one on one time or face to face instruction is hard. It is a slap in the face that so many private schools around us have been able to go back in person and we get to sit and watch. Masks worn, hybrid schedule, distance is what we are all willing to do. Please reconsider making these kids wait to get back to school and learn as well as play sports.

Thank you

CRodriguez


Sept. 8, 2020 at 12:48 p.m.

Board President Henry, esteemed Trustees, and HBUHSD Leadership:

On behalf of DEA, I would like to thank the Board for the choice to livestream meetings. Access to public meetings is critical for local stakeholders in all times, but in the current moment, it is crucial.

I also urge the Board to ensure that public comments are read into the records. It is not clear at this moment what “Public comments timely received via email will be compiled, and presented to the Board members for review prior to or during the meeting” means. Other local school board agendas state that electronic comments will be read into the record. It is my hope that in the spirit of transparency, the Board intends to do this. Other Boards allow in person and electronic comments; while this may have been a lot to manage for this first livestreamed meeting, I hope the Board will continue to expand public access for future meetings.

I would also like to thank District leadership for the purchase of Zoom; this is an essential videoconference tool that allows teachers to manage and secure their online sessions and this investment is much appreciated.

I would also like to thank District IT and classified staff for all the hard work that went into ensuring we had a smooth opening of school. Those efforts were Herculean and much appreciated.

I will close this evening by asking the Board and District leadership to commit to the spirit of collaboration. All organizations function better when all of its groups work together because they have been equitably and respectfully included in processes. Guidance from this Board to ensure that all groups are included and valued is needed.

Thank you for your time and your service to all HBUHSD stakeholders.

Respectfully,

Shawne Hume