New state law makes room for parent complaint in schools

Posted signs will address facilities, class materials
Gilroy – Parents throughout the state soon will be able to issue formal complaints if they think their children’s schools are shabby or their textbooks aren’t up to par. But the state will pay attention to complaints from only three elementary schools in the Gilroy Unified School District – Eliot, Glen View and Las Animas.

Beginning next school year, every teacher statewide will be required to post a sign in their classrooms informing parents of the availability of a uniform complaint procedure that addresses the quality of instructional materials and the safety of school facilities.

However, complaints only in schools that ranked very poorly in 2003 standardized test scores will receive attention from the state. In GUSD, Eliot, Glen View and Las Animas fall under that category.

The ranking is based on a decile system, with schools in the first decile performing the worst on the Academic Performance Index test and schools in the tenth decile performing the best. The settlement aims to reform schools only in deciles one, two and three, but allocates funding just for schools in deciles one and two.

The three schools all fall under decile three, so theoretically, the district is required to abide by the settlement’s regulations but will not receive state funding. That discrepancy is one of many yet to be made clearer as the full details of the settlement shake out, said Jacki Horejs, the district’s assistant superintendent of educational services.

“We’re still waiting for the exact definition of what this settlement really means,” he said.

Steve Brinkman, the district’s assistant superintendent of administrative services, said that for the most part, schools in GUSD are in good condition. The only question mark is Las Animas, which is slated to close in the next few years.

“And even by many inner-city standards, (Las Animas) is probably pretty darn good,” Brinkman said.

The state has delegated most of the responsibilities of enforcing the settlement to county offices of education. GUSD will be required to give the Santa Clara County Office of Education a quarterly summary of complaints.

Additionally, staff from the county office of education will make a minimum of one visit each year to Eliot, Glen View and Las Animas to ensure that quality instructional materials are being used, and the facilities are in good condition.

Parent complaints from schools other than Eliot, Glen View and Las Animas will go to the GUSD board for quarterly review. Board members do not currently get regular reports of complaints

The updates will be a good way to understand from a parent’s perspective how schools are measuring up, said board member David Mcae.

“It will be interesting to monitor parent complaint for our purposes in all of our schools,” he said.

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