LANCASTER — Antelope Valley Union High School District’s Board of Education failed to approve an alternative sentencing program that would provide individuals convicted of low-level crimes the opportunity to seek education instead of incarceration.
Board Clerk Jill McGrady and trustee John Rush voted in favor of a Memorandum of Understanding for the program. Member Amanda Parrell voted against it. Member Victoria Ruffin failed to show up for Thursday’s meeting.
The memorandum needs at least three votes to pass. The Board is short one member after the Nov. 4 resignation of former member Robert “Bob” Davis.
AV Union High School District, Antelope Valley College and the City of Lancaster have been working in coordination with Los Angeles County Superior Court for about one year to develop and implement the educational program.
“This is specifically adult education,” AV Adult Education Regional Director Steve Radford said.
The program would allow a judge to sentence someone age 18 and older who has committed a low-level crime and who does not have a high school diploma or GED to spend time in a classroom working toward a GED instead of community service. Anyone who already has a high school diploma or GED would go to college instead.
Radford said the program is intended to help individuals benefit the community after they complete the educational portion rather than do 50 or 100 hours of community service such as picking up trash and be in the same spot they were in when they started.
The memorandum would allow the City to pay for an employee to follow program participants from the courthouse to AV College or the Adult Education program and back to the courthouse.
Parrell brought up an unrelated survey available to high school students.
“If we can collect the data on these kids once they are incarcerated, then why not get their voice and why not collect the data on how AV policing survey before the school to prison pipeline starts instead of after?” Parrell said.
The AV Union High School District Board voted 2-2 at the Jan. 16 meeting to approve it, with members Ruffin and Parrell dissenting.
The memorandum was on the AV Union High School District Board’s Jan. 23 and 30 agendas. But the Board could not hold a meeting either day because Ruffin and Parrell failed to show up for those meetings.
Parrell requested the memorandum be tabled to have more information. The Board voted 1-2 to table it, with McGrady and Rush dissenting.
Parrell will likely get her way anyway. The Board is expected to bring the memorandum back at the Feb. 27 meeting for approval.
“If we don’t approve the program people will be sentenced to community service to pick up trash, rather than to get into a program immediately where they can start working towards their GED,” Rush asked.
“That would be correct,” Radford said.
AV College trustees approved a Memorandum of Understanding for the program Monday night. The City of Lancaster also approved it.