DSC CA Holds Parent Organizing Exchange

The Dignity in Schools Campaign – California (DSC CA) held its first extremely successful Regional Parent Exchange in Fresno, CA, guided by the theme: “Me to We” “Yo a Nosotors”.

The well attended convening took place on July 13 for the purposes of developing a collective understanding of what parent engagement is, and what it means to be a part of DSC CA. Other objectives included:

  • Create an understanding of everybody’s work
  • Learn about the work that is happening across the state of California
  • Create solidarity across the state
  • Gain understanding that parents are change agents
  • Incorporate healing as an intentional practice for the entire conference

It was beautiful to see a conference room of approximately 90 activist parents and staff members of various organizations share stories of their accomplishments, challenges, and visions for educational justice in schools across the state. The convening also included childcare so that parents wouldn’t have to leave their children behind.

Participating Organizations

Education activist organizations and DSC CA partners included the Black Organizing Project and Coleman Advocates out of the Bay Area; Building Healthy Communities Salinas, MILPA and Youth Alliance from the Central Coast region; Tower of Youth, Black Parallel School Board, Dolores Huerta Foundation, Fathers and Family of San Joaquin, and Fresno Barrios Undios from Central Valley region, Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement (COPE) of Inland Valley, and out of Los Angeles, the Community Asset Development Re-defining Education (CADRE) and Public Counsel. These organizations advocate on the part of parents and students throughout the California regions by bringing attention to systemic discrimination and school pushout of Black And Brown students in California schools.

The primary goal of DSC CA affiliated organizations is to end the school-to-prison pipeline.

Many of these organizations include parent organizers, organizational staff members and community supporters who attend and speak out at school board meetings, make recommendations to LCAP plans, advocate the removal of SROs on campuses, and help students and parents confront the harsh discriminatory schools policies and practices that push out Black And Brown students, foster youth and youth with disabilities, and even formally incarcerated parents who are often denied the right to visit the schools their children attend.

Because the convening consisted of both Spanish and English speakers, every part of the conference included translators. While most presentations and sharing were done in English and translated through headsets for Spanish-speaking participants, presentations and feedback was also done in Spanish and translated in English. This was truly empowering to make sure all voices were heard.

Workshop Presenters

Tia Martinez and Manuel Criolla

The conference was honored to have Manuel Criollo give a powerful presentation, “Educational Justice & Parent Organizing,” about the history of education injustice, racism, and discrimination in the U.S..

Tia Martinez, who has provided numerous data presentations throughout the state about school suspensions and police arrests, gave an equally well received presentation about the School-to-Prison Pipeline, with a particular focus on how job closures starting in the 1970s and forms of racial discrimination have led to mass incarceration of particularly Black and Brown parents and workers.

Keynote Speakers

Roslyn Broadnex

Keynote speaker, Roslyn Broadnex

Parent organizer, Roslyn Broadnex, of the Community Asset Development Re-defining Education (CADRE) out of Los Angeles gave a powerful and personal presentation on the meaning of parent organizing and the importance of Black and Brown parents and communities fighting together for systemic change.

Roslyn is senior core leader of CADRE, an independent, community-based, organizing and social justice-driven parent membership organization in South Los Angeles, founded in 2001.


Dolores Huerta

Keynote speaker, Dolores Huerta

Saturday’s conference was even more honored to have the iconic labor union organizer and civil rights leader, Dolores Huerta speak about Black and Brown unity, dismantling systems of oppression, the importance of voting, and taking over the school boards.

Ms. Huerta now heads the Dolores Huerta Foundation, a community benefit organization headquartered in Bakersfield, which recruits, trains, organizes, and empowers grassroots leaders in low-income communities to attain social justice through systemic and structural transformation. DHF hires and trains full-time organizers who form neighborhood organizations called Vecinos Unidos (United Neighbors).

DSC CA Facebook Page

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Parent Advocacy

The Parent Organizing Exchange ended the day with breakout sessions of the five regions of California to discuss and strategize ideas for continued parent organizing in their communities.

Parent participants shared how they not only advocate for they own children, but other children in the schools and communities who are targeted by discriminatory racist policies and practices that lead to high rates of school suspensions, particularly of Black and Brown students.

Partner groups of DSC CA include parent organizers who visit schools and observe classrooms, attend Special Education IEP meetings with parents and their child, make demands for increasing the literacy rate of elementary students, push for government legislation to end suspensions for willful defiance, call for the removal of and ending district contracts with School Resource Officers (SROs, and support useful programs like Restorative Justice and PBIS in schools.

The success of the Parent Organizing Exchange left no doubt in everyone’s mind that the conference would be annual gathering of grassroots organizers who fulfill the mission of Dignity Schools Campaign-California.

How to File a Uniform Complaint Procedure Form

When it comes to defending the civil rights of children, youth, and staff of any school district, do you know that there’s a California state mandated process called the Uniform Complaint Procedures (UCP) that gives you the right to file a complaint with your school or district or ultimately the California State Department of Education to resolve injustices occurring in your school or district? 

