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Community forums taking place following KHSD discrimination lawsuit settlement

KHSD press con_house

Dolores Huerta 

A coalition of community groups is hosting a meeting Friday informing the public of steps moving forward after the Kern High School District settled a major discrimination lawsuit in July.

That lawsuit alleged KHSD engaged in a years-long pattern of discriminatory disciplinary practices against black and Latino youth. The district settled for $670,000 and a series of remediation programs, including hiring expert consultants to improve school climate and address disciplinary matters.

The meeting will allow the public the opportunity to meet with those consultants who will be fully implementing Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), a system that establishes student support and a social culture conducive to academic, social and emotional health.

“They [the experts] want to get a sense of what the community is like here,” Gerald Cantu, spokesman for The Dolores Huerta Foundation, a party to the lawsuit, said. “We really want to just give them a taste of what it’s like here on ground zero and what some of the issues the community is facing here and what the culture is like.”

The meeting is being organized and directed by Building Healthy Communities, The Dolores Huerta Foundation, Faith in the Valley Kern, Equal Justice Society, the National Brotherhood Association, California Rural Legal Assistance, Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Meeting organizers will also explain to participants how to report issues at KHSD, Cantu said.

It will be at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, 615 California Ave.

The meeting comes just days before KHSD has planned a forum, mandated by the lawsuit settlement, that would provide community members with a twice annual update on school climate and student behavior.

During that meeting, KHSD is required to present reports on suspensions, involuntary transfers, voluntary transfers based on a waiver of rights, expulsions, discipline and referral data, current school climate survey results and an overview of the KHSD policies, practices and procedures related to PBIS.

“Kern High School District staff is pleased to share information with all of our stakeholders about the positive things that are happening in our schools regarding school climate, student behavior and supports, as well as sharing a report on our discipline numbers,” KHSD Assistant Superintendent Brenda Lewis said.

The forum will be held in the EOC Building at the district office, 5801 Sundale Ave., at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Harold Pierce covers education and health for The Californian. He can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter @RoldyPierce

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