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  • Writer's pictureAllison Harvey

Board Meeting Notes 9/9/2020

The notes below are simply a summary of what I heard during the meeting. They are not direct quotes unless specified and they are only my summary of what I heard throughout the meeting. Here is the link to the agenda:

Reporting out on closed session: They have been working on a process for the superintendents evaluation. (Couldn't hear all comments due to technology issues.)

Closed Sessions Public Comments: (Direct comments submitted to the district)

1. Anonymous: It is very disappointing that not one of the 21 public comments at the September 8 Special Board Meeting were addressed or answered. In fact, they were dismissed by the Board President because he stated that the purpose of the Special Meeting was a board training and not the Performance Evaluation of the Superintendent, despite the Agenda clearly stating that the purpose of the closed session was indeed the Performance Evaluation of Julie Kehoe. Today's agenda, as always, states the purpose of the closed session is for the Superintendent's performance evaluation. Parents are constantly speaking up, asking questions and are ignored. Why are our concerns not important? Why are our questions not answered? When will our School Board and Superintendent be held accountable to simply answer questions?

2. Crystal Tobin, Parent- 5th grader at WHS: Can you please provide us with a specific timeline of when in-person instruction will begin? What is the criteria that needs to be met to move from 1 phase to another? What has been done already to prepare for in-person instruction? What is currently being done to prepare and what still needs to be done? What obstacles need to be overcome in order to provide full-time in person instruction? Will there be an option for full-time in person instruction rather than the 2 day per week hybrid model? I believe that it is critical that our children return to in person instruction as soon as possible. My son is experiencing anxiety, depression, loneliness and extreme frustration with distance learning. These definite mental health issues far outweigh any potential risk for COVID exposure. His mental health issues are real and happening right now. Please allow our kids back in school. Please do whatever is necessary to implement any procedures that are required for this. Please keep parents informed and let us know what we can do to assist. Thank you.

Open Session Public comments: (Direct comments submitted to the district)

1. Allison Harvey- General Comment: I would like to start by thanking our teachers. Many are working late into the night and through the weekend. I can see that. I appreciate that. We are so grateful to our teachers and principals for their extremely hard work. I am aware that there were 21 comments in the special board meeting on September 2. It seemed like these comments were brushed off by President Pierce when he stated that the purpose of the meeting was not for the superintendents review but instead a board training. The special meeting agenda stated otherwise; specifically indicating that the sole purpose was for the review. I think this discrepancy needs to be addressed. I also am concerned that the board will be taking action after this special meeting. President Pierce said no action would be taken when going into closed session but I was made aware the board came back at 3:30 and reported they would take action in the form of a review of Superintendent Kehoe on or around September 17, 2020.

With regard to Julie Kehoe’s Public Employee Performance Evaluation, I would request that the board conduct a full 360 review of Ms. Kehoe using input from the community, parents

and teachers. This request is based on the reported action of the board on June 19, 2019. In that meeting President Piper reported out after a closed session regarding the Public Employee Performance Evaluation of Julie Kehoe that the board had developed a survey which would get input for the Superintendent evaluation. The survey was to be performed in the middle of the year and the final evaluation would be in June of 2020. When President Piper was questioned about who it would cover she indicated it would be a sample of all stakeholders. Stakeholders for a district would include parents, teachers and community members. It is my understanding that this survey has not yet been conducted. It is also my understanding that this survey must be conducted before Ms. Kehoe’s final review is completed.

I would like to request Julie Kehoe’s Public Employee Performance Evaluation is put on the agenda for the next board meeting for discussion in public session. While I understand the actual performance evaluation is a closed session item reporting out on the action the board is going to take is not. Specifically, I would like the board to provide a status update as to whether they will be conducting the review using input from the community, parents and teachers and how they will get that input and if the board is not going to use input from the community why they won’t be when it was a reported out action at the June 2019 meeting. I would request this agenda item is covered prior to conducting the actual review.

When 21 parents take the time to submit public comment and over 75 sign a petition regarding the performance of our Superintendent that should not go unrecognized by our board.

Thank you.

