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Parents make plea to keep Foothills School

March 05, 2009|By Mary O’Keefe

The most important issue to the majority in the large audience at Tuesday night’s school board meeting was not whether or not the board would go forward with a parcel tax (that decision is reported on page 1) but instead the fate of the special education Foothills School.

Parents and staff from the school spoke to the board during public communications on the importance of keeping the school at its present 4490 Cornishon Ave. location. The district was made aware last week of the possibility that the Foothills School would be closed and the students moved to a larger Burbank facility, Magnolia Park School.

Foothills School has a present enrollment of six. These children, explained one parent, are the ones who can easily fall through the cracks.

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“They are invisible,” she said.

Parents argued that shutting the La Cañada location down and transferring the students to Burbank would be, in some cases, devastating to their children.

“We moved to La Cañada because of this school,” said one parent whose son attends Foothills. “They have nurtured him at Foothills and he is now in dual enrollment with La Cañada High School.”

Suzanne Trulik, a teacher at Foothills, argued that the students at the La Cañada location couldn’t easily move to Burbank.

“Now they can get on a bus and a quick ride down to the high school,” she said.

Trulik explained that getting in a taxi to travel to Burbank would be extremely difficult for the Foothills children, who live in this area.

“These are your students,” Trulik said. “You should want to keep your kids in your district. Isn’t the goal to serve our kids in our community?”

Wendy Sinnette, assistant superintendent of human resources, told the audience that the vote for the evening was to allow the district to send out lay-off notices to teachers at the Foothill Schools if in fact it is ultimately recommended to move to Burbank. In accordance to state law, districts must notify teachers who will be laid off by March 15. The district voted to allow those notices to be set, but the fate of the school is not in the hands of the board.

Special Education Local Area (SELPA), an organization that is separate from the districts it serves, controls the school. The decision on whether the school stays open in La Cañada rests with that agency.

School board members had not heard of the issue until Tuesday night.

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