LANCASTER — Knight High School’s Parent Institute for Quality Education will not return for a third year, after Antelope Valley Union High School District Board President Robert “Bob” Davis, Vice President Jill McGrady, and Clerk Amanda Parrell voted against it last week.
Trustee Jill McGrady and trustee John Rush voted in favor of the program.
The program was supposed to begin Jan. 10. The PIQE agreement was on the Board’s Dec. 12 agenda. But Davis, Ruffin, and Parrell voted to table the item, ostensibly to wait for more data.
The nonprofit Parent Institute for Quality Education, or PIQE, seeks to enhance educational achievement and reduce the dropout rate of minority children by building strong parental involvement in their children’s education process at home and by forging a workshop partnership with the school, according to a staff report.
PIQE offers a nine-week course to parents of low-income, ethnically diverse backgrounds of elementary, middle, and high school-age children. The high school curriculum includes understanding the high school system; identifying the classes that form part of the A-G requirements; recognizing the importance of the grade-point average; discussing higher education options; preparing students for higher education; benefits of attending colleges; exploring career options; and development of emotional intelligence.
The agreement with PIQE was on Thursday’s agenda with attached data, and a parent testimonial.
PIQE first started in October of 1987 in the San Diego Unified School District. The program is now offered in 550 of the 977 school districts in the state.
The implementation of the program at Knight High was for up to 75 parents in Level I in Spanish and English and Level II Spanish. The cost includes a $9,000 flat fee that would be paid from targeted funds, which means they are restricted in how they can be used. In addition, there is a $120 fee accrued for each parent graduate (those who attended four or more classes during the nine-week course) exceeding the 75 parent maximum for a total not-to-exceed $10,800. The total cost of the program was not-to-exceed $19,800.
“This is a program that was successful, it is successful to Knight High School,” McGrady said.
McGrady added the program was in place for two years and school administrators asked that it continue for a third year.
“It is a program that is not exclusive to one group of people; it’s open to all parents. If we have more than 75 we can open it to more,” McGrady said.
In addition, McGrady said each school site is allowed to bring forward programs that they are interested in and that could work for their particular site.
“This is what Knight has brought to us that they would like to have.” McGrady said. “Mr. Davis, I believe you voted yes the last two years on it.”
“I would have to look back at the records to verify that,” Davis said.
McGrady said she did so but did not have the information available at Thursday’s meeting.
Board records show that Davis voted twice in favor of the Parent Institute for Quality Education: on Sept. 7, 2016, and on Oct. 18, 2017. Both items were on the Board’s consent agenda under Educational Services.
The program was first implemented at Knight High in 2016 from August to December, and again in 2017 from September to December.
Ruffin, whose trustee area includes Knight High, said the Parent Institute for Quality Education does not offer anything beyond what the district’s counselors already do. She noted the district invested more than $10 million in 64 counselors.
“It’s all throughout our (Local Control and Accountability Plan) how we vetted for the increase and the monies to be allocated to our counselors,” Ruffin said. “We’ve done an excellent job of that. This program does not show any difference or a need of what we already allocated for, and this program is specific for 35 to 75 EL (English Language) parents that we are already paying for. This is a duplication of funds.”
Ruffin added the data provided to the Board as part of the agenda looked contrived.
“I’m not buying it, so it’s not a program that’s benefiting all of our kids and it’s not a program that’s across all schools within our district,” Ruffin said.
Davis asked Assistant Superintendent Shandelyn Williams whether the Parent Institute for Quality Education has mandated reporting.
A mandated reporter is someone who, because of their profession, such as a teacher, is legally required to report any suspicion of child abuse or neglect to the relevant authorities.
“Who vetted this program?” Davis said.
‘The program was requested by the school site, Greg Nehen, assistant superintendent of Educational Services said.
“The site vetted it without a mandated reporting inclusion on the contract, that concerns me,” Davis said.
Mandated reporting depends on the level of service and individuals who work directly with students, Williams said.
“Do you know that there’s outside individuals coming in to our school to work with these students?” Davis said.
Nehen explained there will be two to three support providers who work primarily with parents, but also with students.
Davis asked whether the support providers have been fingerprinted and passed a background check.
Nehen said he does not believe they have been cleared as volunteers, but noted they are working under supervision.
“I don’t know how we can let anyone at our schools without being fingerprinted around our students. That concerns me,” Davis said.
Student trustee Noah Sveiven said his high school has visits from Army recruiters and many others folks including pastors and political activists visiting different clubs.
“Those folks aren’t cleared to be volunteers but they’re cleared to be on campus because there’s an adult in the room who’s legit,” Sveiven said.
Davis countered any adult who is around students should be fingerprinted.
To share your opinion on this article or any other article, write a letter to the editor and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to Letters to Editor, PO Box 4050, Palmdale CA 93590-4050.