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Civil rights lawyers scrutinize school district

Original post made on Jul 17, 2013

In a bid to start a conversation on addressing poor academic performance among students from the Ravenswood City School District who attend high schools in the Sequoia Union High School District, a group of Bay Area civil rights lawyers has issued a report that attempts to put the Sequoia district on notice that its interactions with Ravenswood are under scrutiny.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 11:30 AM

Comments (22)

Posted by concerned, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 17, 2013 at 12:28 pm

The real issue is that new school capacity is needed to replace the old Ravenswood High School property that was unfortunately sold off many years ago. Palo Alto followed a much wiser course and held onto their school properties during periods of declining enrollment, so they have plenty of options now that enrollment is going up again. The loss of Ravenswood High School property hurts the kids in East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park because they don't have a high school in their community. This hurts the rest of the community as well because the remaining schools are already overcrowded, and there is a lot more enrollment coming that is already in the elementary school pipeline. Great high schools, of appropriate sizes, are SO important to the future of our community. The current board and supt had nothing to do with this decision, and they are trying to make the best out of difficult circumstances, but they cannot fix this problem on their own. We need a consortium of all the governing agencies and business as well to come together to find a way to secure a new school site. Just adding more capacity to the existing schools will simply create mega schools that are unwieldy to manage and impersonal for kids. Our community can and should do much better for the kids.

Posted by G, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 17, 2013 at 1:09 pm

I read recently that the Ravenswood Elementary District selling off school property. Shouldn't our high school district have the first rights to this?

Posted by Local parent, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 17, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Las Lomitas school district may be impacted by a change in high school boundaries. Parents are naturally concerned that splitting up an exhisting cohort of middle school students between Woodside and MA will be disruptive socially. But hearing that EPA kids have had their cohorts split between 3 high schools for decades, I don't feel we should complain.

I strongly agree with "Concerned" that building up is not a good solution. The high schools are overwhelmingly big and there's a lot of data showing that kids perform better when in small school populations.

There seems to be a lot of new development in the port/Bair Island area of Redwood City. Isn't the Salt Works project set to add hundreds of housing units? Logistically and geographically, that looks like an opportunity for a new high school site that the district shouldn't overlook.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Jul 17, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Solution for Belle Haven: Make the schools in Belle Haven part of THE REST of the Menlo community. For Pete's sake, it's not rocket surgery. Or are you all too snotty to do it? It's the right thing.

Posted by concerned, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 17, 2013 at 9:17 pm

If you want to start changing elementary school district boundaries to correspond with city boundaries, there are lots of issues to resolve. The other elementary school districts don't correspond with the city boundaries either. Atherton is split between three elementary school districts: Redwood City, Menlo Park and Las Lomitas. Woodside is split into three districts: Woodside, Portola Valley and Las Lomitas. Menlo Park is split into three school districts: Las Lomitas, Menlo Park and Ravenswood.

Posted by peninsula resident, a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Jul 17, 2013 at 11:16 pm

> Solution for Belle Haven: Make the schools in Belle Haven part of THE REST of the Menlo community.

Did you read the article? If you had, you would have read this:

"students from the Belle Haven neighborhood are assigned to nearby Menlo-Atherton High"

Transferring Bell Haven schools to MPCSD would not change what HS they go to; they ALREADY go to MA.

Posted by peninsula resident, a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Jul 17, 2013 at 11:24 pm

> an open-enrollment preference for Ravenswood students that would put them at the head of the line in transferring to Menlo-Atherton High. Such an enrollment privilege for admission to M-A has long been in place for households in the Las Lomitas Elementary School District

How many students would have enrollment privilege, potentially?

Posted by ndnorth, a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2013 at 6:09 am


you are not well informed. Palo Alto sold many schools and school sites in the eighties. That's why they now have a problem with overcrowding.
When I asked a board of Ed member in 1986 what would happen when enrollement increased her response was: let the then Board of Ed deal with it.

Posted by concerned, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 18, 2013 at 10:50 am


Palo Alto may have sold some properties, but they have MANY more options to address growing enrollment than we currently do here in Southern San Mateo County. Palo Alto has the Cubberly High School property that they can reopen if enrollment increases warrant. A few years ago, they reopened the Terman Middle School property. They've also reopened some shuttered elementary campuses.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Duh, Peninsula Resident, I know where BH students go when it's time for high school. I was referring to earlier grades, making them actually part of the larger community. I'm sorry that you didn't understand that.

Posted by Norman, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 19, 2013 at 10:29 pm

There are a few references in the above 'comments' which state that smaller high schools are preferable to big ones. I think that Bill Gates had this same philosphy and he funded it only to find out it wasn't true. No need to reinvent the wheel, expensively, so building 'up' should be done.

Posted by Read the legal report, a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 22, 2013 at 12:51 pm

After reading the Lawyers' Committee report, I'm horrified that the district didn't change the assignments many years ago. What took them so long to document the blatent discrimination? : Web Link

For 30 years the district has left these kids to fend for themselves.
The only legal and logical solution is the EMP and EPA kids to be assigned to M-A, and for Portola and Los Lomitas to be assigned to Woodisde and apply for interdistrict transfer AFTER others that live closer are in, if there is space.