2. Kristin Brown, Parent: Thank you, teachers, for all of the extra work put forth for distance learning. As we know there are many challenges. As a parent I am losing trust and faith in the Superintendent’s ability to lead our school district through this crisis. It is already September 9th and we are just receiving information during this board meeting on how the district is planning to reopen school. Colfax Elementary has students with IEP’s on campus as of this week and are moving forward with plans to reopen at some capacity. I am wondering how Ms. Kehoe could initially say that schools will not reopen until October, when larger districts are already reopening. My understanding is that the district applied and received the CARES ACT, how is that being used to reopen schools? I am currently exploring options for my children’s education. I gave the district the benefit of the doubt that there would have been a plan in place and ready to execute when the county was given the green light. Private schools have applied for the waiver and have already reopened to full capacity. I currently have an appointment to tour and test my children for placement at a private school in Auburn tomorrow. Where will enrollment be at the end of the 20/21 school year if parents continue to be forced to explore other options for their children’s education? I do not feel that Ms. Kehoe has provided the resources necessary to keep students on track and engaged during this transitional time. Why are we not utilizing our aides to support the students and teachers during this time? The district funding was based on enrollment prior to COVID so their salary should remain in this years budget.

3. Anonymous: I am resubmitting this comment, as I feel that it is important for the public to hear in open session. It is very disappointing that not one of the 21 public comments at the September 8 Special Board Meeting were addressed or answered. In fact, they were dismissed by the Board President because he stated that the purpose of the Special Meeting was a board training and not the Performance Evaluation of the Superintendent, despite the Agenda clearly stating that the purpose of the closed session was indeed the Performance Evaluation of Julie Kehoe. Today's agenda, as always, states the purpose of the closed session is for the Superintendent's performance evaluation. Parents are constantly speaking up, asking questions and are ignored. Why are our concerns not important? Why are our questions not answered? When will our School Board and Superintendent be held accountable to simply answer questions?

4. Anonymous: I would like to remind the Board of the petition letter that was submitted last week and to date has 73 signatures. For those who have not yet seen it, the letter is as follows: As parents of Placer Hills Union School District, we are signing this petition to get the attention of our School Board. The School Board must know that we do not support the leadership of Superintendent Julie Kehoe. She has proven that she is not the right fit for our school district. We are frustrated by her lack of transparency and communication. She remains uninvolved and detached from our community, unwilling and unable to understand, empathize or respond to our challenges and concerns. Ms. Kehoe's ongoing actions and decisions do not reflect the moral values of this community and have resulted in complete distrust by parents, staff and community members. Constantly, the best interests of our children and the staff of our schools are not her top priority. Ms. Kehoe's leadership skills lack quality and our school district deserves better. We are a small community and while each individual has their own examples and justification for their dissatisfaction with Superintendent Julie Kehoe, as a group the purpose of this petition is to make ourselves heard by the School Board. We will stand together and demand change.

5. Bryan Lynch, Parent: Hi, First, big thanks to all the teachers and staff making the best of this situation! My question is in regards to to the current plan lack of specific details. The administration knew at the end of last year that approx. 87% of families wanted to go back to in person. Are you prioritizing working on a plan to return since school started? If so- when will these details be shared? Thanks!

Superintendent Julie Kehoe recognized of Employees and their years of service.

Agenda Item 11. Public Hearing: Sufficiency of Instructional Materials

Trevor Rogas, Teacher, Sufficiency of Materials: (Comment as submitted to district): As a third grade teacher, I do not have any materials related to the Hardcourt Brace Social Studies curriculum listed on this paper, nor have I ever seen or heard of this material. I also think it's worth noting that we are not in the "middle" of a Science adoption. I have been at Sierra Hills for four years now, and have not had a science curriculum in that time. I know that the process was begun late last year, but I don't know how far into that process we truly are. I know we are supposed to have adopted NGSS curriculum a long time ago, but this has not happened. Hope this helps clarify and correct this Sufficiency of Materials.

Item 12.2: Agenda: Public Comment: (Direct comment submitted to the district) Anonymous Agenda Item 12.2: It appears the meeting minutes from the special board meeting on September 2, 2020 are missing.

Item 12.5 Ryland Contract: Public Comment (Direct comment submitted to the district): Allison Harvey, Parent, Community Member Agenda Item 12.5: What is this contract for? What is the proposed budget spend attributed to this?

