The Fresno Unified School Board held a special meeting to discuss a number of issues. Superintendent Michael Hanson addressed the district’s achievements this year. He said, “We have a number of things to be thankful for coming out of the Graduation Task Force. That was a significant body of work with a lot of people in the room that set a different table for how we talk about youth in our city.”
Hanson said test scores and graduation rates are up. More than four million dollars will be going into middle schools. The district's adding $1 million worth of music equipment to its music and arts program, and $7 million will be spent on expanding preschool options for kids.
“We were able to, when at the last minute the state said you're going to have to start charging parents for state preschool, it just didn't make sense at all, so we found a way to fund that so our parents can worry about being parents,” said Hanson.
Impressive accomplishments, among others, but some parents were not hearing it. The hot topic of the night was a new lawsuit against the district. The Fresno Bee reports a San Francisco attorney says the district should have done more to protect a ten-year old girl who was abducted back in September. The child was on her way to school when she was kidnapped, assaulted and abandoned in a field outside of Kerman. The attorney says the district failed to notify the legal guardians of her absence from school in a timely fashion.
Parent, Anthony Taylor expressed, “Why should children be beaten and raped on the way home? You know it's a problem, fix it. If you can't fix it you need to leave. Let someone else try to get their job done.”
Hanson said they are doing the best they can, “We will take up the attendance issues, we've already been doing some staff working on it. We will be in the public around attendance issues. Transporting every student to school for example without a bus distance, for example, is not anything we've considered or would be able to actually do.”
District officials say their automated phone system makes three attempts to call parents when students are absent. They say the district is constantly reviewing all systems for improvement.
Kalvin Cardenas is accused of abducting the 10-year old girl. He's scheduled to appear in court, January 17th.