November 2019 Vol. 25, 11
Teacher with some students studying for the CAASPP
CAASPP results show slow improvements, gaps persist
In October, the California Department of Education released the results of the 2018–19 Smarter Balanced English language arts/literacy and mathematics assessments.

Given that these scores represent the fifth year of implementation, it is a good opportunity to reflect on the trends in California and opportunities and areas for schools, districts and county offices of education to focus on in the future.

The California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress is given to students in grades 3-8 and 11. The Smarter Balanced tests are part of CAASPP, which also includes the California Science Test, standards-based tests in Spanish and the California Alternate Assessments for students who have the most significant cognitive disabilities.

Ninth Circuit Court clarifies impact of settlement of due process complaints, access to courts
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, parents and school districts can request a due process hearing to challenge whether a student has been provided a Free Appropriate Public Education through his or her Individualized Education Program.

The Office of Administrative Hearings, and the Administrative Law Judges employed by OAH preside over these hearings in California. School districts, county offices of education and parents are encouraged to resolve their disputes through mediation, which is voluntary. If a resolution cannot be reached, or the parties refuse to participate in mediation, the parties may request a due process hearing before the OAH. OAH decisions can be appealed to state and federal courts in California. Importantly, plaintiffs must exhaust these administrative remedies under IDEA before bringing an appeal or lawsuit in court.

The process does not always go this neatly, though. Parents have at times resolved their dispute through mediation with the district, and then subsequently brought additional claims in court alleging the school district violated related laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.


Senior Director of Communications:
Troy Flint |

Managing Editor:
Kimberly Sellery |

Marketing Director:

Serina Pruitt |

Staff Writers and Contributors:
Manuel Buenrostro |
Andrew Cummins |
Aaron Davis |
Alisha Kirby |
Barbara Laifman |
Mike Ambrose |

Graphic Design Manager:
Kerry Macklin |

Senior Graphic Designer:
Mauricio Miranda |

Emma Turner | La Mesa-Spring Valley SD

Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez | Azusa USD

Vice President:
Tamara Otero | Cajon Valley Union USD

Immediate Past President:
Mike Walsh | Butte COE

CEO & Executive Director:
Vernon M. Billy

The California School Boards Association is the essential voice for public education. We inspire our members to be knowledgeable leaders, extraordinary governance practitioners and ardent advocates for all students.

California School News (ISSN 1091-1715) is published 11 times per year by the California School Boards Association, Inc., 3251 Beacon Blvd., West Sacramento, CA 95691. 916-371-4691. $4 of CSBA annual membership dues is for the subscription to California School News. The subscription rate for each CSBA nonmember is $35. Periodicals postage paid at West Sacramento, CA and at additional mailing office. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to California School News, 3251 Beacon Blvd., West Sacramento, CA 95691.

News and feature items submitted for publication are edited for style and space as necessary.

President’s Message: Emma Turner
Emma Turner
The push for Full and Fair Funding continues

As I reflect on my year as CSBA President, I want to express what an honor it has been to represent California’s largest body of democratically elected public officials and the more than 6.2 million children that we fight for every day. This has been an eventful year in our state and our association’s history. The year began with a new governor who incorporated the voices of district and county board members into some of his first actions by including pension relief for school districts in his inaugural budget proposal and signing a charter school transparency measure for which CSBA had long advocated. In May, CSBA joined the California Teachers Association and other education partners for a momentous rally on the steps of the Capitol Building, working together to call on the Legislature for the Full and Fair FundingSM of California’s public schools.

And just last month, a coalition led by CSBA, the Association of California School Administrators and the Community College League of California submitted language to the Attorney General’s Office for the Full and Fair Funding: Public School Progress, Prosperity, and Accountability Act. Although this is just the latest milestone on a long and winding road, it brings our Full and Fair Funding initiative a step closer to providing the resources that will help every student reach their full potential, regardless of their circumstances. The measure would generate $15 billion annually to support learning in the state’s K-12 public schools and community colleges and raise California from 38th nationally in school funding to the national average.

aec highlights
The Annual Education Conference and Trade Show is CSBA’s premier continuing education program, delivering practical solutions to help governance teams from districts and county offices of education improve student learning and achievement. This year’s conference takes place from Dec. 5–7 in San Diego. Visit for more information or to register.
AEC Third General Session:
An inside look at politics, media and education
“Eye on Education — The Media, Politics and Public Schools” will feature CSBA CEO & Executive Director Vernon M. Billy in a lively discussion with a panel of journalists and media influencers as they dissect the key state and federal education issues that impact California’s 6.2 million public school students.
The can’t-miss session from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Dec. 7, will offer school board members behind-the-scenes perspectives of the politics central to public education. From charter school laws to K-12 funding levels to curriculum debates, observers were reminded once again in 2019 of the foundational role politics play in education policy.

