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Castaic parents: 'We want straight answers'

Some accuse district of flip-flopping on school

Posted: May 17, 2008 1:34 a.m.
Updated: July 18, 2008 5:03 a.m.
Castaic parents want the Hart district to stop flip-flopping their high school students between Valencia and West Ranch high schools and select a school for the students to call their own until a high school is built in Castaic.

The parents voiced their concerns at a special meeting of the Castaic Area Town Council held Tuesday evening and attended by William S. Hart Union High School District Board Members Gloria Mercado-Fortine and Steve Sturgeon, Superintendent Jaime Castellanos and Chief Operations Officer Rob Gapper.

Castaic students have attended various Hart district campuses over the years, but were sent to West Ranch High School in Stevenson Ranch when it opened in 2004. As West Ranch's population increased, the district governing board voted to send Castaic students to Valencia High School for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 school years, then back to West Ranch High School for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years.

"You just tell Castaic students to move and it fixes your attendance problems, and it's very easy for you," said Castaic Area Town Council Member Renee Sabol. "You yank children away from friends they've been with for eight years, and you yank families apart when a child chooses to go to school with his friends."

Castaic students who have an older sibling at a school can attend that school, however that sometimes means they will not be attending the same school as their classmates. The Hart district sends a letter to Castaic eighth graders each year to let them know about this transfer option.

"We are still a town divided, and ultimately we'd like to end up in the same place," said Castaic resident Flo Lawrence. "I think what we're looking for as a community is to put all of our kids under the same roof."

Anita Roysdon brought her fifth grade daughter, Elizabeth, to the meeting to show the Hart district board members and administrators exactly who the current policy affects.

"My fifth grader is already wanting to know what high school she will go to," Roysdon said with her daughter standing by her side. "What do I tell my daughter?"

Castellanos responded that he did not know which high school Castaic residents would attend in fall 2011 and beyond.

"As we look at building a high school in Castaic, we will also be looking at boundaries," Castellanos said. "It's not good to bounce kids around - I agree with you on that."

Some parents asked if the current policy could be changed, so that all Castaic students would attend the same high school.

"Right now, that decision stands and the board is not looking at changing that," Mercado-Fortine said.

Miss Val Verde Tatiana Sanchez said she had a bad experience at West Ranch High School.

"I was part of the jumping around, and West Ranch is not a good place to go. We were not accepted there," Sanchez said. "We need a high school. We're tired of being bounced around."

Gabrielle Volz said her children were also unhappy at West Ranch High School.

"Our kids don't want to go there, because West Ranch has done nothing to welcome them," Volz said.

However, Lawrence said he wants Castaic students to be sent to West Ranch.

"After 2011, and the ping-ponging is over, we'd like to hear that you're going to keep us at West Ranch," he said.


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