The Bakersfield City School District may be in legal trouble because it cut summer school without consulting parents, teachers, and students first, according to attorneys.
BCSD canceled the program citing budget cuts, saying it can’t afford the $1.7 million it takes to implement the program.
However, Lyndsi Andrea, an attorney with the Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance (GBLA), said, “If the school district wants to revise that plan, that budget, then they have to go through that process to get input from parents, students, teachers.“
In response, BCSD superintendent Doc Ervin said, “the district is following the process. We’re getting a lot of input from our parents, and from our superintendent advisory committee. Before we make any major decisions in our district, we try to take to our advisory committee as much as we can.“
After much backlash from students, parents, and teachers, the district announced it would implement a modified summer school this year. It will be a 16-day program at four schools: Casa Loma, Longfellow, and Stella Hills Elementary Schools, as well as Emerson Middle. The new program is made possible by a recent grant from Comprehensive Support and Improvement.
“Yes we have four schools that made it on to this list, and they deserve remediation, but we have students across the board not just needing remediation, but enrichment,“ said Bakersfield elementary teachers union president, Steve Comstock.
However, the original summer school program is still canceled–leaving the question: where will the $1.7 million be spent instead?
“The district is violating California law by not being open about where those funds are beings spent,“ Andrea added.
Wherever those funds go, attorneys say they still must benefit low-income students, foster youth, and English-language learners like summer school did.
As a result, the GBLA filed a formal complaint with the California Department of Education.
On April 9th, the district will hold another public hearing. The board will make a final decision regarding summer school on Tuesday, April 23rd. All meetings are at 6 p.m. in the BCSD board room at 1300 Baker Street.