Panelists will include CalMatters columnist Dan Walters, Politico California education reporter Mackenzie Mays and Capitol Advisors Group President Kevin Gordon.

aec highlights
AEC Application
Conference attendees will be able to download AEC app to a mobile device through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store by searching for AEC 2019.
AEC Application
Conference attendees will be able to download AEC app to a mobile device through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store by searching for AEC 2019.
AEC First General Session:
An interview with Dr. Michio Kaku
Dr. Michio Kaku, a widely recognized figure in the science world
Dr. Michio Kaku is one of the most widely recognized figures in science in the world today. He is an internationally recognized authority in two areas: Einstein’s unified field theory, which Dr. Kaku is attempting to complete, and predicting trends affecting business, medicine, finance and our way of life, based on the latest research in science. California School News interviewed Dr. Kaku in advance of his speaking engagement for the First General Session on Thursday, Dec. 5, at this year’s AEC in San Diego.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you became interested in physics and predicting the future of technology? Did your interest start from a young age or develop later?

aec highlights
AEC Second General Session:
Author Ron Suskind knows the value of storytelling
Author Ron Suskind
To say Ron Suskind is a fan of stories barely scratches the surface of how they have impacted his life, and, as he would contend, all our lives. As a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Suskind shared stories of the struggles faced by inner-city honors students in Washington, D.C. As an author of six best-selling books, including Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington and the Education of a President — considered the definitive work on the Obama presidency and the 2008 financial crisis — and The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House and the Education of Paul O’Neil, he pulled back the curtain to reveal the kinds of stories non-insiders are rarely privy to.
aec highlights
AEC Pre-conference:
An A–Z overview of school facilities
Attendees don’t have to wait until AEC begins on Dec. 5 to start learning. In addition to a slate of returning pre-conference offerings, a half-day school facilities forum beginning at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 4, will offer perspectives on the future of funding California’s school facilities.

Attendees will learn about the current state of school facilities provided by CSBA, industry experts, school board members and education stakeholders. Topics will include important facility plan requirements and an examination of the role of school board members in the success of facilities projects.

“The tools that board members take away from this presentation will help shape their future conversations about facilities,” said CSBA Legislative Advocate Eric Bakke, who will moderate three panels throughout the event. Bakke further explained that information is power in the facilities world. “The thing that can get districts in trouble is what they don’t know,” he said.

CSBA adopts equity statement
CSBA Equity Statement
CSBA recognizes that educational excellence requires a commitment to equity. California students bring a wide range of assets, abilities, backgrounds, and needs to their educational experience. Schools have an obligation to provide all students with the access and opportunities necessary for college, career, and life success. This requires school leaders to address practices, policies, and barriers that perpetuate inequities which lead to opportunity and achievement gaps. Effective school boards are equity-driven, making intentional governance decisions that combat institutional discrimination and bias (both explicit and implicit) and eliminate disparities in educational outcomes based on socioeconomic status, gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, or family background.
Students showing the importance of equity
CSBA’s vision calls on the organization to inspire its members “to be knowledgeable leaders, extraordinary governance practitioners and ardent advocates for all students.”CSBA’s mission holds that “strong local boards of education are essential to ensure a high-quality education for every student in every community. The only way to realize these goals is to place equity at the heart of board members’ governance and advocacy work.To better define for members and the public where the association stands on the issue of equity, the Board of Directors approved the CSBA Equity Statement at its September meeting.
Newly signed laws change the landscape of charter school petitions and renewals
Call it the “year of charter school reform” in the California Legislature. There was no denying the omnipresence of discussions on several charter school bills throughout 2019 in the halls of the Capitol. There’s more work to be done, but, for now, there’s plenty to unpack.
Charter school students in the midst of legislative changes
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bills 1505 (O’Donnell, D-Long Beach) and 1507 (Smith, D-Santa Clarita) on Oct. 3, flanking Senate Bill 126 (Leyva & O’Donnell), a charter transparency measure long sought by CSBA that was signed earlier in the year. Taken together, these bills represent arguably the most sweeping amendments to California’s charter school laws since they were enacted more than a quarter century ago.
Resources can guide leaders through difficult decisions during wildfire season
A challenging combination of raging wildfires, poor air quality and planned power outages meant to prevent further fires has already led to myriad school closures up and down the Golden State this fall — with significant time left in the state’s wildfire season. California’s dynamic weather patterns, climate change, historic winds and dangerously low humidity will likely pose severe risks through November, if not beyond.
Considering the paramount importance of student and staff safety, school district and county office of education leaders can use several resources in helping them make prudent decisions about school closures, outdoor time for students, after-school activities and other pressing issues.
Food insecurity remains critical issue for many households with children
California was among 22 states that saw food insecurity decline significantly from 2013–15 to 2016–18, but a highly concerning 10.6 percent of the state’s households were still categorized as food insecure in 2018, according to a new report from the USDA’s Economic Research Service.
Children eating at school

Food insecurity was also found to be significantly more common than the national average of 11.1 percent for households with children, particularly those headed by single men or women. Among U.S. households with children under age 18, 13.9 percent were food insecure at some point during 2018. Among single-mother households with children, that rate climbs to 27.8 percent. And among single-father households with children, 15.9 percent were food insecure.

