Vocal crowd addresses CUSD board; CEF makes donation

The Claremont Unified School District board held its first regular meeting of the 2017-18 school year last Thursday, and a crowd of protesters dominated proceedings.

Pasadena resident Anne Bigley led a contingent of about 30 people wearing lime green shirts with a photo of her disabled son Christopher Frealy and the words “Let him learn.”

Ms. Bigley claimed that Christopher, 10, was promised a spot in CUSD’s Sumner-Danbury Elementary School for orthopedically impaired students this academic year, but was later told he could not attend. He is currently being homeschooled.

“You can imagine how hard it was for Christopher to be told way back in February that he was going to third grade at Danbury by the principal,” Ms. Bigley told the school board, “only to find out on the last day of second grade in June that someone messed up the paperwork and he was no longer welcome there.”

Ten more supporters, some from Claremont, spoke during public comment pleading with the school board to “let Christopher learn.”

Thirty-five minutes later, the packed crowd of Christopher’s supporters exited—along with the CBS reporter interviewing Ms. Bigley—and the board continued with its agenda. The school board could not comment on the protester demands because they were not on the agenda, according to the Brown Act.

A full story on this is published below.

District students recognized

Two high school student board members—Emily Marks of Claremont High and Emmanuel Martinez of San Antonio High School—were sworn in, and took their seats at the front of the room next to the school board members.

Claremont High students Carlos Aceytuno-Lopez and Milton Hwang were recognized by Superintendent Jim Elsasser for designing art on the outside of the school’s nutritional services vehicles.

“If you see the vehicles out and about around Claremont, you’ll see them wrapped in beautiful and appropriate artwork,” Mr. Elsasser said.

Recent CUSD graduate Bryan Brown, now a freshman at University of California, Santa Barbara, was honored for receiving one of four $2,500 Frederick M. Roberts California Legislative Black Caucus scholarships.

New special education analyst hired

The board unanimously approved the hiring of Cheri Vandermey as a board certified behavior analyst after she “emerged as the highest-qualified candidate” over 17 other applicants, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Kevin Ward said.

Ms. Vandermey spent four years as a behavior analyst at the LeRoy Haynes Center in La Verne, which serves children with autism, learning disabilities and other special needs. Prior to that, she spent three years working in special education for the Long Beach Unified School District, and is an adjunct professor at California State University, Los Angeles.

“She has exceptional references and will be an outstanding addition to the CUSD special education team in support of our students with behavior needs,” Mr. Ward said.


Board president David Nemer noted that there are now 52 courses offered through the Regional Occupational Program (ROP)—which provide practical, career-oriented skills—like game design, stage design, video production and retail marketing that also count toward University of California admissions requirements.

“The old dichotomy between ROP classes and a pathway to college is now less of an either/or kind of decision,” Mr. Nemer said. “It’s possible to take these ROP classes and still have that be part of the pathway to a UC enrollment. So it just keeps improving.”


The board unanimously approved submitting the unaudited financial actuals report from last fiscal year to Los Angeles County. It also approved a waiver to the state to get reimbursed for the costs of 2015-16 state testing, after the district missed an earlier deadline to apply for reimbursement.


Continuing an annual tradition, Claremont Educational Foundation President Nicole Oullette announced a $126,000 donation to fund CUSD art, music and technology programs, generating a round of applause from the audience and expressions of gratitude from each board member.

“CEF continues to be a great asset to our community, a great asset to our school district,” Mr. Nemer said.

The next meeting of the CUSD School Board is scheduled for Thursday, October 5 at 6:30 p.m., with public session beginning at 7 p.m.

—Kellen Browning


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