Trevor Rogas, Agenda Item 12.5: (Direct comment submitted to the district): Four months ago, I made a comment at a board meeting regarding Ryland Consulting. As I mentioned at that time, Ms. Kehoe told the board that Ryland Consulting was hired to help Ms. Reome in her first year of employment. At the time I made my comment, our district had paid Ryland Consulting $21,080 since Ms. Reome had been hired. When I made my comment, I asked the board these questions: Is this the time for our Board to be approving this type of spending? Has the board reviewed these hourly consultants, to see if their hours can be reduced or eliminated? How will the Board be directing changes to this type of discretionary spending? At the time, my questions were neither answered nor acknowledged. It is now four months later. Four months that have seen elimination of positions, restricted hours, reclassified employees, vacated positions not filled and dire budget predictions. And the total paid to Ryland Consulting has now risen to $22,640. Why is this board being asked to renew the contract with Ryland as Ms. Reome begins her third year of employment with the district?

Comments from Superinendent Kehoe: The contract is so Mary Reome has support and to do a review of her work as a second set of eyes to ensure that the work is being done correctly. There were issues in the past before Ms. Reome. Board voted and approved the contract.

13. Reports. (missed a few)

13.4 Site Reports. Both Principals stated their staff have been working very hard and they are very proud of what they did in coming back to school.

13.6 Superintendent report: The administration started working today with ABEA to create a plan for coming back to school. No parent feedback has been requested thus far because the administration was working within the state guidelines. Now that they can reopen they will be sending out a survey for input.

16.1. Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan Public Hearing

16.1 LCAP. Superintendent Julie Kehoe stated: This is not our traditional LCAP but a different LCAP acronym.

Here is the LCAP in the agenda:

16_1_2021LCAP_0 (2)
Download PDF • 710KB

Public Comment: (Actual Comments Received by the Board)

1. Allison Harvey, Parent, Community Member, Agenda Item 16.1: Stakeholder Engagement: With regard to the focus group meetings it appears it has been over a month since the last meeting was held. With return to school concerns and the need for parent and stakeholder participation when will these resume? It seems it would be critical to have stakeholder participation in the plan for the return to school.

Access to Devises and Connectivity: Our family is one that has not yet been supported with a hotspot. We have had extreme difficulty with internet access which the school is aware of. There was no individualized program offered.

Distance Learning Professional Development: It appears to say that there was Google training in the professional development section of the LCAP. The teachers have stated that there was no professional Google training.

Actions related to Distance Learning: There also seems to have been a lack of assistance with classroom preparation. Many teachers were left to fend for themselves to set up their classroom in a conducive way that will promote distance learning. While desk stands are listed in this portion of the LCAP it appears that they were just offered to teachers within the last week or so. I've witnessed teachers using books to prop up their desks currently.

The new iReady platform is extremely frustrating for students. The teachers I spoke to indicated that they were never formally consulted with about switching from the Accelerated Reader (AR) program to iReady. Informally I understand teachers expressed a desire to stay using the AR program to Superintendent Kehoe. I also understand that the AR program was highly successful and a great resource for teachers to properly assess and encourage children to learn. AR also appears to be much cheaper than iReady. The teachers didn't receive any justification about why the switch was made and I don't see that the board approved making the switch to a much more expensive program. $43,980 is a lot of money for iReady. AR was much cheaper. Why was there a switch from AR to iReady when AR was already known and working? Why didn't the board have to approve such an expensive switch?

2. April Livingston, Parent: Our children need to be back in class, distance learning is a huge struggle, our children are getting frustrated because logging into classes is to difficult for them, they’re being marked absent because they’re struggling to log in. Parents are getting frustrated because we’re struggling with it too, some teachers have been awesome with schedules and planning others not so much, some teachers respond to emails some don’t which makes it hard to have your child participating in class when you can’t get answers from the teachers.

3. Anonymous, Parent: With regard to the hybrid return to school plan, what will the students be doing on the days that their cohort is home? Will they be participating in Independent Study on those days? I have heard rumor that they will be expected to log into Google Classroom/Meet and attend the live class while the teacher is teaching (like the high school). I would appreciate clarification so that parents can make an informed decision regarding which option to choose (continue distance learning or change to hybrid when available) when the survey comes out.