The following is a brief summary of the UCP and the process for filing a complaint. This article does not address every aspect of the UCP process. You will need to investigate the particular procedures to follow for your school or district. However, if the process seems complicated, there are legal services that can assist you in filing a UCP complaint.

What the UCP Covers

The UCP complaint is a written and signed statement alleging a violation of select federal and state laws. 

The UCP addresses forms of discrimination including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Unlawful discrimination based on race, gender, or mental or physical disability
  • Sexual harassment
  • Health and safety complaints
  • Bullying and intimidation of a student or students
  • Disciplining of students
  • Homework policies and practices
  • Dress codes and uniforms
  • The selection of textbooks and materials
  • The lack of adequate textbooks and school materials

The UCP has been used to also address complaints for state and/or federal laws in the areas such as adult education, bilingual education, child care and development, course periods without education content, eduction for students in foster care and homeless children, migrant education, and lack of English Language Learner programs. 

When and How to File a Complaint

A complaint can be files on your own, but you can join forces with other parents whose child or children are impacted by forms of discrimination other violations the UCP covers.

Put your complaints in the form of a letter to your school or district administrator and/or school board representative. Be sure to include the names of school or district administrators. 

Every school and district (or what is legally called Local Education Agencies (LEA)) are required to post and make available Uniform Complaint Procedures. You want to first check your school’s or district’s website for a posting of the UCP form and process. At the end of this article, we include links to UCP procedures for a few schools and districts in the Central Valley.

Some districts have the complaint form available that you can review and fill it out. Some districts may not have a form. Here’s a sample form from the California Department of Education. You can also write the complaint as a letter.

Members of the Central Valley Movement Building team and associated legal services can also help you fill out the complaint form. 

What Happens Next 

  • After the form is submitted to the California Department of Education, the department will review the complaint to see if falls within the purview of UCP. 
  • The LEA (your school or district) must investigate the complaint or issue and provide a written response within 60 calendar days. 
  • The complaint is agreed upon by the LEA, the agency (school or district) is required to develop corrective plan of action. If the complaint is deemed not valid, the complaint is closed. 
  • If the complaint is deemed valid and the LEA fails to adequately address issues raised in the complaint, the complaint is referred back to the LEA once more to resolve within 20 calendar days. 
  • If the LEA doesn’t address and resolve the complaint, the State Superintendent (or his or her designee) may respond to the matter and may require corrective actions if it deems the complaint valid. 

Sample Complaint Forms and Postings  

Your Questions?

Now that you’ve had the opportunity to read this article, let us know what questions you have about the Uniform Complaint Procedures. If you have experience using the UCP process, we would love to hear from you about that process went.

CVMB Press Release: Counselors Not Cops

October 19, 2018

Press Statement For Immediate release through October 27, 2018
Subject: Central Valley Movement Building “Counselors-Not-Cops”
Contacts: (209) 286-7564/ email: cvmbconnector@gmail.com

“Counselors Not Cops: Dignity in Schools Campaign, CA – Week of Action”

Central Valley, CA.… As part of the National Week of Action Against School Pushout, the Central Valley Movement Building (CVMB) coalition, and community-based organizations from other parts of California, are holding a series of events and are sending out press releases focused on the theme and demand, “Counselors-Not-Cops: Rethinking School Safety.”

One of the reasons for the Week of Action, is that the Central Valley has the highest rates of in-and-out of school suspensions of all the regions and counties in California, that disproportionately impacts the poor, students with disabilities, LGBTQ youth and youth of color. (1)

The highest suspending districts in the Central Valley during school year 16-17 are Merced County Office of Education with a rate of 25 suspensions per 100 students and the Mojave Unified School District with a rate of 22 suspensions per 100 students. Suspensions are even occurring at the elementary level. Fairfax Elementary School District issued 81 suspensions for every 100 foster care students enrolled.  The Central Valley region has the highest suspension rates for Black students of all regions across state: 27 suspensions per 100 black students enrolled. The region has the highest suspension rates for a number of other student groups including foster youth (33 suspensions per 100 foster student) and students with disabilities, (21 suspensions per 100 students with disabilities enrolled). (2)

Suspensions and expulsions cut off students from the positive interactions of schools, also setting students up for a variety of negative life outcomes. School Resource Officers (SRO’s) interfere with the overall opportunity for students to learn, in some cases creating the very sense of fear and violence that they are supposed to prevent. Causing students to miss school or otherwise become disengaged from school sets off a chain reaction of missed opportunity that leads to a “school-to-prison pipeline” that ends in future justice involvement3.

In the Central Valley, Elk Grove Unified, Stockton Unified and Clovis Unified respectively had 873, 307, 203 referrals to law enforcement in 2015/16. The school related arrests during the same time period were lower, but still significant in other Central Valley districts, including Fresno Unified, 159, Sacramento City Unified, 158, Clovis Unified, 114 and Tulare City 56.

