School board quietly rejects petition for charter school

In recent weeks, while the school board deliberated over the controversial firing and re-hiring of former Sumner Elementary School Principal Frank D’Emilio, verbal fireworks and big crowds were common at meetings.

Other headline-warranting events, like the hiring of a new superintendent and the awarding of the Teacher and Classified Staff Member of the Year awards, have added to the excitement. But with Mr. D’Emilio reinstated as a classroom teacher and Jim Elsasser sworn in as district head, things are slowing down.

The last meeting of the Claremont Unified School District Board of Education before school lets out was held on Thursday, June 7. Attendance was sparse and the agenda was pretty quiet, dominated largely by school-site updates and intra-district kudos. 

The exception to this rule was the board’s rejection of a petition for a new charter school. The author of that petition, Lynette Lucas, took a moment to address the board’s actions regarding the proposed Embracing the Whole Child Arts and Technology Academy.

Ms. Lucas said she does not censure the board for its rejection of the petition, but expressed her frustration at the board’s unresponsiveness when she has reached out with meeting requests and at its communication in general. 

Ms. Lucas, who says she will petition for the school again, asked in the future she be treated with “common courtesy.”

Other items on the agenda included a report on the groundbreaking ceremony held at Claremont High School on Wednesday, June 6and a report by San Antonio High School Principal Steven Boyd regarding the continuation school’s progress towards its Single Plan for Student Achievement.

The board also took a moment to bid a fond adieu to outgoing student board members Jake Wu and TeVin Woods. While TeVin was unable to attend the meeting, Jake was there to receive a certificate of appreciation from the board and to share that he heads to UC Berkely this fall.

“You have to put in a lot of time and a lot of effort, so we really appreciate it,” Mr. Stark said.  

Those looking for summer reading material will be interested to hear that the Friends of the Claremont Library’s “On the Same Page Reading Program”—which encourages community members and students to focus on one book throughout the year—has announced its choice for 2012-2013.

The book selected was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010), which tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor Southern tobacco farmer whose cells were harvested without her consent. In the ensuing years and even today, her cells, the first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, have been used for a vast array of groundbreaking research.

The book seeks to explore some of the ethical questions posed by the use of Ms. Lacks cells’ and to put a face and a life to the genetic material that has played such a huge role in history.

During the year, community members will be encouraged to attend a number of discussions of the book and of the various implications of the story. The Friends of the Claremont Library are presenting 40 copies of the book to Claremont High School. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks will be used in conjunction with the curriculum across the International Baccalaureate Program, from language arts classes to science to P.E.

School board members like Hilary LaConte and Sam Mowbray and CUSD board president Jeff Stark noted they had read the book and found it fascinating.

“Am I the only one who hasn’t read this book?” joked school board member Steven Llanusa.

—Sarah Torribio


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