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Board reverses school year decision

The decision comes after Feb. 12 meeting in which parents asked school district officials to reconsider their move to change the upcoming school calendar year.

March 07, 2013|By Bryce Alderton

Laguna Beach Unified School District students will once again begin school Sept. 3 — not Aug. 29.

The district's school board voted 4-0, with Jan Vickers absent, Tuesday night at a special meeting to rescind its decision to begin the 2013-14 school year before Labor Day.

Tuesday night's meeting was packed, with standing room only inside the school district's offices. Parents made passionate pleas to reverse the earlier decision and applause filled the room following the board's vote.

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"I feel justified in efforts to collect data to prove [district officials] wrong," said Sheri Morgan, who has four children in Laguna Beach schools.

She spoke during the public comment period, citing truancy rates she received from the district for the day before a holiday — an attempt to refute one of the reasons used to explain the earlier school date by Supt. Sherine Smith in a letter.

Smith told parents gathered at Tuesday's special meeting that district staff received a lot of feedback from parents, teachers, school PTAs and SchoolPower, a fundraising organization, on the calendar change and that Tuesday's meeting was another opportunity to receive input on the issue.

Public comments took up at least 40 minutes of the 1 1/2-hour meeting. One parent said the "district failed them, but I embrace the fact you had the courage to invite us back. This is how democracy works."

Another parent said that if the earlier start date had remained, children from other cities would have fun in Laguna during the Labor Day weekend, rather than Laguna residents' children.

School board president Bill Landsiedel threatened to stop the meeting twice if attendees hollered or applauded too loud.

"This issue has blown out of proportion," Landsiedel told the crowd. "It's two days." He referenced other districts taking furlough days or facing state takeover. "We always must keep perspective that we live in Laguna Beach."

Landsiedel's comments riled parents even more.

"Comments like these show [board members] are arrogant and out of touch," parent Rick Putnam said. "You have a lot of work to do."

The board voted for the school year change at its Jan. 22 meeting.

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