A petition with 350 signatures from disgruntled Bullard area parents was given to Fresno Unified trustees Wednesday night.
The petition was the outcome of a meeting held Tuesday night at Bullard High, which drew about 500 people with concerns about northwest schools, including overcrowding and discipline problems at the high school.
The petition demands the district address the Bullard High concerns, as well as a lack of gifted and talented programs at Bullard and its feeder schools. The parents also want a "high standard of dress" to be established and that parents be given more voice in school decisions.
Parent Kathy Nahoul, who delivered the petition, asked trustees to schedule a discussion of the Bullard Regional Pilot at the next board meeting. "I think we could all come together and make changes in our area," she said.
Frustration among Bullard parents has been growing since 2010, when parents agreed to support Measure Q, a districtwide building bond, in exchange for the creation of a Bullard Regional Pilot. The pilot's goal was to boost academic achievement in Bullard schools. Parents have said they voted overwhelmingly to pass the bond, but the district has not completed the regional pilot.
Wednesday night, Superintendent Michael Hanson said misinformation had been disseminated to the public about Bullard High school overcrowding. He presented slides showing the capacity is 2,665 based on 98 classrooms and 32 students per class. On Friday enrollment was 2,645, he said.
The district also has spent $70 million on Bullard improvements in the past seven years, he said. "That is not turning a blind eye -- that is a dramatic investment," he said at a news conference.
But Hanson said the district needs to be more consistent with discipline at schools, although the policy on expulsions is clear for such student infractions as bringing guns on campus or possession of drugs for sale, he said.
Outside the board meeting, Bullard parents said school discipline and safety were their biggest concerns. "It's hard to drop your child off if you don't know they're going to be safe," Bullard High parent Alondra Williams said. She said her daughter was bullied and school officials failed to address it.
Another parent, Michael Clark, said his daughter is an Edison Computech middle school student and wants to attend Edison High. Based on what he learned at Tuesday's town hall meeting, Clark said, "I would not want to send a child to Bullard."
Carole Jacoby, another attendee at the town hall meeting, told trustees that as a long-time Fresno Realtor, she helps people who are relocating and they want their children to go to Clovis schools.
"That makes me feel really bad because I would like Fresno Unified to have some kind of respectable reputation," she said.
In other action: Trustees unanimously approved two grant applications to help students who have behavior problems stay in school and succeed academically.
The district has applied for a $499,856 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to expand a leadership program for middle and high school boys, and for $179,596 in grant funds from The California Endowment to train elementary and middle school staffs as in-house trainers in restorative justice.
Fresno Unified has been moving toward a restorative justice discipline policy that works to improve student behavior through mediation and building relationships between students and adults.
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