Kern County High School Students Need a Better Plan for the Future

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
July 08, 2014

For more information contact:

Tim McKinley, CRLA Directing Attorney, Delano
661-725-4350 or tmckinley@crla.org

Sahar Durali, CRLA Staff Attorney, Delano
661-725-4350 or sdurali@crla.org

Kern County High School Students Need a Better Plan for the Future

Kern County, CA – In a July 8, 2014 letter to the Kern County Office of Education, California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA), the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and Faith in Action Kern County state that the Kern High School District (the District) failed to comply with the legal requirements for fund allocation under the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and request that the Kern County Office of Education deny approval of the District’s Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) and send it back for revision.  CRLA has called on the Kern County Office of Education to examine and correct serious legal deficiencies of the District’s plan, and will host a press conference tomorrow, July 8, 2014 at 2:00 pm at the Kern County Office of Education (1300 17th Street, Bakersfield, CA) to address the matter further.

Mandated by the new California education funding system passed last year, the LCAP must document how the District will spend millions of dollars in state funds next year, and additional funds each subsequent year through 2017.   Under the LCFF, the District receives supplemental and concentration grant funds in addition to the existing student services base grant.  These funds are intended to “increase or improve” services for “unduplicated” pupils, defined by the law to include English Learners, Foster Youth, and Low-Income Students.  The District must also plan and make provisions in its LCAP for pupils with disabilities and numerically significant ethnic groups, such as Latinos, Filipinos or African-American students.  These provisions are intended to help these subgroups meet the state’s eight priorities using goals set by the district.

In its letter, CRLA, the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and Faith in Action Kern County assert that the District’s LCAP fails to make specific plans for pupils with disabilities and ethnic minorities.  Additionally, these groups criticize the District’s position that it can spend millions of dollars of supplemental and concentration grant funds meant for underserved students on general districtwide programs.  “This violates the letter and the spirit of the Local Control Funding Formula, which expressly acknowledges that additional funding is needed to meet the educational needs of these student groups,” said Sahar Durali, CRLA Delano Staff Attorney.  

CRLA has repeatedly advised the District that its proposed spending of supplemental and concentration grant funds districtwide is a violation of state regulations and laws and asked that community and parent suggestions for meaningful programs be considered.  These requests were largely ignored, prompting CRLA, the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and Faith in Action Kern County to ask the Kern County Office of Education to reject the LCAP and demand that the District spend grant money intended for these underserved student groups on programs to support their success and growth.

“The Kern High School District has not met the intent of the Local Control Funding Formula.  We are deeply troubled with the way the district decided to distribute the $17 million that it received in the form of concentration and supplemental funds,” said Erika Brooks, Dolores Huerta Foundation Education Manager.  “This funding should result in increased or improved services for the neediest students (low-income, foster youth, and English learners); schools with highest concentration of these students should have received more as intended by the legislature when they passed the Local Control Funding Formula.”

The District has also turned a deaf ear to the parents, students, and other community members who attempted to become involved in the LCAP process.  Under the LCFF statute, districts are required to meaningfully involve parents and other stakeholders in planning the expenditure of additional grant funds and are required to create specific goals for English Learners.  CRLA told the Kern County Office of Education that the District failed to adequately engage parents in its LCAP development, especially parents of English Learners.  While the District has a total enrollment of 37,000 students, it only allowed four parents to participate in its District English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC).  CRLA also told Kern County Office of Education that the District has failed to give public notice of its meetings, as required by law.  “The whole point of the LCFF was to improve transparency, increase parent involvement, and make local decision making accountable locally for the effective education of students, and in particular low-income students, English Learners and Foster Youth,” said Tim McKinley, CRLA Delano Directing Attorney.  “Kern High School District’s LCAP thwarts those goals at every turn.”

The District’s LCAP is now before the Kern County Office of Education for approval.  CRLA is asking the County Office of Education to require that a revised LCAP be submitted that complies with state regulations and law.  Additionally, since there is a demonstrated lack of effective parent involvement in the development of the LCAP, and in particular a failure to engage the non-English speaking community, CRLA asks that the District be directed to do targeted outreach and conduct additional community input sessions prior to revising the LCAP.

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More about CRLA:
Founded in 1966, CRLA’s mission is to fight for justice and individual rights alongside the most exploited communities of our society.  Through a network of regional offices and cross-cutting programs, CRLA provides legal services to over 32,000 low-income people annually. Our work impacts farmworkers, individuals with disabilities, immigrant populations, LGBT communities, women, children and families in rural areas.


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