Original URL: http://www.arizonarepublic.com/northeastvalley/articles/0925palomino0925Z7.html

PV schools ignoring parents, group says

By Kirsten Sorenson
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 25, 2002

The Paradise Valley Unified School District is perpetuating a disturbing
pattern of ignoring the community when making important decisions, parents
charged at last week's school board meeting.

The United Parent Council, a parent group, brought a resolution before the
board asking that the district rededicate itself to involving parents in
decisions. One of the board's policies is to seek input from teachers,
employees, parents and citizens.

At issue at Thursday's meeting was the district's decision to limit the
dual-language program at Palomino Elementary School to students fluent in
English. Previously, students were eligible if they knew only some English.
Teachers, parents and students were informed of the change shortly before
school started in August.

"We're not just second-class citizens, we're intelligent people," parent
Perla Castro said.

Her sentiments were echoed by many of the 150 parents, students and teachers
who crowded into the meeting.

Superintendent Thomas Krebs explained the rationale behind the decision,
saying test scores on standardized exams such as AIMS and the SAT-9 have
been falling at Palomino, compared with the rest of the district.

This is all about raising student achievement," Krebs said.

For example, in 2000, the percentage of students exiting the English
Language Learner program at Palomino was 3 percent, compared with 7 percent
districtwide, he said. In 2001, the percentages were 5 percent for Palomino
and 15 percent for the district, he said.

Krebs said the district didn't receive the AIMS test scores until just a few
days before school started in August and had to make a quick decision
regarding student achievement.

Krebs said he and other district representatives would meet with Palomino
leaders and teachers to address concerns such as class sizes.

Some parents have called the change at Palomino a political move. School
board President Tom Horne, a candidate for state superintendent of public
instruction, opposes bilingual education, which is one of the issues in the
state race.

Reach the reporter at kirsten.sorenson@arizonarepublic.com or (602)