LANCASTER — Antelope Valley Union High School District’s new Board majority of President Robert “Bob” Davis, Vice President Victoria Ruffin, and Clerk Amanda Parrell approved a $75,000 consulting contract Thursday night with child behavior specialist Kathleen Van Antwerp, an associate of Davis who made two presentations before the Board last year.
Board members Jill McGrady and John Rush voted no.
The district will pay up to $75,000 to implement Valencia-based Full Circle Consulting Systems Inc.’s S.T.O.P. educational model over the next four months.
S.T.O.P. stands for students, teachers, officers and parents.
Van Antwerp described the program during a presentation at the Board’s Dec. 12 meeting as “a holistic educational model based on the science of child and adolescent development” that “focuses on the social-emotional well-being of the children within your district as well as the teachers, officers and parents.”
Van Antwerp previously addressed the Board at Davis’ invitation last February. Davis also invited Ruffin, who was elected to the Board on Nov. 6, to make a presentation at the same meeting.
Full Circle Consulting’s will begin in February and continue through June with a focus on the district’s alternative school sites Phoenix, R. Rex Parris, and Desert Winds high schools. The last day of school is June 7.
Shandelyn Williams, the district’s assistant superintendent of Student Services, described the program briefly at Thursday’s meeting.
Williams and Student Services staff met with Van Antwerp and Full Circle founder Senta Greene about the proposal during the district’s winter break.
One of the questions that came up during a discussion with the school site principals was implementation of the program in the remaining four months of the school year.
“As part of those further conversations we became aware that one of the schools will have mid-cycle WASC (accreditation) and so we will need to determine how bringing in a new program at this point in time of the year may also impact that process,” Williams said.
Williams said they would like to review the impact reports in more detail. In addition, she said they also need clarification of certain aspects of the program in a school setting.
“There were discussions regarding positive aspects of the program. However there is time needed to vet how it aligns with the schools’ current focus areas. In addition to that there are a number of questions with the fee schedule that was presented as well that we need to clarify,” Williams said.
Davis asked Williams to explain what the program would provide.
“It basically would provide training for our students, teachers, resource officers, campus supervisors, and also for parents,” Williams said.
Davis pressed Williams.
“What do they bring to our district? Can you just tell me that they’re all about socio-emotional needs, that’s what her background is,” Davis said.
Davis referenced a presentation on the district’s various systems of support that Matthew Case, Director III Behavior Interventions gave earlier the meeting.
“I believe that this program would benefit what we’re doing in this district,” Davis said.
Davis, who worked for the California Department of Corrections, said his background is in safety and socio-emotional needs of students.
Davis then accused Williams of bias in vetting the S.T.O.P. program as compared to the Parent Institute for Quality Education, a program previously in place at Knight High School that Davis, Ruffin and Parrell rejected to renew at the same meeting.
“I would have liked to have the person asking for the $75,000 here to answer a couple of questions as well,” Rush said. “And so I’ll ask anybody who knows about it — has she ever taught this to students on a campus. Has this program ever been on a school campus or are we a pilot program?”
Ruffin said Van Antwerp’s Dec. 12 presentation was thorough, and said she has extensive experience with Los Angeles Unified School District and Ventura County.
The Full Circle Consulting website indicates the firm’s programs have been implemented in school districts and county offices of education but does not offer any specific examples nor does it include any information about the S.T.O.P. program.
“The impact packet that she gave us last time talked about a workshop from a Thursday to a Tuesday with 220 students at one time,” McGrady said. “It’s a totally different program than going into a high school once a week like she’s talking about. I want to know how many high schools she’s trained and what high schools is she currently working with? How many high school clients does she have?”
Ruffin said those questions should be have asked when Van Antwerp was at the Dec. 12 meeting.
“We have a duplication of services,” Rush began. “I think that the services that we provide include the services that she provides and it overlaps the services. I think we can be better off spending the $75,000.”
“Can you elaborate?” Ruffin interrupted him.
“No, I can’t,” he said.
McGrady noted the $75,000 is for three months of training and one month of collecting data.
“In the contract it says five months of work for the $75,000. I would ask her if she was here, ‘How could we fix that?’ ” she said.
McGrady also asked about the education background of the trainers.
According to the contract after training sessions begin Van Antwerp and Greene will meet with administrators via conference calls, or face-to-face.
“Then I would also ask, ‘Why now?’ ” McGrady said. “We’re at the middle of the year; we already have programs going on. Our professional development calendar is already approved and in place. This is an additional thing.”
She also asked about the potential impact on the district’s staff.
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