The District assures that the dual immersion program is not at risk of being ended

PASO ROBLES — The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District (PRJUSD) Board met for their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Apr. 27.  

The meeting’s general public comment was filled with high emotions and broad concerns from parents wanting their students to return to full-time in-person learning and concerns over the possibility of closing the Georgia Brown campus.

Trustee Chris Bausch stated before public comment began that there were 21 written comments and callers. Many parents and students came to the meeting in person to read their comments. 

Some younger students pleaded to return to full-time in-person learning without the requirement of facemasks. One student shed tears as she told the board the mask gives her anxiety, and she can’t breathe with it on. 

Other mothers spoke for their children with similar stories of the masks giving their children anxiety, so they remain at-home learning. Many parents said they have seen their children decline from the lack of proper socialization. 

Many of the parents who spoke said they feel helpless when it comes to difficult hybrid schedules. 

At the beginning of the meeting, Board President Chris Arend reminded callers of a real-time Spanish translator for the meeting. 

Arend’s comment seemed to be directed towards a situation that occurred during the Apr. 13 board meeting. There was some conflict that began when caller Rita Casaverde, President of the Democratic Party of San Luis Obispo County, called and spoke in both Spanish and English. There was confusion as to if the caller needed a translator, and President Arend asked the caller to speak in English if she was able to.

The caller, Casaverde, accused the board of not having a real-time translator for her. The board did clarify later they do have a certified Spanish translator who is translating the meeting in real-time. 

Yessenia Echevarria called in, speaking in Spanish. There was some confusion between the translator and Echevarria, all spoken in Spanish. 

The translator said Echevarria wanted to make sure she would get her six minutes to speak Spanish and translate it into English. 

There seemed to be confusion between the translator and Echevarria still. Through the translator, Echevarria said President Arend is abusive. The other board members, including Superintendent Curt Dubost and staff, have been silent about his actions are just as responsible for the abuse. 

Arend responded by saying, “this is idiocy,” and asked again for an item to be added to the agenda that he previously asked for. Arend requested the said item to be added again at the end of the meeting, which addresses what the board should do when a resident is speaking in another language even though they know English. 

The rest of the board members declined to add Arend’s requested item to the agenda for the next meeting.

Many residents called in concerned with the possible closure of the Georgia Brown campus. Trustee Bausch asked Dubost to clarify some misinformation that seemed to be circulating around the topic.

Dubost said, “Absolutely no decision has been made to close any school. A recommendation was made from a committee that is now being studied through a series of other studies and committees over the course of the next year–in no scenario, under no discussion, at any time, during the 7-11 process or any other discussion has there ever been even the entertainment of the possibility of ending the dual immersion program.”

Then in regards to bringing students back full time, Dubost said, “I was still under the belief, the hope, that if we could pull together that we could try and get kids back more. Try and get kids back to five days a week. I don’t think, however, that it is practical to bring kids back 100 percent in full by the end of the year. I can’t tell you how painful it is to listen to these comments and know what incredible pain some of these families are in.”

Dubost informed the board that there isn’t enough staff to keep up hybrid learning and full in-person learning by the end of this year.

The board finally reached item H.1. PROPOSED REVISION TO TRUSTEE VOTING AREAS PER CALIFORNIA VOTING RIGHTS ACT which consisted of six sub-items.

Item H1 A. discussed the possibility of reducing the number of trustees from seven to five. The description reads as follows:

“In advance of the Board’s upcoming discussions on revising trustee area boundaries to comply with the California Voting Rights Act, there has been some interest in considering a reduction in the number of trustees from seven to five. 

As a point of historical interest, the elementary and high school districts were merged in the unification election of 1996, and the resulting Paso Robles Joint Unified School District was established with a 7-member board of trustees (the maximum possible). The former elementary and high school districts each had five trustees.”

With a 6-1 vote, Trustee Bausch no; the board motioned for staff to not investigate further into this finding.

A motion was made to table resolution 21-22 “Re-Initiate a Transition to a By-Trustee Area Election System Commencing with the 2022 Governing Board Election Action. The Board previously adopted Resolution No. 19-15, which set forth the parameters to being this process in 2019. Resolution No. 21-22 reconfirms that commitment.”

The board passed resolution 19-15 in Feb. 2019 to Initiate a Transition to a By-Trustee Area Election System Commencing with the 2022 Governing Board Election. Due to COVID, the Census has been delayed until September 2021, but the District has concerns delaying the process until the census data is ready.

Trustees Bausch, Dorian Baker, and Jim Reed wanted the motion tabled to come back with more clarification from the staff. 

Board President Arend and Trustees Nathan Williams, Lance Gannon, and Tim Gearhart voted no to table the new resolution. 

A new motion was made to approve 21-22 and was adopted with a 4-3 vote, Trustees Baker, Bausch, and Reed voting no.

Within item H1, there were two public hearings, both of which had no comments from the public. 

The two public hearings were as follows: 

  1. H.1.D. Public Hearing Regarding Potential Composition of Trustee Areas Prior to Drawing of Maps, Pursuant to Elections Code Section 10010, Subdivision (a)(1) – (First Hearing)
  2. H.1.E. Public Hearing to Consider Seeking a Waiver from the State Board of Education, and Potential Adoption of a Resolution Authorizing the Superintendent to Seek the Waiver 

Questions were raised by Trustee Bausch on what methods were used to notify the public there was a hearing tonight. 

Staff informed the board they used the district website and Paso Robles Daily News (not affiliated with Paso Robles Press). Trustee Bausch said those methods “failed,” and more needs to be done to notify the public of the next hearing, which is scheduled for the May 11 meeting.

The next regular meeting is scheduled for May 11, with a closed session beginning at 5 p.m. 

Getting through this together, Paso Robles