School board hears bound­ary griev­ances

Par­ents are con­cerned about the re­zon­ing of dual lan­guage pro­grams.

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By Chris­tine Bo­laños Pflugerville Pflag con­tribut­ing writer

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.

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