Then the west peninsula families can use their considerable resources towards improving Woodside HS. In 5-8 years, it will score on par with M-A today.

Posted by Start HS at 9am, a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 22, 2013 at 1:01 pm

And why does Woodside and Carlemont still start classes at 8, despite all the research and changes at other HS's?

Who is behind the curve, and why aren't the parents fighting for reasonable change? Why not start at 8:45 or so, like other schools?

The business world generally starts at 9am, and some industries start earlier, but we expect our kids to start an hour before us? And then they get out way before parents are off-work, leaving extra un-supervised time, unless they are in sports or extracurriculars, which you can't do if you are being bussed 1-2 hours each day.

The people in charge are not looking out for the best interests of kids today. It shouldn't take a lawsuit to get our leaders to do the right thing. (just don't use congress as an example)

Posted by Dave Boyce, Almanac staff writer
on Jul 22, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Dave Boyce is a registered user.

Woodside High does have a later start. I believe it's around 9 a.m. Woodside was the first of the four comprehensive high schools in the Sequoia district to shift to a later start, basing its decision on sleep research and the need for teens to have more than eight hours.

The early start alleged at Woodside in the Lawyer's Committee report is an error.

M-A used to start at 8 but now starts around 8:45.

Posted by peninsula resident, a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Jul 22, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Hmmm wrote:
> I was referring to earlier grades, making them actually part of the larger community. I'm sorry

Your apology is unnecessary, but accepted.

To your (now somewhat more clarified) point: as "concerned" mentioned, there is frequently little correlation between school district boundaries and city boundaries.

Just curious, why are you advocating removing Belle Haven from the Ravenswood School district? I could speculate on your reasons, but it seems more appropriate you speak for yourself.

Posted by Menlo Park parent, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 23, 2013 at 1:03 am

I don't know why riding a bus for 5 or 11 miles is a big deal. I rode a bus to school for K-12. I wasn't damaged as a result.

Look at the private school kids. How far do Menlo School students drive each day? Is it an outrage that they drive 11 miles to get to school? Do they have no time for athletics or clubs after school because of the 11 mile drive?

It doesn't matter what school the EPA students attend. The harsh truth is that parents matter more than schools.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Jul 24, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Peninsula- I've said many times here on this publication that Belle Haven schools should be part of Menlo, not EPA. Why not? Peter Carpenter has said similar things. These kids need to be enfranchised, not further disenfranchised, finishing off what the building on 101 did years ago. It's shameful.

Posted by Check your facts, a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 25, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Dave Boyce:

8am start at Woodside HS according to their website. See the link:

Web Link

Posted by funny, a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 25, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Riding a bus for 11 miles in crazy silicon valley traffic takes a long time. I would guess the traffic when you were a teen was much lower.

And with traffic, your parents would have a more difficult time getting to your school events, or for you to take extra-curiculars, and then make the only bus home each evening.

The private school kids are more likely to have parents/support getting to and from school at all hours of the day.

As my spouse and I both work full-time (like 70% of america), it's already a challenge to get to many of the school events we should be at. It would be 3X as bad if the school was 11 miles and 45 minutes of traffic away.

Having a stay-at-home parent or ability to hire help is a huge luxury many would like.

Posted by Dave Boyce, Almanac staff writer
on Jul 25, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Dave Boyce is a registered user.

Here's the way Woodside High changed its bell schedule in the spring of 2009:

For about 60% of students, those who do not need remedial classes, the school day started with second period at around 9 a.m.

Students who doing remedial work in math and English had a longer day. They started at 8 a.m.

I have no reason to believe that this has changed with a new principal.

Posted by M-A parent, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jul 25, 2013 at 4:40 pm

M-A still starts at 7:50. They just call it zero period so now they can claim that first period doesn't start until after 9. Zero period at M-A is not just for remedial students. My son had to take zero period so he could fit in all his classes and still play in the band.

Two facts that continue to be overlooked in this discussion:

* There is a brand new high school sitting empty in East Palo Alto. It's a beautiful building. Maybe they don't want to open it because its enrollment would not reflect district averages? But I'll bet that families who live there would rather see their kids have shorter bus rides than attend school in a racially balanced environment.

& The real travesty is not making the kids ride buses. It's that students of color are systematically removed from the schools so that they won't depress standardized testing scores, thus creating all kind of bureaucratic trouble for the schools. It's easy: the school sends a monolingual parent a letter in English and the parent signs it, not realizing that the letter includes a clause in which the parent agrees to withdraw the child from school.

Having to get up early is the least of it. There are kids living on estates in Portola Valley who have to get up that early to make the trek across town to M-A!

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Jul 25, 2013 at 6:05 pm

M-A Parent - what is this letter about, specifically, that these parents receive?

Thank you!

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