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LCF residents speak up to board: student threats, parcel tax

District officials told to drop parcel tax, find new ways to save money.

April 17, 2013|By Sara Cardine

Residents unhappy with the La Cañada Unified School District's response to student threats, as well as its apparent hopes to seek another parcel tax, turned out at the school board meeting Tuesday to express their views.

The first discussion took place after a presentation on the district's threat assessment process made by counselors and psychologists at La Cañada High School and Palm Crest and Paradise Canyon elementary schools. Those experts joined with Tamara Jackson, the district's director of special education, to update the public on crisis response in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting and the March 1 campus death of LCHS student Campbell Taylor.

"This is an effort to protect our children from every kind of harm, whether it's self-injurious or a kind of harm coming from another student," LCHS school psychologist Ana Aydinian said in the presentation.

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The team outlined the collaborative processes for dealing with student threats of harm and violence in which counselors and staff work to assess the situation, contact parents, and coordinate mental health care and follow-up.

School board member Joel Peterson explained his own encounter with the procedure six years ago, when a statement his son, then in the third grade, made was construed as a threat. He referred to that process as "stringent and inflexible," but expressed his overall appreciation, especially regarding self-threats.

Two parents, however, told the board about their personal interaction, and dissatisfaction, with LCUSD's threat assessment process. Mary White said when a claim was made against her child, she asked for evidence and information that would clarify the process. Her request was rejected, she said.

"I was told there were no files, there was no data and a decision [had been] made. And it was a terrible decision," White said. "The district needs to have a process so that a parent two hours away … who gets a phone call will have confidence there's a firm process in place."

Parent Belinda Randolph briefly shared a similar encounter, agreeing with board member Andrew Blumenfeld's request that a board policy be made requiring the threat assessment process be adhered to districtwide.

Parcel tax

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