School board hears boundary grievances
Parents are concerned about the rezoning of dual language programs.
The Pflugerville school board continues to hear community concerns two months after its decision to approve several boundary changes amid campus overcrowding and the opening of Weiss High School and Mott Elementary School in the fall.
About eight people — a mix of parents, staff and one elementary-aged student — spoke against the board’s decision to approve boundary changes affecting students involved in English as a second language programs that are being rezoned from Highland Park Elementary to Mott Elementary in the fall.
Many said there was delayed communication about the district’s intention to make boundary changes affecting those students and little information available about the dual-language services available at Mott Elementary.
“During the recent re-boundary, the district failed to provide transparency and equitable access to information addressing the needs of all students at Highland Park Elementary School,” said Irán Tovar, a former dual-language coordinator for the district and advocate for mothers of the students learning English as a second language.
She said that while the district held seven community sessions leading up to the boundary decisions, they did not include information about Mott as a dual-language campus.
“It was not made public until after the boundaries were approved by the board,” she said, adding many parents were made aware via a letter sent following the decision.
She said at least one parent contacted staff in November about concerns that boundary information pertaining to the Riojas Elementary Spanish Immersion Program students was made available to the public, but information for other English language learners, particularly those attending Highland Park, was missing.
Tovar said staff responded in early December by saying the impact to those students would be known after the boundary decisions had been made.
After she learned of the Jan. 19 decisions, Elizet Rodriguez said she attempted to learn more on what Mott Elementary would offer in dual-language programs. But she said there were hardly any updates until a Feb. 27 meeting where the district presented a bilingual rezoning map.
Board President Vernagene Mott told the crowd Thursday night that trustees cannot legally comment on items outside the agenda, but that the board strives to do its best with what resources it has available.
Near the conclusion of meeting, Trustee Rob Reyes asked staff to report back to the board at an upcoming meeting with information related to how bilingual and Spanish-speaking students are affected by boundary changes.
Trustee Renae Mitchell suggested staff instead provide information to the board in a more informal manner. Mott agreed with Mitchell, saying staff is busy with the annual budget this time of year.
Reyes insisted the information be shared in a transparent and public manner and ensure the district is following federal guidelines. Interim Superintendent Gary Patterson said staff has already been working on the issue, will look at data and report back to the board.