In 2015/16 the Central Valley had1,079,038.00 students enrolled plus 607 full time police officers and 737 full time security officers. There are more police officers and security guards in Central Valley schools (combined = 1,345) than counselors (1,315) (4).

Districts are prioritizing school police funding over student needs. For example, Clovis Unified pays for the salaries and supplies of its police department, including firearms and ammunition, with money earmarked for the needs of low-income, foster youth, and English learner students. The Clovis district LCAP includes approximately $1.5 million to fund school resource officers, with just over $741,000 of the allotted sum going to the salaries of 16 Clovis Unified Police Department officers, according to the District’s budget. District spokeswoman Kelly Avants said, on average the district spends around $3,600 on firearms and $2,281 on ammunition every year (5).

The Central Valley is an isolated and under-resourced region; however, CVMB will intentionally and collaboratively work with communities to address broad systemic and transformative changes by increasing awareness and engagement in school discipline reform and redefining school safety.

CVMB seeks to redefine school safety by asking all Central Valley school districts to do the following:

  • Adopt and implement policies designed to create a safe school culture (consisting of student/parent-led restorative justice circles resolutions.)
  • Adopt and implement alternatives to exclusionary discipline practices —including implementing Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) programs, restorative practices, parent/community oversight, culturally responsive learning and positive school/community relationship.
  • Limit the use of School Resource Officers and other law enforcement interventions to criminal and emergency situations and provide clear policy guidelines upon which the presence of law enforcement personnel is allowed and interacts on campus.
  • Eliminate Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) funding for School Resource Officers and law enforcement, and instead provide adequate LCFF funding for counselors, social workers and intervention workers.

Central Valley Movement Building is a member of Dignity in Schools Campaign California (DSC CA) whose goal is to end the School-to-Prison pipeline and to radically embrace and fight for truly safe, holistic, and healing schools for all.

As local, state, and federal officials call to further police and militarize our schools, Central Valley Movement Building and Dignity in School Campaign California reject these false solutions and demand a new vision of transformational schooling emphasizes supporting students instead of suspending them and locking them up.

For more information about the Central Valley Movement Building please go to our website: www.cvmb.org or email us at : cvmbconnector@gmail.com. Also, for more information about the Dignity in School Campaign, California go to the website: https://dignityinschools-ca.org/

 

FOOTNOTES

  1. Central Valley includes all districts in the following counties: Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare
  2. California Department of Education, DataQuest, 16/17
  3. Education under Arrest: The Case Against Police in Schools, Justice Policy Institute, November
  4. Department of Education and Office for Civil Rights, www.ed.gov/ocr
  5. https://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/education/article217308340.html

Central Valley Activities and Events for National Week of Action School Pushout

As part of the National Week of Action Against School Pushout, starting October 20-28th, and Dignity In Schools Campaign, California, Central Valley Movement Building members are hosting the following events and activities in the Central Valley. Other events and activities are being held in other regions in the state, and across the country.

Events and Activities

Rethink School Safety
Central Valley Movement Building
Press Release Statement “Counselors Not Cops: DSC CA, Week of Action”
Contact Carrie Ayala: (209) 286-7564/ email: cvmbconnector@gmail.com
Date: 10/20/2018
Time: 8:00 am

Restorative Justice Collaborative Community Forum
Black Parallel School Board
Dr. Jason Okonofua will be speaking on inequality-teacher student and race disparities in disciplinary actions against Black and Brown Students.
Date: 10/25/2018
Time: 4:00pm

Trunk or Read
Fathers & Families of San Joaquin
Event filled with fun for children and educational information to parents and community regarding literacy and education. We will be giving away candy, pumpkins, books, and I will be tabling at the event to hand out information related to Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline and dispelling myths.
Date: 10/26/2018
Time: 3:00pm

Removal of Student Resource Officers
Dolores Huerta Foundation
The Parlier Vecinos Unidos (United Neighbors) of the Dolores Huerta Foundation will be attending the Parlier Unified School Board meeting at Parlier Jr. High. Vecinos will be requesting the removal of LCAP funds for student resource officers and for the removal of the student resource officer.
Date: October 23
Time: 6:00pm

Social Media

Follow and Like CVMB Facebook Page

Link to DSC-CA Website

Follow and Like: DSC CA Facebook Page

Link to DSC National google docs with resources for National Week of Action

Link to DSC National with information about National Week of Action

Hash Tags for Week of Action

  • #CentralValley
  • #CVMB
  • #RethinkSchoolSafety
  • #StudentsNotSuspects
  • #ChangingtheNarrative
  • #PushHealingNotPushOut
  • #EndSchoolPushout
  • #EndSchooltoPrisonPipeline
  • #HealingforSafety

CVMB Regional Connector Job Announcement

The Central Valley Movement Building Team is searching for an on-going Central Valley Movement Building Regional Connector to build and develop the region’s capacity that will implement our long- term movement building goals. The position is a part of 2-year contract and located in Fresno.

Before you submit your resumé, please carefully read the job description and application process. Click HERE to download the job description.