Parents List LBUSD Concerns
(We apologize that this story did not include a response from LBUSD when first posted. That error has been corrected)
By Dianne Anderson
Parents and local advocates were prepared to give input at a recent LBUSD board meeting regarding the Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan, specifically about why Black students are not mentioned in the plan.
Kim Tabari, a Long Beach Black Lives Matter member, said they wanted to bring up concerns, but their Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) work group is feeling a lot less welcome lately.
“When we asked to present at the board meeting, we were told there wasn’t any room on the agenda,” said Tabari, who also sits on the superintendent’s advisory committee as a BLM member.
As a workaround, she said parents and advocates streamed their concerns live on YouTube, and the public comment drew good parent participation.
“And that’s what we’ve resorted to,” she said. “We’ve been pretty responsive to make sure we have parents signed up to send in letters or public comment or show up.”
Tabari joined the LCAP work group as a BLM member to better understand the extent of the negative education impact facing local Black students.
The district’s Learning Continuity Plan (LCP) covers a distance learning model with three main components including academic support, social-emotional learning, student engagement and motivation. The goal is to develop actions around the plan, and support students and engagement if they are not signing in, or not in attendance.
But Tabari said the LCP falls short.
The Student Attendance Review Board needs more flexibility and resources to supervise students in an independent model, such as calling them by phone, and getting one on one help for those that need it, she added. Right now, students must go before a review committee if they miss a certain amount of days. She said that it is very punitive and not helpful.
The district has 70,000 students.
“What is the plan for reaching those students that aren’t checking in? The district admitted that about 10% of students don’t have WiFi or haven’t logged on. That 10% might seem small, but that’s 7,000 kids,” she said.
LCAP’s main frustration is that they submitted recommendations in writing, at meetings and with public comments. She said the experience overall is disappointing and lacks transparency, and they have to fight for public comment participation.
“It’s like they don’t want to hear from parents,” she said. “We don’t know who’s on committees. It’s frustrating.”
Other parent concerns are that the district exceeds the state mandate for online instruction time. Students are exhausted putting in the extra hours, and parents want to know the plan for the district to adopt a distance learning model.
Under California guidelines, the minimum online time for kindergartners on Zoom is three hours. For grades 1-12, it’s about four hours.
“I know kindergartners that are on Zoom for six hours. They’re falling asleep at their computers,” she said.
She and local parent advocate Jerlene Tatum work within the larger LCAP group to help spur the district more toward parent engagement. The group has met with different district members and individual board members to try to build relationships.
The other problem is that the LCP has no plan to help Black students.
“We want to know what specific plan addresses learning loss and student inequities for Black students? The “LCP” mentions English learning students, foster youth, students experiencing homelessness, migrant students. There’s nothing about Black students,” she said.
LBUSD spokesperson Chris Eftychiou said the district’s extensive LCAP engagement complies with state law, and that the parent LCAP group requested to add an item to an already full workshop agenda. He said parents instead opted to provide their input as public testimony.
Regarding the Student Attendance Review Board, Eftychiou emphasized the board has been designated as a statewide model, championed by former State Superintendent of Public Education Tom Torlakson and current State Superintendent Thurmond, who described it as exemplary, worthy of replication.
The district’s regular student day schedule includes a mix of instruction, with students working as individuals or small groups with access to the teacher. There is also a general expectation of about 2.5 hours of direct instruction for earlier grades, and about four hours of direct instruction at the high school level, he added.
“We also offer a wide range of social-emotional support via instruction and other means,” said Eftychiou in an email response. “Support may include activities to build relationships and community, mindfulness and movement breaks. From the start of the pandemic last spring, school district leaders, teachers and counselors have been reaching out to families, including via video, email and other means, to help maintain connections and provide advice on coping.”
Other LCAP working group recommendations for LCP is that all students have access to a device and connectivity during distance learning. A recent complaint letter states the LCP section on pupil participation and progress was left blank.
“We recommend that pupil participation be measured flexibly when parents deem the amount of screen time is ineffective for a student and that alternate arrangements be made to satisfy participation requirements,” the letter states.
The letter of recommendations is signed by parent advocate Jerlene Tatum, Tabari, and includes signers from Public Advocates, Inc., Children’s Defense Fund California, Long Beach Forward, among several others.
The LCAP work group has been developing budget recommendations since February. They work around education issues related to the pandemic and address the need to dismantle institutional racism.
Tatum argues that the state requires specific education movement during the pandemic. She said as a parent, she sees many concerns are not being addressed.
Her big concern is the extent of learning loss, even as Black and Brown kids were already dealing with academic challenges pre-COVID.
“The pandemic is only making it worse. How are we going to deal with learning loss that is not monitored and measured, especially for underserved communities? That’s the request we’ve been making.”
She has been with the LCAP work group and other concerned parents and community at the table with the district, monitoring policies and decisions.
The meetings typically pull a good group of parents participating in the LCAP work group process, an effort that came out of a settlement agreement that the district was required to follow through on because they had misspent funds for their high needs students.
Tatum said since they couldn’t attend the school board meeting, their independent parent YouTube meeting had hundreds of views and covered a lot of ground in under 30 minutes. She said those in top decision-making positions should know that the parents are watching and concerned.
“They’re only working with us because of the settlement that they agreed to, that’s been one of the issues. We’ve been one of the only groups delivering content to the community, and we’re not even listed anywhere within the district as a formal group,” she said.
For more information on resources, see
For more information on online time requirements, see https://www.cde.ca.gov/fg/aa/pa/instructionaltimetable.asp