Deadline approaches for mandated policy on bullying prevention

Recognizing that bullying and fear disrupt student learning, California state law requires districts, county offices of education and charter schools to adopt procedures for preventing acts of bullying, including cyberbullying, by Dec. 31, 2019.

Additionally, state law mandates that boards adopt a policy prohibiting discrimination, harassment, intimidation and bullying based on disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, nationality, race, ethnicity, immigration status, religion and sexual orientation, or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.

Bullying negatively affects school climate and therefore hurts all students’ educational experiences. The American Psychological Association has found that students who are victims of bullying experience higher rates of school avoidance and dropping out, lower academic achievement, increased emotional challenges and higher likelihood of suicide attempts. The 2015–17 California Healthy Kids Survey indicated that 34 percent of seventh-grade students, 31 percent of ninth-grade students and 28 percent of 11th-grade students reported being harassed or bullied on school property. Other studies have shown that about 20 percent of students across these surveyed grade levels report experiencing cyberbullying.

New report highlights discipline disparities for Native American students

While much attention has been directed toward addressing disproportionate suspension and expulsion rates between African American students and their peers, a recent study shows Native American youth face similarly disproportionate rates of discipline.

In a joint report from the Sacramento Native American Higher Education Collaborative and the Community College Equity Assessment Lab at San Diego State University, district self-reported data submitted to the California Department of Education showed the statewide suspension rate for Native American students reached more than 7 percent during the 2017–18 school year — more than double the statewide average of 3.5 percent for all students.

Researchers also found that Native American boys had the highest expulsion rate of any ethnic or gender group at 9.6 percent, 4.2 times higher than the state average. That number has steadily risen over the years, according to the report, which is available in full at

Creating the From Boarding Schools to Suspension Boards report
Crystal Martinez-Alire Headshot
By Crystal Martinez-Alire, CSBA Director-at-Large, Native American

The Sacramento Native American Higher Education Collaborative is a regionally based workgroup that I was a part of made up of American Indian/Native faculty, staff, administrators, community members and students affiliated with local community colleges, universities and the California Tribal College and Wilton Rancheria. The workgroup was created to discuss intersegmental designs of pathways for American Indian/Native students. The mission of the workgroup is to identify solutions for improving access, retention, success and the overall experience for American Indian students in public education. During my time participating on the committee, there have been several opportunities to engage with other Native American community members and representatives in an informative manner in order to discuss and collaborate around resources, college workshops and Native American student achievement.

county boards
Our advocacy power multiplies when we work together
This space is usually dedicated to the “year in review” and, certainly, any review of this past year in California’s education community would have to speak to the changes that arrived along with our new Governor and the attendant focus on education in the Legislature. Chief among these changes from a board perspective is some emphasis on school funding, including support for infrastructure improvements and significant efforts to address, at least in part, districts’ and county offices’ otherwise-escalating pension obligations. One might also say that the reforms made to charter school law are ultimately as impactful to governing boards, especially in terms of the day-to-day work we do.

For our organizations, the year gone by saw a tremendous amount of teamwork on shared objectives and, I think, respect between district board members and county board members continues to grow, accordingly. A great deal of my own work as California County Boards of Education President was focused on advancing objectives that supported all board members and, particularly, the work that CSBA does for all of us. The day that I, as CCBE President, testified on behalf of CSBA at the Senate Education Committee hearing on Assembly Bill 1505, a charter school reform bill, stands out to me not only as a moment of great pride personally, but also as powerful evidence of what we accomplish when we all share our views respectfully and move forward together armed with a greater shared understanding of our experience and goals.

county boards
Sutter County Superintendent of Schools brings the community together through food
Chef making a salad
The Sutter County Superintendent of Schools Tri-County Regional Occupational Program is constantly looking for new and up-to-date ways to ensure that students have access to the best facilities possible to learn their trade or skill. SCSOS ROP Culinary Programs are popular with the region’s high school students. The program provides a top-notch culinary instructor who partners with local chefs in the area to teach students the culinary arts. One challenge the program experienced was that many of the local high schools don’t have a kitchen that can be used for this program. This is where local culinary advisory board member John Nicoletti stepped in. He mentioned the food truck/trailer trend among food vendors and suggested that SCSOS invest in one of these for local high school students participating in the culinary program.
UpcomingEvents info: 800-266-3382
Register for any of these events at
Dec. 5–7 | San Diego
CSBA Annual Education Conference and Trade Show
Dec. 5–6 | San Diego
CCSA Annual Workshop and Luncheon
Jan. 9, 2020 | Santa Clara
2020 The Brown Act
Jan. 10, 2020 | Santa Clara
Institute for New and First-Term Board Members
Jan. 11, 2020 | Santa Clara
Board Presidents Workshop
Jan. 31, 2020 | Santa Clara
Institute for New and First-Term Board Members
Thanks for reading our November 2019 newsletter!