4. Laurel Klein, SHS Site Council President: I am writing to request that the board share publicly the results of the student assessments in ELA and mathematics described in the LCAP. The results should also have a breakout for our most at-risk students: Foster Youth, English Learners and Low-income. This population of students enables us to receive an additional $400,000 of funding which is meant to support a more equitable education for them. I would like the board to publicly share the initial results when students first returned to school this fall, as well as continue to share subsequent results at least each trimester. I would also strongly recommend that the board require standardized social-emotional learning assessments to be given too, as this is a crucial area that affects our students’ ability to progress in more traditional subjects. Without objective, measurable data we are forced to rely solely on subjective opinions and individual experiences.

5. Laurel Klein, SHS Ste Council President: I appreciated all of the details put into the plan regarding the meetings held with different stakeholders, as well as the learning from them and the subsequent actions taken to address those concerns. I think it is important to continue those meetings as we move from Phase 1 to Phase 2 and then, hopefully, to Phase 3. I suggest that the principals now each lead their own single, school-site committee with appropriate representation from key stakeholders to ensure a more tailored approach to in-person needs. I look to our superintendent to ensure the site plans are integrated as needed, to illicit and share creative ideas from other districts and to provide coaching and feedback to the committees and their plans. One issue in particular that I see that needs to be addressed is how learning will be continued when an individual student or teacher is forced to quarantine, as well as when a whole class must quarantine. Also, how can the district support working families if there are frequent shifts between in-person and distance learning due to imposed quarantines?

5. Katherine Katches, Parent: As a Mother and a Child Development Major my main concern for my child and other students has always been their Social and Emotional Needs. When these needs are not met their ability to learn and focus is diminished. My Kindergarten daughter who loves to be with friends loved her preschool teacher and rarely didn't want to go to class, has now said every morning "I hate School" and has on random occasions broke down in tears saying "I miss my friends, I am all alone". Getting her to focus and redirect her is a chore while I try to work as well. It's a constant battle, and usually an emotional one. Many parents get on Social Media and almost every day post about the issues they are having with their children, technical issues, requirements put on them they cant meet etc. Some say it comes down to the Parents modeling a positive outlook etc. I do our best to not talk poorly about the situation, encourage her to get to class so when school resumes shes not behind, talk about why she should attend. She doesn't want to be there. Between the smoke and being stuck indoors, distance learning my child is emotionally struggling. If there is no plan of change for attending in-person Very Soon, even if part-time I will have to highly consider pulling my child out and do Home school, where my child and I will have more freedom to learn and not be stuck on a tablet for 4 hours in the day, where we can take the breaks as well feel best. At some point, we have to consider these children's Mental Well Being just as much as their physical! Its time to get these kids back in the classroom. Thank you!

6. Katherine Katches, Parent: When Hybrid learning starts (Part-Time in person), it would be very much appreciated if parents were able to give their first and second choices of what option worked best for them and the student, their family work schedules, other students schedules in the house Etc. I realize this might not work across the board as if the whole class picks the same option its not feasible but some families have legit reasons for certain days and nice to be able to voice what days worked better between the 2 options.

Public comment was accepted. The public hearing was closed.

Superintendent Julie Kehoe presented about the LCAP:

- 250 Chromebooks have been distributed.

- the rest of the Chromebooks will come in October

- 80 hotspots distributed

- No report on how many in total were ordered; Julie didn't know how many people still

were on the list, but she knows it is a lot

- There are links to training videos on the district website

- Technology for teachers: all teachers have laptops and have been given extra money for microphones etc. Waiting on training based on the fact that teachers are stretched so thin.

- The county didn't get the Aries accounts accessible for all students

- at some point Google will update with breakout rooms which will be good for students and staff

- Board Member Dr. Joyce Bradshaw asked about the comment lack of training with Google. Asked if teachers were fully trained now. Julie said that she would have to follow up with the teachers. Board Member Sarah Schopfer stated that the district couldn't know what the teachers don't know.

16.3. Reopening of School Plan

Here is the plan and the guidance:

16_3_ReopeningPresentation_0 (5)
Download PDF • 754KB

16_3_ReopeningGuidance_0 (3)
Download PDF • 448KB

16.3 Public comments: (As submitted to the board).

1. Allison Harvey, Parent: Agenda Item 16.3:

In Phase 2 Hybrid learning it states that there will be a blend of in person and independent learning. Is the independent learning going to be handled as an independent study format? If not, how will it be handled?

Will the 2 days a week when the children go to school follow the same distance learning schedule? (ie: Slide 5: current school day times would remain in place).

