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    Conejo Valley School Board hears about 12th grade grad options, grading and distance learning

    By Michael Hernandez 

    THOUSAND OAKS—“My main focus has been working with our 12th graders regarding senior graduation,” said Conejo Valley Unified School District Supt. Mark McLaughlin.  “I have had 500 responses concerning graduation as of April 15th.  The ideas include:

    • Postpone the date (most popular);
    • Virtual graduation: Video or live stream;
    • Car Parade Drive;
    • Senior Week (Designate week to celebrate graduates); and
    • Lawn signs, decals and other ideas to celebrate graduates.

    “Into you have a date, we can practice for a virtual graduation so that we are prepared to participate in a graduation for seniors.”

    Meanwhile, CVUSD seniors were given the opportunity pick-up senior lawn signs and senior decals with site banners given to campuses.

    Board members heard discussion for a future decision on grading options (to be decided at the May 5th school board meeting) for all district students (while schools are closed)—

    which could be given in one of the following ways:

    • pass, no pass;
    • credit, or not credit;
    • no harm academic grading (can only go up; but not down); and
    • regular academic grading (A-F, or A-D, or A-C).

    “We need to take needs of all student including:  special education, homeless, foster youth and different access to digital learning and other tools and materials,” said Supt. Mark McLaughlin.

    “We have made an investment in good grades important in this district,” said Board Member Betsy Connolly.  “I want to honor that and not pivot to a pass-fail for our students, especially for those students that have done exactly what we asked them to do—pushing themselves to do their best.   We have taught student to use grades as a motivator and have developed a comprehensive grading policy.  We have taught parents to respect grades as an assessment of child competence.”

    “We could take a hybrid approach to grades with a pass or no pass and an opt in to continuing getting grades,” said Board Vice President Jenny Fitzgerald  “We have to keep in mind those homes where there is not adult present with both parents working; those students who ae doing childcare for younger siblings; homes where parents have lost a job, or there is serious financial trouble; or even ill family members in the house.”

    “We could do a hybrid approach with a pass, no pass or a letter grade with the option to see the grade before you decide,” said Board Member Sandee Everett.

    “We shouldn’t have one policy for all students,” said Student Board Trustee Jordan Scott.

    “Giving students a letter grade is an unnecessary burden to students,” said Parent Casey Corbett.  “We should hold students harmless to protect their future plans.  Any grade at home is more representative of the family situation and access to technology and to privilege. Why not say student grades can go up (since March 15 closure of schools) but cannot go down so as not to jeopardize or risk college acceptance.”

    Distance Learning Report:

    “Of the 18,465 district students, we have had some form of engagement with 18,224 students,” said Supt. Dr. Mark McLaughlin. “We are working to support those other 241 students.”

    “We have been able to connect with a majority of the parents of those 241 students,”  said Assistant Supt., Student Services Dr. Lisa Miller.   “Multiple people are reaching out to engage with these students and families.” 

    “We gave out 4,000 Chrome Books during the first few weeks (after closing),” said Deputy Superintendent, Business Services Dr. Victor Hayek. “We only have between 7-10 families that still need devices.  We have a call center for students and parents for technical support and we have three technology specialists receiving calls each day as well as an email help desk. We will exchange any device that malfunctions.”

    “We have provided distance learning training to our staff and faculty in Google Classroom and Zoom,” said Assistant Supt of Instruction, Mr. Luis Lichtl. “Now we are moving to provide training for parents so they may helping their students with the technology and access.”

    CVUSD rolls-out Social-Emotional and Mental Health Needs web resource page

    “We have Parent/Guardian Resources, Grade Span Specific Resources and Community Mental Health Resources in our new Social-Emotional and Mental Health Needs web resource page,” said Dr. Lisa Miller who showed that the web page could be found in the CVUSD website under Student Services (Social-Emotional/Mental Health).  “You can find:  Parent/Guardian Resources, Grade Span Specific Resources (Elementary, Middle School and High School), and Community Mental Health Resources.”

    The CVUSD Mental Health Support Line Phone Number is:  (805) 494-9367 which operates from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Monday-Friday) for English and Spanish callers. This is not a crisis line.  Mental Health Crisis and Emergency Hotlines are listed on the web page.

    Other board member comments:

    Sandee Everette:  “We want seniors to know how much we support them and how proud of them we are.”

    Cindy Goldberg:  “I want to thank the Thousand Oaks sign fairies. Great job everybody.”

    Jenny Fitzgerald:  “Thank you parents for showing pictures of your seniors (on social media).”

    Betsy Connolly:  “Thank you to the non-profits and the faith-based organizations that stepped up to help families under difficult circumstances.”

    Bill Gorback:  “I want to congratulate teachers for the hard work you have done especially for our 5th,8th and 12th graders.”

    In other School Board action:

    –Approved National Teacher Appreciation Week on May 4-8th.


    Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].

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    William Hicks
    William Hicks
    2 years ago

    I had a “virtual annual physical,” and it met all the criteria my doctor required, but the hands on portion was non-existent . It was incomplete.

    Maybe the essential part of graduation is the diploma that can be mailed to the student at their parents address. Then, sometime when the CCP virus is history, and the compulsory house arrest is behind us, there could be a Graduation Ceremony for those who desire one.

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