The Woodside school board voted to suspend its twice-a-week Spanish lessons for grades 1-4 following last month's resignation of Spanish teacher Maria Teresa Magana. The vote was 5-0 at the board's July 15 special meeting.
Board members said they wanted to take some time to rethink the program before reintroducing it, possibly as soon as mid-school year.
The board directed district staff to work with Woodside's Parent Teacher Organization to arrange for after-school Spanish lessons to be offered in the interim.
Spanish will still be taught to middle school students.
"We are temporarily taking a break from Spanish," said board member Ellen Ablow at the meeting.
One parent at the meeting complained about Spanish lessons being compulsory for all students when he preferred to have his children focus on English skills. Having his kids acquire a foreign language is at the bottom of his list of priorities, he told the board.
Another parent said that, while he loved the idea of Spanish classes for primary-grade students, he and other parents felt their children didn't really learn any Spanish until they reached middle school.
Susan Arbuckle, a parent and school volunteer, said that the Spanish program focuses on cultural exposure and preparing students to study the language more intensely when they are older. Parents, however, expect their children to be able to order in Spanish at a restaurant or know how to ask to go to the bathroom, she said.
"I think parents have a misconception of what kids are expected to learn," she said. "We've done a poor job of explaining (the program) to parents."
At the meeting, the board rejected a proposal put forward by Dan Vinson to only eliminate Spanish for grades 1-2. Then-superintendent Vinson put together the recommendation before his retirement in mid-June.
"Eliminating (Spanish) in grades 1-2, and having it in grades 3-4 seems arbitrary and very difficult to defend to the community," said board President Bettina Pike, who was out of town and attended the meeting via phone.
Board members directed staff to schedule a study session on the Spanish program during the coming school year.