What if a family does not want to go back? Will there still be full distance options? How will that be administered?

How many additional staff are being hired? (ie: Custodians and aids)

How will the smaller cohorts of students be selected to come back first?

How will the students be spaced in their desks when they share tables in many cases?

2. Anonymous, Parent: Agenda Item- Reopening Presentation: If the district goes to a hybrid schedule what kind of instruction would student's get on day's that they are not attending school in person? Are the teachers having to manage a live google meet and in person instruction at the same time?

3. Jennifer Woodbridge, Parent, Agenda Item 16.3: I hope the district takes re-opening slowly and does not succumb to the pressure to get back in person too early. It is important to look at other school districts who have returned and see what is happening at their schools - let them go first and show what works and what doesn't. It would be devastating to reopen and then have to go back to full time distance learning because of a resurgence. I would rather have our students continue as is and go back when we are confident that we will remain open and be safe. With the winter flu season upon us, I feel we are rushing to return too quickly.

Superintendent Julie Kehoe Comments regarding 16.3:

There is a lot involved with bringing our students back and she believes there are mixed feelings about what people want. Bringing students back will be done in a way so that the whole district does not have to shut down. There are requirements that we have to meet with reopening. There now are testing centers just for schools which will allow rapid results. A restriction to coming back is the contract with the teachers union. They will be meeting on Monday to discuss the contract.

We are in phase 1

We will be moving into Phase 2. It will be a blend of independent at home instruction. In school instruction hours would mirror the same hours as current distance learning hours. They would not be logging into google meet as they are now. They would be in person or instruction at home.

The survey will ask about required accommodations ie: siblings having the same schedule or full distance for some families.

There may be a phase 2.5 where kids come back more but not full time.

Phase 4 full unrestricted is the goal at some point. This would be back to normal life.

Board Member Dr. Joyce Bradshaw asked what would happen if there was an outbreak. Are there specific numbers? Julie answered they are following the guidance. It is all in the plan. No numbers were given.

Superintendent Julie Kehoe stated: Waiting to do reopening guidance - didn't want to discuss tonight.

Wants to make sure students and staff have time to prepare for the transition and have an agreement in place. They are in the process of hiring additional staff. Working with other staff to determine how many people are needed ie: custodial, aids, secretaries etc.

Priorities are bringing back small cohorts first. Students with special needs are those students that will be brought back first.

Next steps:

- Surveying parents about in person instruction and about distance learning.

- Figuring out the flow.

- Stay flexible

Board member Katie Schiavone asked when there would be specific guidelines and plans? Asked if students will be coming back before the next board meeting.

Superintendent Julie Kehoe stated: Answer: maybe they will be coming back before the next board meeting. Julie said she will have to go back to the teachers. The Principals need time to establish their own plans and revisit the already proposed schedules. The Principals need a couple of weeks. No date as to when the plan should be established.

Board member Dr. Joyce Bradshaw - do you have a sense of how many kids want distance learning and how you will accommodate? Superintendent Julie Kehoe: The only information is the survey from the spring. She thinks feelings could have changed. She still needs to survey the parents to find out. The students who want to continue with distance learning they would continue as they are doing it now. The teacher portion might be different. Whatever the distance learning class schedule is that will not be disrupted.

Superintendent Julie Kehoe: Any public comment not yet answered in the plan she will bring back in the next meeting.

Board Member Dr. Joyce Bradshaw - the families that are having mental health issues what can we do right now for them? Superintendent Julie Kehoe: they are already handling the mental health issues and are working case by case. There is a hotline (George) is available to do assessments to determine if there is a mental health crisis. Let teachers know if there is a concerns. Board Member Sarah Schopfer says teachers should already be surveying their classes to determine if there is mental health issues.

Board Member Dr. Joyce Bradshaw wants all of the future board meetings to be discussed.

Superintendent Julie Kehoe stated: Special Board meeting Wednesday at 5:30 to approve LCP. No mention of a special meeting regarding board meeting for Julie's review.

Additional Public Comment: (actual comment received by board).

Juli Longtin, Teacher, ABEA President Agenda Item 17: Thank you for the effort to make the meeting more accessible, but for the record, it was very challenging to hear comments and discussions due to sound quality, and the distance from the camera of the meeting participants made it nearly impossible to see their engagement.

Meeting adjourned.

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