Fullerton Joint Union High School District (FJUHSD) Board meeting celebrated district wide visual arts honors hosted by Fullerton Union High School (FUHS) Principal Laura Rubio and Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) Maggie Crail. They honored students from all school sites for painting, drawing, photography, and illustration. Sonora High School (SOHS) Principal Marvin Atkins highlighted athletic achievements of FUHS boys basketball and wrestling, La Habra High School (LHHS) co-ed cheer, and Sunny Hills High School (SHHS) boys soccer and girls wrestling. The art and sports celebrations will be detailed in the upcoming newsletter, www.fjuhsd.org.
Asst. Superintendent of Human Resources Dr. Ed Atkinson presented Craig Weinreich for Board approval as the next SHHS Principal, which happened during the consent calendar. Brian Cuevas was officially installed as an Assistant Principal for both LHHS and SHHS while still serving as student support at La Vista/La Sierra (LV/LSHS). Ted Walstrom replaces retiring Director of Facilities and Construction Todd Butcher. Walstrom previously directed Facilities at East Whittier City School District.
With seven weeks left before graduation, both Student Board Member (SBM) Grace Lee and Superintendent Dr. Steve McLaughlin pointed out that graduating 12th graders and the admin istration feel pressure to accomplish a lot before that deadline. The Assistance League of Fullerton now provides hygiene products at all school sites for students in need. Students need to contact their counselor for additional information.
Ethnic Studies Course Update
Asst. Superintendent of Education Dr. Sylvia Kaufman and TOSA Sharon Hollon reported the Ethnic Studies course progress required for the graduating class of 2029/30. Holland reminded the Board that ethnic studies, “help(s) students better understand the world around us.” The FJUHSD class covers five ethnic groups including a student preferential final project. Formalized units cover Latin Americans, Native Americans, African Americans and Asian and Pacific Islander Americans focusing on cultures exploring celebration, sensitivity, awareness, understanding, and unity. The course uses open resourced materials reviewed by a standing teacher committee meeting with ongoing student feedback determining curriculum and reliable resource material. Five school campuses will offer the course this fall, but Dr. Kaufman said interested students can contact their counselor for options to fit ethnic studies into their schedule including co-enrollment at Fullerton College.
The trustees did not address Critical Race Theory (CRT) and it was only mentioned when a slide differentiating Ethnic Studies from the academically accepted definition of CRT (a graduate level legal course never taught in high school). Trustees appreciated Dr. Kaufman’s teamwork and stakeholder inclusion. Student Board Member Grace Lee thanked the teacher committee for openly embracing multiple teaching methods to present this material creating effective student learning. Trustee Marilyn Buchi wanted clarification that all course resources receive prior administrative approval. President Lauren Klatzker questioned the evaluation process making sure that fully qualified teachers provide course instruction. Trustee Chester Jeng asked how the FJUHSD course compares to college offerings, and Ms. Holland replied that the college courses focus on a single ethnicity, where this course will cover four set ethnicities and a final project using the 5 focus areas to cover a student-chosen ethnicity.
Dress Code Updates
The Board approved the updated (Board Policy) BP 5650 last updated in 1978. The dress code removes gendered language, supports a safe school environment, and approves the updated (Administrative Regulation) AR 5650 last updated in 1990. Provided for information only, Board members can only ensure AR 5650 does not contradict their policy. The Student Advisory Council (SAC) and principals worked on updating AR 5650 since August 2021 creating a cohesive policy providing consistency currently lacking throughout the district campuses. The previous policy’s focus on disciplinary measures led to ambiguity and wide variation districtwide. I talked with SBM and SAC President Grace Lee about the specificity of the new dress code and she said that the stakeholder committee needed to establish a safe and academic professional atmosphere on school campuses. The dress code issue flared up as students returned from distance learning environments and became aware of existing dress code disparities at different campuses.
Lee, a graduating Buena Park High School (BPHS) senior heading to Sanford University in the fall, emphasized that the students worked closely with their advisor, Dr. Karl Zener, to use specific and appropriate language to create a “healthy compromise that works for students and administrators” at all campuses. The goal was to create an easily relatable and timely document that “fit with current fashion culture while preserving the professional learning atmosphere” that students need to safely participate in various educational activities. The new policy focuses on inclusion and nondiscrimination for gender, religion, or sexual orientation. Safety is emphasized in various situations from woodworking and science classes to dance and theater. Language carves out teacher and principal approved exceptions and body area coverage is nongendered and expressly identified. The professional atmosphere prohibits pornographic, obscene, and violent speech or images and emphasized that clothing should not disrupt the learning process of others. The students tackled issues that many adults hesitate to address including religious attire, contagious disease, and hygiene issues. The difference between the prior adult-written dress code versus the precision and clarity with which students created their own dress code with administrative approval, shows how students value inclusion, acceptance, and support for each other to find their place in the school setting versus hem lines, spiked collars, and disciplinary measures.
Todd Butcher made his final bond project update emphasizing the seismic retrofitting of the Fullerton Auditorium. The Auditorium offers wheelchair access to the lobby, bathrooms, main seating area, and backstage access through a system of ramps and elevators. The entire building and clocktower have been regirded with cement and ½” thick steel plates along the walls and columns, and the inside artwork and the famous Kassler Mural along the outside west wall of the theater (now included in the historical identification of the theater) was carefully preserved and restored by the Fullerton Heritage Group. To see all the bond project updates online https://www.fjuhsd.org/Page/1034.
The next FJUHSD Board meeting will be held at 6 pm on May 10 at 6pm. Board information available by calling (714) 870-2800 or visiting www.fjuhsd.net.
This was a great update and I loved hearing how student input led to more specific and relevant dress codes with shared purposes, that students and adults can support!